Is diversity destined for a bigger role without HR?

Is diversity coming of age? After focusing for so long on ‘proving the business case for diversity’, the debate has now moved on with proposals to create a new association for diversity specialists. Its purpose is to create and promote common standards among diversity professionals, and drive out ‘rogue consultants’.

When diversity initiatives first appeared in organisations, they were usually handled off the side of an HR manager’s desk. Even now, many heads of diversity still report into HR. So what is most noteworthy about this move is the suggestion that diversity should move out of HR and become a function in its own right.

Granted, diversity touches every area of a business – its products, services and brand, as well as the age, race, colour and gender of its employees – but diversity has historically ‘fitted’ within HR departments because HR, too, touches every area of the business.

Supporters of this new diversity association imply that by moving diversity away from being an HR-led project, line managers will take more responsibility for it, and it will gain more credibility internally and externally. Do you agree? E-mail personneltoday@rbi.co.uk with your comments. In the meantime, I wonder what will come first: organisations with a truly diverse board, or a chief diversity officer on the board?

Honouring the HR heroes

A month on from the floods crisis, and stories of HR heroism are beginning to trickle out. In organisations as diverse as Severn Trent Water, Vodafone and Gloucestershire County Council, we hear how HR leaders valiantly kept their heads above water while their businesses were submerged.

Business continuity plans were in place, but HR helped put them into practice. Gloucestershire’s Sue Scrivens says it was “sheer bloody-mindedness” that helped get services up and running again.

We applaud the initiative and leadership shown by HR professionals when their people skills were well and truly tested.

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