Get your sexy on….

Having a mouth that moves faster than your brain can have both advantages and disadvantages. Like anything in life, you have to take the crunchy with the smooth. It was at the end of an interview with HR Magazine that I uttered the words, “Before I die, I want to make HR sexy, that’s my mission in life,” A phrase that has gone on to be mocked and criticised in equal measure. That’s ok, I’m good with that… don’t wear the shirts that I wear unless you have a thick skin.

Now clearly, I didn’t mean that I wanted the profession to don suspenders and a basque or to in any way physically get a little bit jiggy with their business. Only those with the stunted intellectual prowess of a failed Parisian artist dragging their sorry carcass from an 18th century absinthe parlour in the early hours of a fog soaked night would draw that conclusion. In fact, the idea that I, or indeed anyone, would suggest anything of this sort is just down right dumb and borderline insulting.

But that isn’t the main thing that struck me from the whole sexygate nonsense. It was more the slightly embarrassed self mockery that came from the profession itself. Like suggesting the awkward bespectacled geek or, the child of the orthodentist who takes too much of his work home with him, could actually become the prom king or queen. Who us? Get away. Clearly the person saying it is mad. Right?

Because HR doesn’t want to be sexy, it wants to be serious. It doesn’t want to be desired, it wants to be respected. It doesn’t want people to feel, it wants them to think. And that is the reason, why unless we change the way in which we represent ourselves, we will never be any of these things.

People have choices about the careers that they pursue, they take views from their friends and their families, from their tutors and advisors. Most people want to do something with their lives that makes a difference, that appeals to them on both an emotional and intellectual level. They want to do something with meaning.

HR for me is the profession that sees more of an organisation than any other, it is the profession that can systemically improve performance and deliver results and profitability, it can make people’s working lives better, it can drive innovation, entrepreneurialism and creativity, it can improve customer service, shareholder return and employee satisfaction.

And, if that wasn’t enough, it can be fun, lighthearted and even irreverent at times.

A profession that does all of this, that can improve the lot of all major stakeholders and be fun? Sexy?

I mean, really……that’s just stupid. Clearly I’m mad.

DISCLAIMER: The title of this blog post is in no way intended to suggest that any reader should in any way, physically, mentally or metaphysically perform any sort of inappropriate act or make any suggestion either orally, in writing or through the medium of contemporary dance that could be deemed inappropriate by any other individual. Always seek the consent of anyone with a 5 metre vicinity, before getting your sexy on.


  1. Stephen O'Donnell · September 29, 2013

    So these shirts – do you get them on prescription for your thick skin?

    I’ve got this chip on my shoulder that’s proving impossible to remove.

    • Neil · October 13, 2013

      Water on the knee? A tap on the shin.

  2. TashHR · September 29, 2013

    I would love to make HR sexy again. Yes it needs to be serious and respected, but why can’t it be a coveted and wanted profession as well? I know some HR peeps that are the funniest and most loyal people I know. We need to put some of that realism back into organisations and show that it can be a fun and great profession. That is my goal!


    • daviddsouza180 · September 29, 2013

      +1/Like/RT – whatever the cool and sexy kids do these days

    • Neil · October 13, 2013

      We can be fun and professional. Why now?

  3. daviddsouza180 · September 29, 2013

    HR is on the verge of data with real insight = sexy and smart
    HR can do things even without that data = sexy and confident
    HR can make a real difference = sexy and purposeful
    HR can make a genuine commercial difference = sexy and financially attractive
    HR can make lives better and work fun = sexy (with a GSOH)

    HR can write procedures that stifle people = clumsy
    HR can make decisions that dehumanise people = flaccid
    HR can sometimes forget we are there to help = sorry, we forgot to wash
    HR can spend time wishing it was sexy, but not saying it out loud out of fear = I forgot to ask for a second date

    • Neil · October 13, 2013

      I have my own teeth too…..

  4. FrankZupan · September 30, 2013

    Sexy, smart, data-driven, tall, leggy, handsome, good hair…all wonderful and all very aspirational. I hope it doesn’t come at the expense of a collective, social sense of humor or a willingness to laugh at ourselves 🙂 See you soon???

    • Neil · October 13, 2013

      We have to be able to laugh at ourselves and not take it too damned seriously.

      Congratulations on tying the knot!

  5. hrmannz · September 30, 2013

    At the end of 2012 I wrote a blog post lamenting our image and said “so I’m saying 2013 is the year when we need to take HR out of the shadows and into the mainstream, make it sexy and interesting, reinvent ourselves and find a voice.” You are spot on Neil, we’re as sexy as hell underneath those sensible clothes. And we don’t give it away on the first date. Who could resist that if only they knew?

    • Neil · October 13, 2013

      Second date at least….and no hand holding…..

  6. LR · September 30, 2013

    One thought: I believe that people (or institutions) who try to be sexy are the ones who fail.

    I speak from personal experience.

    • Neil · October 13, 2013

      I didn’t know inanimate objects could “try”……and I don’t mean you….

  7. Henry · October 1, 2013

    You are already sexy.

    • Neil · October 13, 2013

      Thank you darling.

  8. Peter Gold · October 3, 2013

    Morrison; you’ve have dropped to levels I never thought possible even from you ;-p

    • Neil · October 13, 2013

      I like to dash expectations. Ask my parents.

  9. Pingback: Business Sexy | 101 Half Connected Things
  10. Pingback: Think HR, think sexy... » The HR Director Blog

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