University HR team fights to shed macho culture image

Cambridge University’s personnel director claims that its
new HR team can tackle the institution’s macho culture.

Last week a staff report, called Equalities in the
University ñ Setting a New Agenda, was published which criticises the
university’s working culture.

Peter Deer, personnel director at Cambridge University,
said, "The results are no surprise, the university has only had an HR team
and policies for 12 months.

"I joined in November 1999 and it was the first time
there was a universal personnel department. Previously, individual colleges
looked after their staff."

The survey of the university’s 7,000 staff, carried out by
consultancy Schneider-Ross, found that nearly 75 per cent of ethnic minority
staff and 66 per cent of female employees had felt undervalued during some
period of their employment. The figure rises to 81 per cent among disabled

Deer said, "This is an inclusive institution with a
culture that goes back over 100 years. It is going to take time for my HR
revolution to take shape."

Twenty-three per cent of staff said that bullying by
managers has hindered their chances of promotion.

Deer said, "Academics are not good at management and do
not see it as part of their job function. We need to change the culture.

"I am recruiting a dozen more HR staff, taking my team
to over 50, to help implement a five-year plan. First, we must improve
inter-college communication and management skills.

"We will publish a progress report in 2003, and I
expect to see a massive improvement."

By Paul Nelson


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