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Did your HR Director really just say that….??

Recently, in the MBA class I teach at Aurora University, my students’ assignment was to discuss a current Human Resources happening whether at their work or something in the news, etc.  They were to discuss the issue and why it was of interest to them. As a result, one of my students did his assignment on the Human Resources Department at his current employer being the problem and looking to the class for resolution.

Unfortunately, when companies hire an employee into an HR role without HR knowledge it has potential to hurt the company in many ways.  This is more common than you would think. Many people who get hired in an HR role typically are thrown into it because there is no one else to do it. For example, the following is a typical outcome:

The student, as the interviewee, told us a few comments that the Human Resources Director discussed with him during his interview.say that

Apparently, the Human Resources Director was trying to “break the ice” during the interview and the conversation headed down the personal path of the candidate, my student. He was honest and told her about wanting to purchase a home nearby. Her comment to him was, “We just had a vacant home across the street from us get purchased and I am so glad a white family bought the house so they can put some work into it to make it look nice rather than a black or Mexican family.”

Did your eyebrows rise along with the hair on the back of your neck like mine and those of my entire class did? I hope so!

When he told us this in class, you could hear everyone in the room take a huge gulp! He continued to tell us more of her comments over the two years he has been working with her. The comments are getting worse; they are more sexual and perverted. For example, she stated to another employee regarding golf – that if you don’t hit it past the women’s tee you have to play the rest of the game with your d–k out.  HUH?? If that wasn’t enough, the HR Director is also involved in workplace gossip.

When your HR person is behaving in this manner, it sets a precedent that this is acceptable. If this type of behavior is acceptable from HR, then how does a company discipline others for acting the same way?

There are so many reasons why this is unacceptable behavior. First and foremost, HR is expected to maintain professionalism. HR’s job is to assure prevention, not provoke it.

So what does my student do? To whom does he go?  During class several options were presented, but here are some more facts:

  • the HR Director has been with the company over 20 years,
  • we don’t know the relationship between the HR Director and the owner, and
  • the student has only been working there for 2 years.

Therefore, retaliation is a concern. Even though retaliation is against the law, it still happens. We suggested a few options and how to approach the situation without having to fear repercussion. We will find out what happens in the next couple of weeks.

For now, I ask you this… Why is it that

  • CPA’s need to receive formal training to sign your taxes,
  • doctors’ need to complete residency,
  • lawyers have to pass the BAR and now
  • Project managers have a Project Management degree. But,
  • Human Resources, have no requirements.

As an HR professional, it is our obligation to educate employers and other employees about the value of HR’s ACTUAL role,

  • Compliance,
  • Strategy,
  • Good, appropriate and proper management,
  • Good communication, and
  • Most importantly, respect for other employees.

The HR profession has and is continuing to change. There are more regulations and compliance issues of which to be aware to be able to manage and educate the workplace. The HR profession should require formal training like CPAs, Doctors, and Lawyers.

How do companies allow an employee in an HR role without training? Because, whether you are trying to “break the ice” or not, Human Resources professionals need to be just that… Professional and trained.