If you work in HR, you’re probably aware of Lucy Adams and her performance in front of the Public Accounts Committee. You may also be aware of the article written by Louisa Peacock for the Daily Telegraph. And if you’re on Twitter, you might have seen the debacle that unfolded on the publication of the article.
So Louisa makes some slightly tenuous points. The final nail in the coffin? I don’t think we will see the demise any time soon. HR is pointless and does little for the bottom line? That hardly reflects well on all those CEOs who clearly turn a blind eye to a huge drain on their profits and their bonuses. HR Directors are becoming the new estate agents? I think we have journalists ahead of us in the queue…..just.
But that isn’t the point, she is writing to provoke a reaction and drive debate, I get that. It shouldn’t detract from the key points of the article that actually ring true. HR doesn’t have a good perception, I’ve written about that before after a piece in the Guardian. And the Lucy Adams fiasco is another high-profile blow to a profession that has only just put their collective teeth back in, ready to once again be kicked.
The thing that really gets my goat, however, is the reaction of people to the article and especially the CIPD. I could almost see the arms and legs flailing in CIPD towers as various people ran to find their smart phones and take to Twitter as Thunderbirds met Derek Faye, the shrieks of “How very dare you!” echoing out across a rainy Wimbledon Broadway.
Amongst other things there were claims of misogyny. Now that is a pretty strong call in my opinion. The article re-reported the use of the nickname “The Wicked Witch” for Adams. It also suggested that women (who form most of the profession) would be better off looking for a career elsewhere in a profession with more respect. Now, I don’t know how either of these points are misogynistic.
If you argued that women should look above the profession of nursing and set their aspirations on being doctors, you’d hardly be accused of misogyny – more likely of supporting women’s rights. And were the people who reported about “Fred the Shred” accused of misandry? It’s just a stupid, over sensitive, over earnest, knee jerk reaction. If anything, you can accuse Louisa of a hatred of HR. I don’t know what the term for that is? Sanity?
For me, that’s just a big fat smoking red herring. I’d prefer my professional body not to adopt the Baldrick defence and “deny everything”. Peacock’s article outlined many of the arguments that you can find in the previous posts on this blog and on many other blogs and in articles by other journalists. They aren’t new, they’re just placed in the context of a particularly embarrassing case that happens to be about a woman. With seventy percent of our profession being women, guess what? 70% of the bad ones are likely to be women too! Whether that includes Adams, well that I’ll just have to leave to you.
But regardless, as a profession we should showcase good performance and role models AND we should hold bad practise to account. It isn’t a weakness to admit that HR is a profession in need of improvement, it’s a strength. And when we do, when we show the critical skills of self-analysis, you know what? We make people take us a whole lot more seriously.