Is HR the moral compass?

Like a librarian at a swingers party, one of the biggest criticisms of HR is our propensity to say no. I too have been critical in the past of the fact that we tend to use negative language and over rely on legislation and policy to substitute for clear thinking and rational argument. But sometimes, no means no.

I believe everyone has their own moral compass. And I don’t believe that as a profession we should be the first to occupy the moral high ground (I, as many others have made some shocking management decisions in our time). But I do think we have a role to make organisations and work better. That’s one of the reasons why I do what I do.

It is easy to defer responsibility to the CEO, the leadership team, the rest of the organisation and say that you were only following orders, but ultimately we as HR professionals have a duty to challenge cultural underperformance before anyone else. That’s part of our job, it goes with the territory.

That’s why I want to draw your attention to the CIPD’s Profession for the Future programme. This isn’t just about ethics and compliance, it’s about practice. And most importantly, it is about creating better work and working lives for everyone. And I can’t think of a better reason to get out of bed in the morning.

Work made better is good for the economy, it’s good for society, it’s good for employees and employers. There’s a real need to get our collective voices heard as proponents of positive action, rather than defenders of the status quo. And whilst our professional body can take the lead, it also means that each and every one of us, as individual practitioners, needs to be held accountable to a moral code.

At the end of the day, intent is important, but only action matters. So let’s take the first collective steps.