This week’s letters

Thought-provoking line manager piece

I thought the cover story on your 13 May issue (on your exclusive research
among HR professionals on what they thought of the line managers within their
organisation) was just terrific.

Quentin Reade’s article was well researched and put together, and I enjoyed
reading it.

I strongly suspect that such research in the US would turn up very similar

A powerful and thought-provoking read – congratulations!

Lance Jensen Richards
Managing director, Suddenly Global LLC, USA

Concessions really there for the parents

I couldn’t agree more with your article, ‘Pregnant Pause is Managerial
Curse’ (13 May).

The Government seems to be forgetting two things: first, parenthood is a
choice, made by people for their own reasons – and normally without consulting
their colleagues beforehand; second, the tax system, favouring parents so
heavily, decreases the goodwill of childless people towards their parenting

Surely the Equal Pay Act was, among other things, meant to stop people being
paid according to their family circumstances, rather than the value of their
work? It does grate, then, when a middle manager’s subordinate with three
children takes home more pay than her.

Nor am I convinced how necessary it is to allow time off work to parents for
the child’s first day at nursery, nativity play or sports day, etc. I don’t
recall my (single parent) father taking time off work for these things and I
seem to have survived. I can only conclude that these concessions are more for
the enjoyment of the parent than the needs of the child.

All things considered, it’s remarkable that relations between the childless
and parents are as good as they are.

Name and address supplied

Morals and ethics good for business

I think the ‘Blowing your own credibility’ article by Stephen Overell (Off
message, 10 June), reflects some valid issues surrounding the increasingly popular
use of ‘business ethics’.

However, it comes down on the cynical side, pulling too much on utilitarianism
and the view that individuals have the ‘WIIFM’ (What’s In It For Me) tune
playing in their head at all times. Reality lies far more in the middle ground.

We know that individuals behave far more charitably when they have an
audience. Research shows that men give more to street collections and the like
when they are in female company, as opposed to on their own or with other men.
But surely one of the objectives of any business is to become sustainable, and
part of this must include businesses reputation.

If we see a way to increase our reputation as being seen to do the right
thing, then as people, we are going to do so. However, just because this is
done in public, whether through engaging with business ethics or corporate
social responsibility, does not mean that business isn’t also doing ‘the right
thing’ out of sight and the limelight.

Doing good business (or ethical business) means running a successful and
profitable one. All businesses and organisations have to reflect the needs and
wants of consumers. Today, consumers want transparency, and for businesses to
show that they are run honestly and with integrity. This means businesses will
have to deliver their wares with honesty and integrity to reach the greatest
numbers. In my opinion, this cannot be a bad thing. Whether the main driver is
the bottom line or morals, becomes academic.

To me, the objective of promoting business ethics is so that we can improve
the society we live in.

George Gallant
Good Business Network

Majority are against congestion charging

I read your article entitled ‘Employees call for congestion charging across
UK’ (News, 13 May). However, the figures could have been presented in another
way: "More than two-thirds of workers think congestion charging would not
improve their journey to work…"

How would you fancy paying a tenner a day (it won’t be £5 for much longer)
for entering a city? The charge is having little effect on traffic now that
people are getting used to it.

Road users have paid many times over for a decent transport system. It’s not
an issue of having to pay more and more to use less and less road. It is an
issue of governmental spin, and how funds are actually spent.

Jane Samuel
Independent IT systems consultant

Childless workers are not victimised

I think Ruth Gilmour, HR manager of Kingstown Furniture, should consider the
bigger picture with regard to accommodating colleagues with dependants, be they
kids or sick or elderly relatives (Letters, 27 May).

Yes, of course children are the responsibility of the parents and yes, it
does put pressure on colleagues when an individual has to put their family
above their work. However, we are all part of society’s system, and there will
be times when we have to ‘take’ more than we can ‘give’. But to condemn those
who are at such a stage in their lives is short -sighted.

If we apply this victim mentality of the childless ‘carrying’ the world’s
parents to pensions, Ms Gilmour would presumably object to staff paying into
pension schemes which are given to those of pensionable age. Would she suggest
that we stop the practice of one part of society helping another in this way?

Balancing work and family life is difficult, but that is only one piece of
the big puzzle. If Ms Gilmour has found a miracle solution for all domestic
crises that she’d like to share with the rest of us, then that would be

I find this whole debate over whether it’s harder being a parent or not very
tiring. Life is many things but, unless you are completely detached from
reality, it is never a bed of roses all of the way. Just stop moaning please.

Nancy Wright
Title and company name withheld

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