Bringing HR Back: Black Mirror
It’s time to get real about where we are as a profession. We all know that the good ones never get the attention they deserve or more “airtime” than the bad ones, yet the fact remains, we can do more and better. There are some terrible HR professionals out there. They make life miserable for their employees, they do not care about their well-being, they only want to help the company and not their people.
When I ask my friends how do they view the HR Departments in their organizations, I hear, “They are okay, they are good at processing my time off requests.” Which I take to mean they are good at the administrative procedures. I also hear, “I work around them when I have a real issue.” Which I take to mean that they handle issues directly (you may think that’s a good thing, but its not – could become a legal matter). The next thing I often hear is, “I don’t like (and you can substitute “fu*k with”) them.”
I understand full well the challenges that face human resources, I probably understand them more than most because I have a better view of what’s going on in my own inner circle, my resume clients, and my colleagues who are practicing HR in corporate America. I have time to surveil the landscape and ponder best practices while others may not have that luxury. And while you were working on your own things HR has been taking a bashing in the news cycle. Before you tune off or out and label this as fake news, there is no denying the #MeToo movement.
Millions of women used the #MeToo hashtag to share their stories of sexual harassment and sexual assault on social media and the news media. Many of the perpetrators were family members, friends, co-workers, and bosses. This is happening in our workplaces, right under our noses. This is a clear example of the fractured relationship with human resources and its female employees.
Human Resources has long since had a reputation for working with the company against the employees since the very beginning of its existence. It’s rare for employees to like or trust their HR departments. I didn’t like or trust anyone in HR until I got into HR and even then I was able to identify the bad ones and outright challenge them. It’s one thing not to know better but I do – and HR does too, so now we have to do better.
With the extreme bright light on men behaving badly (Matt Lauer, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis CK, Russell Simmons, Brett Ratner, and so many others) and companies coming under fire for their roles in supporting/enabling such behaviors thus causing them to disassociate with those men, the next accomplice is HR. In order for us to bring respectability back to HR we must look in the mirror and no matter how dark it seems, we must figure out how to take reasonability for letting things get this bad and vow to make things better.
We can start by embracing the new #TimesUp movement. This is a brand-new movement backed by celebrities and corporations aimed at helping victims of abuse and harassment find the strength and resources to speak out. HR should openly back and support this movement. We should also update our harassment polices and administer sexual harassment training company-wide. Let’s not pretend it is not happening in our workplaces.
We have to re-engaged with our employees in a meaningful way and let them know we have their backs and we will not let them be taken advantage of. We have to stop allowing pay inequality (every HR person knows what everyone else makes – so yeah, we gotta stop it). When our/your beloved SHRM has published an article regarding things to look out for in 2018 and it’s spot on. Read it here
Is this easier said then done? No, it only takes a little courage. Stand up for HR and Bring it Back!