This week’s letters

Why is HR constantly left holding the baby?

It is interesting to note that HR directors are being asked by the CBI to
play a major role in changing the public perception of UK business when it
appears that the leaders of these businesses believe HR professionals lack the
commercial acumen to make strategic decisions or sit on the board.

Marc Hommel’s article ‘Stepping up to the mark’ (Strategy, 10 June) was
littered with patronising terms which owed more to a lesson in classroom
behaviour than serious business issues. It typifies the narrow minded,
finance-centric approach often used when referring to HR practice and was
ironically summed up by the adapted ‘baby on board’ sign.

Perhaps it would be more helpful to try to explore new approaches to
business thinking which enables HR to bring a fresh perspective to strategy
development on the board rather than hammer home the same tired old messages.

Karen Roberts
HR & training manager, Molecular Products

Old-fashioned views deter best candidate

The views of John Spartan (letters, 17 June) frankly beggars belief. I am
stunned that someone who is a ‘head of HR’ is naive enough to think this way.

Let’s take his question: "Are women not able to promote themselves in
the workplace by their education, skills, aptitudes, experience and
merits?" Well, clearly not if one looks at the statistics. The fact that
there are so few women (or ethnic minorities for that matter) in the top ranks
of just about any organisation you care to name, is surely a testimony to the
existence of gender (and race) bias.

Does he not agree with the concept that to compete equally, those from a
position of disadvantage need extra encouragement and help?

I don’t know what kind of outfit JBMS is, but if its head of HR limits the
available pool of talent he recruits from with this kind of institutionalised
discrimination, then any advantages which come from a diverse workforce will
surely be lost and the best person for the job may be continually passed over
in favour of a white male. Also what message about JBMS’s values do these views
send to its customers?

Ian Henly FCIPD
Service centre manager, Crown Prosecution Service

Has he never read equality research?

I am somewhat surprised to find someone supposedly head of HR in a large
organisation not only suggesting the maternity regulations cause problems for
employers but also that women do not need equality legislation these days. Does
John Spartan (letters, 17 June) also believe we do not need disability and race
relations legislation or is he just anti-women?

It appears he does not believe there is such a thing as the ‘glass ceiling’
or ‘old boys’ network’ which gives all advantages to men while preventing women
from entering, surviving and flourishing in the workplace.

Does he not read the research on this subject that shows the manager is
normally a man even in areas where there are a lot of women employed? Even with
the Equal Pay Act, women are still paid less than men in like positions.

If dealt with in the correct way, women returning to work after maternity
leave are soon back up to speed, especially where the organisation has a robust
maternity leave policy that enables women to be kept up to date with changes in
the workplace.

I admit managing maternity leave and getting the right calibre of maternity
leave cover can sometimes be difficult, but the benefits far outweigh the
problems, especially when most industries now have difficulty with recruitment
and retention.

The equality legislation is not about advantaging one gender over another or
even one section of the population over another, it is about trying to provide
a level playing field; it is about educating employers to realise that everyone
has something to offer and that the ‘white, male, middle class’ worker is not
always the best person for the job.

Sorry, John, but I think you sound a little bitter in your letter and have
not really looked at the situation with an impartial eye.

Denise Carter
Senior HR adviser, Company name withheld

HR must polish up its internal image first

I was interested to read Scott Beagrie’s feature on what HR needs to do to
boost its image, ‘What are HR directors worth?’ (Personnel Today,17 June).
Progress on this issue must surely involve improvements in how employees regard
the HR function and the role it plays in the organisation’s development.

Employees are not only HR’s business, they also shape external views through
their advocacy (or otherwise) for their employer.

HR must build from the ‘inside out’ if it is to enhance its reputation (and
so the reward) for the service which it delivers.

Nick Wright
Director,  Fishburn Hedges

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