Close this search box.

Latest Synopsis

theHRDIRECTOR – Latest Synopsis


Independence is our strength – covering the issues that directly impact on those with the duty of directing human resources

ISSUE 237 – Synopsis – JULY 2024

Building a diverse leadership
In issue 232 of theHRDIRECTOR, our cover interviewee (and newly-appointed Editorial Panellist of this magazine) Maxine Bonwick, HR Director UK of Renault said: “If you employ people from diverse backgrounds and you really want to create a place that is truly innovative, then you definitely need diverse leadership. To sit in a room with peer leaders and to call out groupthink requires real honesty, but it’s essential”. The deep-seated challenges of diversity are historic and entrenched – foundationally set by generations of upper- and middle-class, neurotypical men – creating a world based on their vision, principals, requirements and expectations. Consequently, adapting and changing laws, policies, mindsets and social and workplace structures to support diversity, are inexorably slow and prone to being blown off course. Indeed, across the demographic, it is those that can best thrive that make it to the top. The prospects of a truly equal, inclusive and egalitarian society are lightyears away. There are many groups across the demographic that are unsupported, excluded, disenfranchised and disengaged and unless that changes at the earliest point of life and education – and is sustained on the complete journey to the workplace – true diversity in leadership will never become an accepted-as-the-norm, organic and sustained reality. To improve diversity in leadership outcomes for the future, we need to compare how companies that have a diverse leadership compete against those that do not. This has yet to be bench-tested and analysed with rigour but would provide important guidance to organisations and industries that are lagging behind. Another burning question, is legislation pushing the agenda? Looking ahead, we need to unpack the deep neurological and systemic inequalities across society, as well as the workplace. But as Maxine Bonwick says, “that requires real honesty, but it’s essential”.

Time to end sexism and misogyny in work
There is no more patent and universal example of sexism than paying women less for doing the same job as male peers. It embodies a primevally complex and prevailing attitude, mindset and culture of a gender caste system and social stereotyping, which has held back and sidelined generations of women. In more recent times, gender equality has shifted positively, but not without paying a price – the insidious and inexorable rise of misogyny – which manifests in bullying, control, subjugation, denigration and ridicule of women, punishing those that have the temerity to challenge and attempt to redress an ancient patriarchy. So how can real and lasting change be made? The controversial – and in some quarters derided leadership quotas – mandatorily moved the dial, but as of 2023, in 1000 of the World’s largest companies, only 64 CEOs were women and 98.3 percent of employees have a male Chief Exec. The great hope was that flexible working – and changes to paternity leave – had redressed the animosity towards women, trying to balance a career and a family, but has it? As businesses claw back time-and-location freedoms – that, to some degree levelled the playing field and gave women more control of time, – are those gains now in peril? The reality is, sexism and misogyny still exist in too many workplaces – even progressive ones – and despite most organisations encouraging a “see it, name it, stop it” directive, the fear of being branded “woke”, deters many from calling it out and intervening. The challenge is, where is the incentive to change, when the majority – and those with power – are not the ones experiencing the issues? Where is the benchmarking and legislation in the wake of the gender balance quotas? Has the power of #metoo diminished due to the news agenda moving on?

Performance management
Historically, PM was all about showing lineage between individual input and EBITDA. But that simply will not fly in this new era of work, which thrives on asynchronous communication and cross-department collaboration. Now performance must be predicated on soft skills, effective communication and teamwork – both virtually and in person – and the sense to know when to lead and when to take supporting roles in projects. Equally, self-responsibility, resilience and agility are essential elements in performance and operations and how to stay motivated under ever-changing environments, being able to think fast and adapt to any change and challenge the future brings. Increasingly too, performance is about an innate understanding of diversity, equality and inclusion, particularly in global businesses. The challenge is, whilst in the past it was possible to show whether employees were giving their “pound of flesh”, now PM has to understand elements that are far more nuanced and tenuous. This means promoting emotional intelligence over physical input and that means evaluation itself has to be flexible and open-ended, not a rigid set of criteria. Surely then, the annual/biannual performance management meeting is resigned to history? Instead, frequent micro-evaluations and organic communication enable a re-examination of objectives and allow for adjustment of approaches, to ensure that evaluation is real-time, relevant and stays connected to the forward agenda, not revisiting the past. The future of PM is about forging relationships in which no party is afraid to speak up and that means fostering human connection and personal and professional development. But above all, outdated performance mindsets and processes need to be replaced by trust, ownership, creativity and simplification. It’s about a total mindset shift away from the parameters of conventional work that stymied innovation, diversity-of-thought and kept intellectual property locked in the boardroom.

Change management
Change looms with menace when new ways threaten “the way we do things” and where there is a perceived danger, it is natural to react with suspicion and avoidance. This typically leads to a breakdown in communication, through what seems like abrupt and forced change without consultation, leaving the unaware and uninformed at the mercy of the rumour mill.  One of the biggest sticking points in change is the risk of indifference. It is not enough to just introduce new directives through the back door, people need to be convinced that change is for the individual and greater good. When the path to change is strewn with mistrust, broken communication and confused messaging, the chances of success diminish and the gap between those that have to disrupt – leaders/decision makers – and those that are disrupted, employees grow wider. With change the now clichéd new normal, what defines business competitiveness is the confidence to disrupt, to implement change that improves operations, but any aversion to change is the ultimate antitheses of progress. Psychology and neuroscience have brought more understanding of how human beings experience and react to change, but there is no replacement for good old-fashioned conversation and relationship building to bring clarity, trust and understanding and empower employees to be proactive in change is paramount. As important as sound business stewardship and ethics are, creative vision building, that frames both the business objectives and the people that need to bring plans to fruition, is integral to effective change management.

As with all our subjects for issue 237, we welcome your suggestions for potential articles, to inform and bring insight to our readers.

Please post them on our Editorial Portal.

Please click here to submit your article for our flagship publication.

If you would like to be added to our Monthly Synopsis Mailing List, please CLICK HERE

Read the latest digital issue of theHRDIRECTOR for FREE

Read the latest digital issue of theHRDIRECTOR for FREE