It seems when reading press stories about certain high-profile companies, Uber, Tesla, Amazon etc. a lot of the coverage revolves around their employment practices (or abuse of).
They have all appeared in the news for conduct that conflicts with their shiny PR front – be it discrimination, (sex and race) or in Amazon’s case their infamous staff turnover.
However, when you read these stories the fact that they reach the media is an indication that their collective HR functions are failing. Moreover, the stories frequently highlight the failure of HR departments to handle complaints correctly. Some HR departments appear to have become part of the weapons used by poor employers – they have become part of the problem. They facilitate breaches of employment law and then hide the misdeeds of the employer. Imagine being the HR department at The Weinstein Company.
HR departments answer to the same bosses as other employees; however, there does appear to be a definite trend to facilitate malpractice. HR is never independent, but it seems to have lost some backbone. Instead of speaking truth to power weak HR departments are colluding in breaches, some of which are both serious and criminal.
HR departments should advise and direct management to take the right course – this is frequently not the easiest path – however, it is now more necessary than before. HR needs to reassert its importance as an independent function within organisations. This also means better recruitment of and training for HR professionals. HR should not be seen as a path from administrative or minor management roles.
Directors of HR should be board-level appointments – appointments that report to the board and no one else.
Due to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) those in charge of data protection and security are now being given board-level status. HR is long overdue for the promotion.