Views split on HR’s top-flight ability

Chief executives are placing people issues at the top of the boardroom
agenda, but some question whether HR professionals are up to the job.

This is a controversial conclusion of a report by a new steering group made
up of CEOs from the FTSE 200 Index.

Pierre Danon, chief executive of BT Retail, which has organised a series of
networking events for the group, explained that business no longer depends on
equity, assets and infrastructure – people skills are now more important.

He said, "There is a gap sometimes between HR as a function and talking
about payroll and industrial relations. HR is becoming an activity we all have
to drive and it is overtaking the function.

"Knowledge management is ess- ential in unleashing HR potential and
that is something we all have to do – especially chief execs."

HR departments should be closed unless they can develop staff skills to
contribute to capacity building, claimed Rhiannon Chapman, chair of JP Morgan
Fleming Managed Growth.

She said, "So long as well-paid British HR departments spend most of
their time dealing with relatively trivial requests they will lag behind their
US counterparts and their businesses will incur a cost that adds no

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