To what extent should HR be the moral conscience of an organisation? Along with finance, the HR function already carries considerable responsibilities to comply with the law, though the penalties for non-compliance in employment law are generally much less severe than for financial transgression. Employment Tribunals are as pussy cats compared with the Serious Fraud Office…
But ethical HR is about a lot more than mere compliance. Whilst the legalities of employing people were – rightly – set up to protect them from all sorts of evils, such as exploitation and discrimination, HR can play a greater role in actively promoting a workplace which runs on ethical lines, ethics which must come from the values and culture of the organisation. One of my best clients has committed much of its corporate values to print, which each new member of staff is given when he/she starts work. The main message in it all is ‘Be nice!’ – to customers, to suppliers and to colleagues, so that any encounter with the exceedingly nice pubs they run in Bath (told you I had great clients!) is a pleasure. The HR policies I have helped them to write have that message underpinning them. Whilst being nice doesn’t mean necessarily being ethical, there is some link with respect, tolerance and self-control. These qualities feed very much into ethical HR – of which more next month!
If you would like to discuss any HR issues then you can contact Charlotte here