This week’s letters

Exposing sexism is just one step on the road to equality

I am very grateful to Personnel Today for exposing the Sunday Times’ ad with
the title, ‘What turns businessmen on? Domination’ (News, 6 April).

However, your own headline: ‘Sexist Sunday Times angers female readers’,
obscures the fact that many men also found this advert offensive, and
registered complaints with the Advertising Standards Authority.

Some might argue that the boast of being the ‘most read publication among
businessmen’ is simply a representation of the ‘facts’. Perhaps – but
representations can be self-perpetuating.

The danger is, the more we depict the business world as being male-dominated
and white, the more this is unlikely to change (there is still only one female
chair on the FTSE 100 after 30 years of the Sex Discrimination Act, as well as
a 25 per cent pay gap).

In addition to rendering business women virtually invisible from the
business world, this advert’s use of aggressive language in conjunction with
sexual innuendo is a very disturbing development.

In a world where sexual harassment and bullying are sadly all too
commonplace, this is not only irresponsible, but profoundly sinister in its

Tess Finch-Lees
Independent Global Diversity Specialist

Meaningful feedback is the key to success

I read with great interest your recent article on ‘Failing to manage
performance’ (News analysis, 2 March).

Poor business planning is one of the reasons that performance management
systems fail. Many companies ‘forget’ to link business objectives to their
performance objectives and what people do on a daily basis. This is crazy –
individual and organisational outputs are directly linked. Even when business
planning takes place, HR representatives are often excluded from such
discussion. This makes no sense as a company’s employee base represents (on
average) 70 per cent of its intangible assets, and therefore a significant
proportion of its value.

Employee motivation remains a top priority for companies, yet overriding
evidence suggests that performance management systems are actually having the
opposite effect. This is because the systems in place are far too complex. HR
jargon is used instead of concise language. Individuals need a clear
performance management system that outlines achievable goals, and will
therefore be motivating.

Technology is not the answer. Managers need to be properly trained in giving
meaningful feedback and setting and monitoring realistic and relevant
performance objectives if employee motivation is to be sustained.

Ilana Album
Senior consultant, Credos

Better rewards are not enough for staff

I was concerned to read the article ‘Management is key as pay gap keeps
growing’ in your 6 April issue.

It makes me wonder whether the Government and HR really is at the bidding of
the ‘fat cats’. It is insulting to those in lower-paid jobs that as the pay gap
widens, companies think they can console them with a more sophisticated
approach to ‘rewards’, such as work-life balance and better working conditions.

It is an admirable gesture, but these ‘rewards’ do not pay the bills. Much
of the stress exhibited in the workplace results from financial or emotional

Fiona Digby-Ovens
Administrator, Management Development

Women need to be better represented

I fully support Jane Goodwin’s letter (23 March). Initially, I thought I was
being over-sensitive to the gender issue when I tutted with indignation at the
male-dominated articles presented to the largely female HR community.

This current issue follows the narrowly aligned race and gender norms of
previous Personnel Today issues. None of the articles focus on workplace
achievements or innovations steered by women.

I would like you to reflect upon whether or not Personnel Today has achieved
an accurate and fair representation of the contribution of women in HR.

Caroline Millar
Details supplied

Employment law is getting in the way

Caterers fed up with new employment regulations are not alone. The Small
Business Council’s research published last week illustrates what a blunt
instrument employment legislation has become.

The study, carried out by Opinion Leader Research, showed many businesses
are striving to improve employment practices, but few attribute their success
to legislation. In fact, few believed new regulations were a positive force,
and many felt changes in legislation were having a negative impact on employee

The bottom line is that small businesses have a low awareness of employment
regulations, and see complying with them as a low priority.

I firmly believe there are a host of more effective measures than
legislation to encourage good employment practices. As William Sargent,
chairman of the Small Business Council, explained at the launch of the
research: "Policy makers need to consider alternatives to regulation,
because regulation does not always work."

Sarah Anderson
Chair, Regulatory Interest Group of the Small Business Council

PT website needs to get down to business

I really enjoyed your fun quizzes on the website. I scored full points on
employment law and top marks for suitability for homeworking. Any chance of
more similar quizzes, perhaps on a more serious note?

Jane Morgan
Details supplied

Please check out www.personneltoday.com in the ‘Test Yourself’ series.
This time we tackle ethics.

Is experience really that more important?

One of your flexible learning advertisers repeatedly feeds us the headline
‘Experience is Everything.’

If that really is the case, why is the advert trying to sell me a CIPD

Mumtaz Habibi
Details supplied

Time for CIPD to give cheaper alternatives

I currently work as personnel officer for Europe’s largest pelagic
processor, and I have been trying to find a suitable distance learning route to
gain the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) qualification.

I have more than six years’ experience in the role, along with other
training courses, and have dealt with all areas of personnel and HR.

Unfortunately, the CIPD enforces a necessity to attend workshops on the
mainland UK, and are not prepared to listen to individual circumstances.

If I followed a distance learning route, which can be expensive anyway, then
the cost of the course would rise by around £1,200 for each visit to a weekend

I think that the CIPD and training providers should start to recognise
individual circumstances, and try to sound a little interested when considering
alternatives such as local testing centres. Can anyone help?

Chris Manson
Personnel officer, Shetland Catch Ltd

Civil service job cuts are not the solution

Having worked alongside civil servants, I do not believe that simply cutting
the number of jobs will improve efficiency (News Analysis, 30 March).

I believe the management styles are inefficient, and that there is a high
proportion of lethargy among long-term employees who are happy to sit and
produce the minimum required.

This is not measured or monitored by senior managers and creates a negative
image for the rest of the civil servants.

Details supplied

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