I had been thinking about this notion of HR getting a seat at the executive table. This “Seat at the Table” conversation has been highly discussed, debated and analyzed for years. You can Google it and find a ton of information. On Twitter in the HR space, the topic comes up annually especially around conference season. Conference season kicks off in March and it’s just what it sounds like, the HR professional association, SHRM, has its individual state conferences and it’s big daddy of them all, the national conference. At least one of the speakers is bound to utter the phrase, “Seat at the table.”
Ironically, as I was writing this very article I got an email from the “HR Advisor” titled “Seat at the table? You are the table.” Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.
It’s no revelation that HR’s biggest problem is that we do not produce revenue. We are not like the marketing department or the sales team. We don’t land large accounts but maybe we should. Wouldn’t it be great if high powered work organizations were able to attract other business and partnerships based exclusively on the performance of the HR team? I don’t have any official stats on this but I doubt if a multi-million dollar merger, buy-out or acquisition teetered on the functionalty of HR team.
Since we save money and do not earn money for corporations, we are predominately designated to the supportive/administrative roles within the organization. We are not valued as strategic partners when times are tough, like now. We are viewed as expandable. We can be outsourced with no real effect on the financial aspects of business.
How did this happen to us? Who’s to blame? Well…we are.
We have contributed to our own demise simple because we are interchangeable, replaceable and cheap. Most companies want the type of HR department that will manage the employees, pacify their gripes, keep the company out of court and do what they say; when they say. Any HR professional will tell you that at some point in their career they were asked to “get around” or “bend” a law or rule. Rarely do we step up and say “no.” We do their bidding, without batting an eye or raising a flag. We are so accustomed to doing the wrong thing that we even offer up ways to circumvent the rules voluntarily. We know that if we don’t do it the company will find another HR professional, or my personal favorite the HR wonna-be, to come in and do the job with no questions asked.
Maybe we should speak out. We know where the organization buries its bodies and hides its dirt. Maybe we should stop protecting these organizations and start exposing them, instead of suffering in silence like victims of domestic abuse. But we can’t do that because we are the group hired to protect the company, and we take that very seriously. We’ll just have to keep plugging away while chasing that seat at the table.