Letters

This
week’s letters

Drive for police diversity will aggravate
current problems

The
National Black Police Association’s call for quotas for ethnic recruits is not
only misguided, but will create more problems than it  resolves
(HR Hartley, 14 September).

While
the aim to have a police force whose make-up reflects the community it serves
is desirable, the means by which it is achieved is critical.

Research
shows that affirmative action schemes, designed to assist certain groups, help
neither the organisations in achieving their quotas, nor the recruited
individuals, who are often deemed less competent as a result of the selection
process.

If
the police are attracting enough applicants from ethnic minorities who are not
being selected, the selection processes need to be examined. Is it fair, valid
and reliable?  Are interviewers properly
trained? Why are potential ethnic minority candidates not applying?

Addressing
these problems is a major challenge as a cultural change needs to take place,
which requires perseverance.

Groucho Marx once said that the
secret of life was honesty and fair play. 
Fake that, and you’ve
got it made.

Implementing
quotas to change the numbers is the ‘faking’ of diversity. In this case, it
won’t help.

Binna Kandola

Occupational psychologist, Pearn Kandola

Lorry drivers’ safety is being overlooked

With
an increasing number of attacks on HGV lorry drivers across the UK
and Europe, driving for a living
is now more about being a security guard than truck driver.  

Demonstrating
a lack of awareness of the all-encompassing role of the UK
lorry driver, many personnel managers are failing to provide sufficient safety
measures, leaving drivers exposed to the danger of attacks.

We
hear about the issues associated with company car drivers and also about the
security of the vehicle loads, but little is done to protect the actual drivers
of commercial vehicles.

Personnel
managers need to be more aware of the legal requirement to address commercial
vehicle driver safety in the workplace – after all, a driver’s cab is their
‘office’. They must comply with the provisions of Section 2 of the Health &

Safety
at Work Act, 1974 to provide a safe and secure environment within which
employees can work.

Indeed,
if a cab is broken into, a vehicle can be disabled for two weeks resulting in
goods and subsequently customer relationships potentially wasted.  Attacks on drivers are therefore a threat to
the bottom line as well as the drivers.

A
duty of care is owed to them. I urge personnel managers to take reasonable
safety and security measures to ensure the safety of HGV drivers, and not just
the loads they carry.

Debbie Jones

Protekdor

Holiday leave has its ups and downs too

Personnel Today has written extensively
about managing absence. But to my knowledge, it has not tackled the ups and
downs of holidays.

I
can almost hear HR’s
collective sigh of relief now that the majority of workers are back from their
annual summer break. Currently, some employers will be counting the number of
post-holiday resignations. No doubt some young employees will have decided they
would rather be Club 18-30 reps than face that steady clerical job you recruited
them for a few months back, while a few older ones will have realised they’d
prefer to backpack around the world than chase the quarterly sales figures for
the next 10 years.

If
this sounds familiar, and you are fast reaching the assumption that holidays
are bad for business, think again.

They
do have their positive side. They allow management development to happen in
practice. When those line managers who refuse to delegate are away on leave,
there is a great opportunity for the organisation to give staff the chance to
take charge. Skills in decision-making and general management are honed.

In
turn, motivation and morale is raised. Staff tested and put in charge, if only 
temporarily
, feel valued, and that their employers
recognise they have promotion potential.

How
organisations cope with the holidays of their senior managers is a good
indicator of their cultures. If they are hierarchical with closed communication
systems and little in place for management development and personal career
planning, holidays by the people at the top are going to be disruptive. Why is
it, for example, that so few entrepreneurs feel they can get away from their
businesses?

Discourage
your managers from calling the office from the beach. They should let their
colleagues get on with it.

Richard Scase

Author, Living in the Corporate Zoo

Vision alone is not enough for change

Stephen
Offord’s view that
effective change hinges on the vision provided by a leader appears to be
harking back to the ‘great man’ views of leadership (News, 7 September).

Vision
in itself will never deliver effective change. People must positively engage
with change, and this simply cannot be achieved single-handedly.

Offord pessimistically contends
that 95 per cent of people hate change. But recent research conducted by OPP,
called Changing Times, shows the
majority (72 per cent of our sample) had had positive experiences of change.
Most are perfectly capable of distinguishing between
genuinely engaging change programmes, and thinly-veiled propaganda exercises.

Companies
must understand what motivates their staff. Change must not threaten those
aspects of work that are important to them.

I
don’t believe that all organisations that ask for some help in understanding
their staff more are, as Offord
contends, at ‘death’s door’.

Bernard Cooke

Head of Change Enablement Consultancy, OPP

Risk management is a serious business

Risk
management may have climbed the corporate agenda, but UK
organisations retain a haphazard, department-based approach that is not only
wasting money, but is actually damaging business value.

The
issue is no longer simply ensuring business continuity in the event of a major
catastrophe. It is also about the creation of strategies that underpin and can
help to formulate good business practice; strategies that, for example, will
mitigate the damage of a high-profile employee dismissal case, non-compliance
to financial or other legislation, or failure to meet contractual supplier
obligations.

While
many organisations are investing significant resources in risk management, a
disparate approach to separate business continuity issues will never create the
consolidated, business continuity strategy required to fix a growing problem.

Someone
has to take central control. For the large organisation, that will increasingly
mean the creation of a new board level role: the risk director, tasked with
co-ordinating risk assessment and mitigation across the business, and gearing
business processes towards business continuity.

Without
this role, organisations will struggle to demonstrate to their trading partners
and customers that they are safe to do business with.

Graeme Howe

Event director, Business Continuity Expo 2005

Employers must pay for union rep training

In
Personnel Today’s 7 September issue
(News), you asked your readers: ‘Should employers pay some of the cost of
training union representatives?‘.

Employers
should embrace trade unions within the workplace for the sake of put-upon employees. Trade unions
fight for equality and lead to good industrial relations.

Ian McCann

Trade Union Studies, Southampton City college

Taking a stand can make a difference

I
was delighted to read that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled
against a Sunday Times advert headed: ‘What Turns Businessmen On? Domination’. Congratulations to
those who felt strongly enough to write to the ASA on this issue.

It
judged that the advert was misleading because it misrepresented the findings of
the British Business Survey (BBS). The BBS clearly differentiates between
business men and business women in its own report, but the advert represented
the report as relating to business men alone. The overall result was to
metaphorically airbrush women out of the picture.

Despite
this victory, the ruling does give cause for concern. ASA continues to regard
the term ‘businessmen’ as satisfactory for referring to both sexes. It also
failed to appreciate that an advertisement could be distasteful and offensive   not
only to women, but indeed to men, who were among those who complained.

Both
issues are now the subject of an appeal. Once again, warm thanks to all of you
(including Personnel Today) for
helping to promote responsible and inclusive practices in the press. We can
make change happen!

Tess Finch-Lees

Director, diversity, The Global
Effectiveness Group

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