July 17, 2018 / Point of View
As the Time’s Up/Advertising movement builds, HR professionals can play a key role in helping foster safe, respectful and inclusive agency cultures – if only agency senior leadership would let them.
After attending this year’s 4A’s Talent@2030 conference, I learned that many HR professionals are essentially powerless when it comes to fostering safe and inclusive workplaces because, in part, of their limited representation in the C-suite. The HR and talent professional audience was asked if they had a seat at the table and a relationship with their CEOs. As I proudly raised my hand in agreement, I looked around the room and was disheartened to see that less than half the group agreed. I wondered why so few raised their hands. How could HR professionals possibly foster inclusion and prevent discrimination and harassment if they did not have the support of their CEOs? No wonder the profession is feeling the heat in our #MeToo world.
While many HR departments are being vilified for allowing harassment to perpetuate, we should be taking a hard look at how the practice is viewed and treated inside organizations.
Being a part of the problem should never be tolerated, but if HR directors don’t have a connection to leadership, problems will persist and change will not happen. HR does not have the power to do this alone; they need senior leaders who share agency values and vision, as well as have their backs. Together, HR, CEOs and senior leaders need to foster an inclusive culture of zero tolerance and enforce it consistently.
My hope is that the industry will recognize how active training, accountability and reinforcement can nurture a human-centered culture with dignity and creativity, and how HR professionals can play a key role. For HR professionals, there are four ways to facilitate the process.
It’s clear that policies and training alone will not prevent discrimination and harassment. It takes HR professionals partnering with their CEOs and senior leaders to protect agencies’ cultures and their most important assets. Fortunately, I work with a team of female and male senior leaders who respect the HR practice and always value my experience and knowledge. Let’s make this the norm.