HR Policy (or lack of) still cripples Top Management Gender diversity!


  • Unfair treatment of employees returning from maternity leave
  • Inflexible working hours not allowing for child-minding responsibilities
  • Unequal pay and bonuses for equal work performance across genders

These age old sex discrimination issues and more are still not being dealt with by HR policies. This is crippling UK businesses in their ability to feed high achieving female employees up the management pipe-line, leading to poor gender diversity in the top management positions.

Studies show that gender diversity in top management and board positions is good for business (i.e. McKinsey 2007: Women Matter) and also, probably not so surprisingly that men and women generally have complementary management qualities (i.e. Talent Innovations 2012). This combination of information makes it crucial for companies to ensure their top management includes a good split between males and females.

However, many top UK companies are not setting a good example for our smaller and younger businesses. Many are still working with the attitude of ‘more of the same’ and continuing the traditions of the ‘male, pale and stale’ for boardrooms and top management alike. On FTSE 100 and 250 boards, only 15% and 9% of seats respectively are held by women, and 11% and 45% of these companies have all male boards! (Women on Boards Report 2012) We are a long way from an equal split of 50% males and females on boards and also still a long way behind the leaders in gender equality at board level, Norway, at over 40% females on boards!

Six in ten university graduates are female in the UK and females are faring better on grades than males. Almost 50% of the UK workforce is female (ONS report 2012) yet the talent being shown at University level is being lost on the way to top management through poor HR or lack of HR policy to tackle the age old discrimination issues.

The largest gender pay gap shown in the ONS figures is occurring after the 30’s, after which age progression to top level management for the best and brightest has usually begun. Are HR Policies attempting to ensure that females can still progress their careers when they need time out to have a baby, or flexible hours to take responsibility caring for a child? Or are companies allowing females to be side lined who ‘choose’ to have a child?

The fact that 80% of part-time workers are female and that the median hourly pay for part-time work is almost 40% lower than that for full-time work (ONS 2012 Hourly-earnings) may put forward the possible conclusion that

  • companies are still not being as flexible as they need to be for females to continue with full-time work alongside family obligations
  • females are being forced into lower paid part-time arrangements for the sake of being better family makers
  •  companies are losing out on female talents and skills!

Check out our fact sheets for more information on why gender diversity in top management is important and how HR policy can help to break down the barriers to female career progression.

Change Management: HR Policy overcoming the emotional hurdles to success?

Change Management Image - Hurdles to Success

What is the point of change management? You see a way you can improve the company services/products/profits, and you make the change, simple? Or is it?

Change can have negative emotional repercussions, on both employees and customers, no matter how well intended the changes are. This is why it is important for HR policy to be involved with change, and why change needs to be managed carefully.

For employees, they may have felt comfortable with the services or products they had the ability to provide, with the knowledge and processes they were used to following. Now they have to learn new knowledge and/or processes, requiring more effort to reach the same level of competency at their given tasks as they were capable of previously. Employees need to be able to see that the extra effort they are making for the changes is worth it for them. To share in the vision that the changes are working towards improvement in their company, boosting pride in their work and their trust in the ability of management, rather than reducing their morale and productivity.

For customers, they may be a one off shopper, or one that has been using your company for years, as a reliable source for a service or product they require: If they are uninformed about the changes being made, and why, any inevitable delays or reduced service or product quality during the transition phase would be unexpected and intolerable, causing customers to be frustrated and annoyed. Customers would only see the negative impacts on their services/products as a change towards company incompetence, and would most certainly cause customers to rethink if they would continue using your company, or if they would forward this negativity to other potential customers!

Change management involves effective planning and communication; both before and after changes are implemented, to not only reduce the negative emotional hurdles described above but to overwrite the negative thoughts with positive thoughts towards the change and the company itself. Change management assesses the impacts against the positive gains of a change and then works to (as the song goes) ‘accentuate the positives’ and ‘eliminate the negatives’.

In this case accentuating the positives means building the case for the change, why it needs to be done, what the vision for the future is, and how the change will improve the company. The important part is how you manage that change for the good of all involved.

Eliminating the negatives is probably the more obvious task. It involves ensuring that all possible required resources (people, company ‘systems’, communication services, time/timing and training/education etc.) for a smooth transition are available, making sure any change laws are abided by and ensuring everyone knows how the change will work, where and when. It is important to remember to inform not only employees what is to be expected but suppliers and customers, where the changes may affect their dealings with you. This way any expected negative effects can be minimised, and any unavoidable negative effects can have plans in place to work around problems before they occur, minimising any annoyance and frustration during the transition.

Change is an important factor in any business – make yours a positive experience. Check out our factsheet: HR Policy: Change Management Check List for more detail on making the most of your company changes and overcoming the emotional hurdles to success, or contact Amanda for HR Consulting on the subject of change management at

Creating the right First Impression with new employees?

Are you creating the right First Impression with your new employees?

new employees ready for the induction process

As the force that drives your company on a day to day basis; your employees are your biggest asset. However, each new employee is a new gamble.

Will your new employee work well within your established team? Can their individual talents be wielded to improve your business? Or will they become a liability, disruptive to production, a waste of the time and energy, or even cost you extra money?!? -Induction Counts.

The first impression you give your new employee sets the tone for their new working environment, and has a direct impact on their motivation and ultimately their productivity. An employee will work their best only when they are fully aware of what is expected of them and are suitably equipped for the tasks required of them, so the faster this is achieved the faster they can start making you more money!

Is your business organised with clearly communicated procedures and business structure and does a new employee and their colleagues know where they fit in this? Have you ensured that a new employee will have all the information and equipment required to complete tasks including any specialised equipment that may be required for the employee’s individual needs? To fulfil just these basic needs planning has to start before a new employee arrives for their first day, making sure everything is in place for their smooth transition into your company.

A new employee ‘diamond’ could still turn to a ‘sour grape’ if you have not complied with laws and regulations during the induction process, any legal trip up can lead to a costly fine. Your legal responsibilities include checking and recording evidence of an employee’s Right to Work eligibility, and providing basic Health and Safety training when an employee starts. Non-compliance in these two combined could cost your business up to £25,000! Also, with the average Tribunal Discrimination award being £10,000+ it is important to ensure you show no discrimination; knowing what health checks you can make, monitoring for disability, and checking credentials of all applicants at the same point in the induction process.

Looking for help with your induction policies and procedures?

Learn more about HR Creator here: The quick and easy way to setup your induction processes right! – Priced from £29

Are your HR policies ready for the Olympics?

Question: The start of the 2012 Olympics is approaching fast! Is your business ready? Answers: a. We’re not based in the centre of London! b. Nothing positive to gain? c. Still plenty of time! d. We can deal with anything as it arises? e. No some summer London 2012 event dates are shown here, click to go to Olympics competition dates

If you are answering a-e from the answers on the right, or are unsure whether ‘this Olympics thing’ is really important to your business – please read on.

Most of the Olympic activity will be within the school summer holidays when managing employee holiday time and the resultant skeleton staff is usually difficult enough. Now add the impact of 10.8million tickets being sold for Olympics and Paralympics spectators and 70,000 volunteers giving ten days each to help run the Games. Don’t forget the combination of other summer events; see right for just a sample, also drawing thousands away from work. Are your HR policies ready to handle the increase in holiday requests?

Head of culture and sports group at Kent County Council, Chris Hespe said, “This is the greatest show on earth – it’s the equivalent of having a G20 summit, two FA cups and a Wimbledon every day for two weeks in London”. Although maybe a slight exaggeration by Hespe; this is definitely an event that many of your employees won’t want to miss, even if just by catching some of the TV/Internet coverage. Are your HR policies ready to provide flexible working hours to enable watching of the Games with minimal interruption to your business?

While most of the festivities are to be held across London (see affected areas), there will be a wide range of events all across the UK including ‘Live sites’. The Torch Relay preceding the opening ceremony comes within 10miles of 95% of people in the UK*. Events and cultural celebrations, large and small, are being held all along the relay route so it would not be surprising if many of your employees are involved in the celebrations at some point (Torch route information) . Such events can lead to a splurge in unauthorised absence, not only from employees forgetting to book off holiday in time, but also from post celebration malaise. Are your HR policies ready for an increase in pressure from unauthorised absence?

Heavy traffic can be expected around events including those not in the capital, and knock-on effects can be expected on alternative routes from vehicles trying to avoid the worst of it. This traffic may have a considerable effect on staff punctuality. Have expectations/alternatives been communicated with affected staff to reduce the impact on your business?

Acas Chief Executive John Taylor said: “We’re finally on the home straight to the 2012 Olympics and employers should have plans for managing employees’ involvement whether volunteering or those watching the events.” Read our factsheet to help you check that your business HR policies are ready!

*UK, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey

Human Resources v Personnel – What’s in a Title? cont.

How the terms Human Resources and Personnel are viewed by Employees, Companies, and Professionals, and the differences between UK and the US

HR – Where did the people go?Human Resources Paper

Human Resources, Personnel, People Management – whatever you want to call it they are essentially the same thing – Wikipedia even has the same page yet the word ‘Personnel’ is purely a passing comment on the page.

Human Resources is listed as: “the name of the function within an organization charged with the overall responsibility for implementing strategies and policies relating to the management of individuals (i.e. the human resources) “ Ah! Simple – Strategies, Policies, People.

So not a means to stop a Company from functioning due to rules and legislation, or to stand up in front of a tribunal. You would be excused from thinking this was the purpose of HR. In SME’s the focus on HR can be even smaller, a sideline for someone in Admin to cope with on top of their usual duties, or for the owner to try to keep in touch with whilst running the Company.

The people aspect has gone – long gone is the Personnel department who dealt with that. Now it is too much about the Laws and Legislation and trying to stop the problems when they occur. The support and development of staff can all too easily be lost, which can lead to more problems in the long term. Under utilised staff, no development prospects, and no guidelines in place if something does go wrong.

Let’s bring back the people aspect, and support and develop them to save the possible long-term problems of tribunals and yet more work to comply.

Ah! People, Policies, Strategies – now that’s a better order.

What is your view on Human Resources and what their focus should be in a Company?

Human Resources v Personnel – What’s in a Title?

How the terms Human Resources and Personnel are viewed by Employees, Companies, and Professionals, and the differences between UK and the US.

The Personality of Human Resources: What happened to Personnel?

Human Resources Paper

Everyone talks about Human Resources with a frown – those people that try to keep the Company on the correct side of the Law. Always implementing yet more policies to stop you from getting on with your job. The ones you go to see when your work isn’t up to scratch.

It’s all about the legislation and making sure you toe the line.

Ask an employee what they think the difference is about Human Resources or Personnel and they can be seen as quite different personalities. Human Resources – the face of the Company, corporate, business orientated. Personnel – people, more staff orientated, more approachable.

Human Resources comes over as people as a use, a commodity, a resource.

Personnel sparks of people, individuals, real live living beings.

I can in no way buck the trend of the use of Human Resources. New terms like Human Capital and Human Services are now coming in which seem to move it even further from the personal touch.

I know HR is about more than just people management, and Personnel is a thing of the past, but we need to give it back a more people orientated feel. Development and working with employees, improving them to improve the Company – not just comply with the minimal to cover the Law.

Employees are not just a commodity they are the thing that can grow or limit a Company. How is your ‘Resource’ used? Let me know your comments below.