June is the month for change
Jenny Roper, June 07, 2017
Absolutely. Its very easy to discount the significance of this shift, easily as impactful and disruptive as the growth of digital business. Firms which are still run solely for profit, on autocratic ...
Read More Jon Ingham, The Social Organization
June 07, 2017 11:58
A resurgence of populist politics highlights the need for changes in corporate governance
When Mark Allen Group asked me to take over as editor from the brilliant Katie Jacobs, my first response was (I don’t mind admitting) pure terror.
An odd reaction at being offered such a fantastic opportunity, you might think. But one that fits pretty well with my personality. I’ve always thought of myself as the perfect right-hand woman; good at getting stuff done and supporting someone else more naturally comfortable in the limelight.
My terror also came down in no small part to the prestige of HR magazine. Over my two years as deputy editor I’ve been lucky enough to be part of a brand with an impressive legacy of editorial excellence and industry-leading events and rankings – our HR Excellence Awards and HR Most Influential rankings just two obvious examples.
I’ve experienced, through the community’s incredible support for the magazine, the huge affection and respect the profession has for HR. So it’s a daunting mantle to seize.
But it’s this generosity of spirit, time, ideas-sharing and support that – after gaining a bit of perspective over my initial fears – meant I felt empowered to accept this next exciting challenge.
If I can make a success of any editorship it’s for a magazine with the most generous and inspiring community, and for a profession and range of issues I find fascinating and feel passionately about. (I’m already humbled by the support coming my way in the form of chats about future content, advice on how best to step up to a new challenge... how to tap into your team’s expertise rather than assuming you have to have all the answers as ‘leader’.)
Which brings us to this, my inaugural, June issue, and first few weeks in the hot seat. And what a few weeks it’s been. A snap election called, manifestos launched that diverge more radically than we’ve seen in a long time, and focus heavily on key HR debates around workers’ rights, pensions, Brexit, access to talent...
Which all chimes rather nicely with our cover piece this issue on what populist politics mean for HR. If ‘nicely’ is the right word.
Because the less happy flipside of issues such as insecure employment receiving more attention, is exploitation existing and reaching fever pitch in the first place. The flipside of all parties talking a good game on worker representation at board level and reforming exec pay, is that the voices of employees have for so long been ignored, the gap between executive reward and average worker salary so long unchecked.
The result, as our cover story explores, is that many have become increasingly angry and disaffected with the status quo and mainstream politics. And this, experts agree, is the momentum behind a recent resurgence in a brand of politics promising to achieve fairness for the ordinary working person, to hold corrupt establishment to account, but all too often associated with deceptively simplistic answers to complex questions, and with deepening societal and demographic divides.
Which presents organisations with an urgent challenge. Not just to ease any tensions emerging in the workplace and to steer people towards a more complex understanding of the world. But crucially, to realise the huge responsibility, indeed culpability, they have around those very issues that lead to disillusionment in the first place.
As one of my interviewees in the cover piece neatly summed up: “it’s corporate governance”. And it’s perhaps not quite corporate governance as many will traditionally know it. But a process that should, if organisations are to play responsible, sustainable roles in the societies in which they operate, be increasingly seen through the lens of good, strategic, ethical HR.
There’s no doubt politicians have a huge role to play here. And hopefully whoever emerges victorious on June 9 will make good on manifesto pledges around workers’ rights and worker voice.
But organisations also need to realise the huge role they play in influencing societal mood. And the inextricable link between their actions and how people vote, between how people vote and the operating environment they find themselves in.
Many in HR already recognise this link between a responsible, people-centred approach and long-term organisational success. And it’s this community, who are constantly questing to improve their HR practice – to surmount the not inconsiderable and numerous challenges to achieving strategic, ethically aware HR – that I feel so privileged and inspired to now serve.