Throughout 2012, relentless media headlines exposed pretty much every industry for labour and working exploitation. In the last 6 months alone over 400 people (mainly young women) have tragically died in factory fires in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Clothing factories whose windows and doors were barred, fire escapes blocked, fire equipment faulty. Factories that also passed compliance audits by independent inspectors only weeks before burning to the ground.
So, why bring this to the attention of the HR? Well if not just for moral or ethical reasons, there’s also a number of commercial aspects that HR colleagues should consider.
An estimated $80 billion a year is spent auditing supply chains. In fighting corruption and fraud, discrimination and exploitation, in trying to persuade factory and farm and mine owners to pay a living wage, keep fire escapes unblocked, and generally clean up their act.
However, this figure doesn’t:
- Include the cost of switching from country to country, supplier to supplier when factories burn down or child labour is exposed
- Cover the cost of internal CSR/Ethical departments and divisions
- Include the cost of ...
Apparently recycling one tonne of obsolete mobile phones can produce as much as 400 grammes of gold, compared with just 5 grammes from a tonne of gold ore.
Source: E-waste: Challenges, solutions and benefits, International Telecommunication Union, 16 May 2012
Makes you look at your phone differently. Or the old phones gathering dust in a drawer somewhere. Or just how much gold there is in that section of your workforce you just marked, ‘obsolete’.
I've just read the always excellent Jon Ingham’s reflections on the (previously) always excellent Tom Peters’ new rules on Human Capital.
I started out wanting to read both, but Jon put me off Tom. Not because everything Tom said was wrong, but enough was old hat or missing the point (or opportunity) that I stuck with Jon. I was though struck by one thing they did agree on: the need for a focus on imagination.
This reminded me of an article I read over the Bank Holiday at the Smithsonian: How Biomimicry is Inspiring Human Innovation. The article neatly and with eye-popping examples suggests that the race is on to explore olde Mother Nature not just with a view to classify and categorise (kind of like we all seem to be doing in HR with metrics and analytics these days), but to learn from the breath-taking imagination at work here, even in such everyday wonders as butterfly wings.
Strikes me that we are in a similar position on both sides. We know – though there is still no real theory – what a firm is (an innovative commercial bet against Knightian uncertainty) and what it is for (to sustainably make/sell x/y/z). What the main constituent parts are (HR, Finance etc). What, in ...
What does diversity mean to you and your business? Or inclusivity and cohesion?
A few zzzz lines in the company report, a policy destined for tumbleweed, an unreachable recruitment target, something largely negative under the umbrella of ‘compliance’ that must be reluctantly ticked?
What would true diversity and total inclusivity look, feel, and sound like?
How would it humanize the business strategy, engage the war for talent, animate culture, alter the way management decisions are made, inform the way the business looks at and projects itself, change the way it develops products and services, the way it talks to its customers – diversifies the way it – and as importantly you - think and act?
What would the ROI of positive true diversity be over negative tick box diversity?
For most, diversity simply means having more women and ethnic minorities in the workplace and on the board. Inclusivity here is just a by product: ‘Look, we now have an Hispanic female director on the board now, which means that you can make it to the top too!’ If that Hispanic female director also happens to be pushing 95 disabled and lesbian, and if that can be somehow portrayed as ...
Drum roll...for the first time ever, the American National Standards Institute has, like a benevolent genie, granted HR’s wish for an industry wide widely accepted reporting standard: cost per hire.
Now, not just in the US, but world-wide (what happens first in the US etc) HR folk can run into the streets (or around the top table – it’s designed to be accepted by the CFO after all) with a rubber stamped standard clasped in their hands. A ‘milestone’ according to Lee Webster, SHRM’s director of HR standards. Don’t get me wrong, I welcome this. I really do. It’s not a cure for cancer, and it won’t turn Goldman’s into Goodman’s, but it’s a start. You can download the 50 page (yes, 50) pdf outlining the research and the standard here
And when you do, let me know what you think. It’s not mandatory, so if fancy algorithms still aren’t in your HR tool box (what century are you in?) you can pass. But like I say, this is a start. Up next apparently we’ll have industry standards on job descriptions, diversity, performance management, even measuring the financial value of your human capital. A workforce planning standard
is right now available for comment.
Hat tip to Ere.
It’s HR bashing time again. On the Harvard Business Review - and the always excellent, Fistfull of Talent, CEO’s and CFO’s are venting their anger on that ‘soft’ ‘valueless’ ‘non business speaking’ ‘admin function’, HR.
Of course, the HR blogosphere has been quick to kick back (here’s a good riposte on HR Bartender and another on Profitability Through Human Capital which got me commenting and thinking and then led me here.
A few years back (2009) I remember a similar storm around the theme: Is HR dead? More interestingly, it was started by HR itself (shows how low things got). You can dredge up the main articles on Steve Boese’s HR Technology site. Of course, everyone still points back even further to the still hurtful but seminal Fast Company epic, Why We Hate HR.
So let’s get things straight. Top table lite HR has spent a decade in the wilderness hardening up the so called ‘soft stuff’, getting down with social media, metrics, waging the war for talent, engineering workplace culture, and even now it’s not good enough? Good enough for who? For boards that in that time have cosied up to Wall Street and slavishly adopted short term thinking and made decisions that have ...
‘Rehumanising’ is (I’m from the UK, so no humanizzzz’s here, sorry) in. It’s hot. We have rehumanising banks (obviously); rehumanising education (to stop children turning into bankers); we have rehumanising the web and law and technology, even the unemployed or the homeless (or our perceptions of those poor burgeoning precariat ranks – so many welfare queues leading to those pesky good for nothing bankers again).
We also have of course the media/political call to somehow rehumanise the firm. To make it, I’m guessing: more open and transparent, diversely populated, ethically run and socially ended – in short, to make it as people-friendly as it has recently become – for the most part – eco-friendly (by people I mean both in how the firm relates and treats the people who work for it, buy from it, and put up with it).
Of course, this begs the question: Have all leaders and managers up till now been faced with no choice but to screw dear ole grandma out of her savings and stick a radioactive pipe into the local duck pond? Did the short-term bottom line big business-Wall St-shareholder model (still alive and well) short circuit the right choice, the moral choice, pushing ...
Jim Collins' famously colourful, if slightly simplistic, analogy that talent management is all about 'getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats' still works.
PwC (2011) have become the number one board room priority, with most boards planning to make 'major' changes to their talent strategy (83%) over the next 12 months. If only, as McKinsey themselves wryly observe, boards could get bums on seats more often (currently board air time devoted to talent is flat-lining at 10%).
But although the front lines still focus on the attraction and retention of talent, things are shifting in three new and important ways:
- 'A great bus to ride' - To ensure the bus only picks up - and keeps - the right people - increasing attention is now being paid on what your bus looks like and on what kind of a once-in-a-lifetime trip it offers
- 'Who's driving the bus' - Which in turn has shifted attention onto how talented the driver is - what kind of a seat they have as well as how much influence they (and others) have in scheduling the bus route
- 'The Magic Bus Theory' - Which has finally led to brands looking ...
2009 was the year of Edupunk. In case you missed it, on the psychology grad network,PsychFutures, in chronological order you can read all the major articles. We're talking thinkers like Tapscott and Godin, think tanks like Demos, the Sunday Times, Fast Company, Mashable, New York Times. It was a big media friendly deal.
Of course, these academic anarchists didn’t ‘kill the university’. Not yet. But their ideas – digital scholarship, non pedagogical broadcast knowledge transfer, multimodal learning, open courseware - did spawn an open and ethical and wherever possible free rethinking in how we view the role of education and how the internet, like with everything else, fundamentally challenges it.iTunes U
is just one visible corporate sign of punk ideas going mainstream.
Universities of course fought back. But the current funding crisis in Western education will only strengthen rather than lessen the appetite for exploring new free diy educational methods outside the uni system. Add to this the ongoing widespread critique about the lack of business relevance and more recent dangerous greed-is-good ethical imbalance of the £9,000 a year courses on offer, and you can see where ...
I will help you shed the Christmas pounds by putting more healthy free food on the menu
I will ban all unnecessary meetings and barriers to productivity
I will let you choose when to work from home
I will encourage you to use more not less social media
I will give you more time to think
I will let you bring your pug into work
I will tell you now if your job is unsafe
I will finally start treating you like an adult
Talking of adults, maybe in 2012 this should be a collaborative resolution?