HR has hard-nosed business role keeping firms on track

I felt I had to respond to the letter from Lucy McGee about HR professionals needing experience of the real world (Personnel Today, 10 October).

How dare she level her criticism at HR professionals, who help stop people like her from making costly and ill-judged decisions on the basis of their prejudiced views. Most HR professionals are not ‘in love’ with their profession, but are tough and resilient individuals who want to contribute to the success of a business.

We don’t have cushy jobs, we don’t deal with certainty, and we don’t deal with columns of figures that add up nicely no matter which way you re-order them. We deal with the realities of people and their complexities, foibles, prejudices, wants and wishes, as well as supporting the business in making the most of its people resources.

I can’t count the number of times in the course of my 17-year career when I have had to step in to situations where managers and staff have either been pursuing a course of action, or ignoring a course of action, which, if followed through, could have had disastrous consequences for the organisation – its reputation with customers, profitability, ability to bid successfully for future contracts, and so on. We can only do that if we understand the businesses we work in.

HR professionals have a very real view of the real world, Ms McGee, but if you think it’s a role for the subordinate administrator, then perhaps you ought to try being an HR director for a day.

Jacqueline Mitchell

HR manager (and acting HR director),

Royal Society of Chemistry

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