HR is not for lazy people.  Working in HR involves a lot of work and that includes working with PEOPLE!

HR is trending again in the news, but not in a positive way. With all the harassment and discrimination that has recently come to light, the common denominator is this: HR didn’t do a thing! HR personnel either proved to be ignorant concerning their duties in this area, or just plain lazy! Either way, it’s not acceptable, and the fear of losing one’s job is no excuse.

If fear for one’s livelihood is prompted by a desire to do the right thing, it means that our work culture is even more toxic than one might think. Don’t be part of the rot that is slowly killing your organization. No HR Pro should ever tolerate such behavior, even if our jobs are at risk.

We can’t be lazy when it comes to harassment complaints (or any employee issues)!

  1. Deal with it. Don’t excuse it.
  2. Listen, don’t judge, don’t retaliate
  3. Investigate and document every conversation you have with everyone involved
  4. Make the necessary recommendations.


First and foremost, an HR pro must protect employees, and must make this a priority that supersedes selfish concerns.

  1. Remember: protecting the employees is ultimately protecting the organization
  2. Remember: protecting a person in power or leadership is NOT protecting the organization.
  3. If threatened by management, turn to the EEOC.

Yes! We can blow the whistle on those who protect the harasser. We can call to account those who throw the victims under the bus.

When misdeeds are allowed to snowball, this inevitably makes things worse. They eventually come to light, affecting the organization’s reputation and profitability in a way that cannot be readily remedied. It could cost the company millions of dollars in judgements and court fees! Being the founder or the CEO is no longer a shield of protection. The founder for Uber, Travis Kalanik, Harvey Weinstein, and Kevin Spacey, have all been axed for inappropriate behavior and illegal activities in the workplace. As far as I’m concerned, the ax should also fall on the cowardly and irresponsible HR pros who tacitly enabled their behavior.

As HR Pros, we must be courageous, fighting for what is fair, what is right, and what is ethical.  If we can’t do that, who will?  Organizations need to recognize that in order for HR to be effective, it’s practitioners must to be supported and empowered—a beacon of light for everyone in the organization.  For HR to be truly be business partners, our mission to keep the organization in compliance and be competitive in the job market has to be welcomed instead of threatened.

Corporate leaders: Invest in HR and invest in your people. Your leaders and superstars may bring you robust profits in the short term, but if their performance is marred by toxic behavior the long-term costs may be extraordinary.


Penalties and fines.

Court awarded damages.

Tainted reputations.

Don’t commit career suicide by covering up the misdeeds of callous and entitled individuals.

HR is not for lazy people.  It’s a complex field that calls upon us to wear many hats—sometimes two or three at once.  As HR pros, we are mentors, teachers, therapists, mediators, legal wranglers, safety experts, marketing mavens, and techies. Most of us do it all.

We not only help write policies, we teach them and reinforces them. We do this across the board, at every level in the organization. As Steve Browne (@sbrownehr) said, “We are responsible for every employment’s life cycle – from talent acquisition through termination or retirement”. We provide services to every single employee, and even former employees.  This includes broadcasting an unequivocal message:

  • Harassment will not be tolerated
  • Harassment will be reported and investigated using well-defined processes
  • Harassment training will be completed on an annual basis, at the very least.
  • Prevention is key!

We are constantly learning, and not just because we need CE for our recertification. We keep learning in order to become more effective in the workplace. It is how we can protect our organizations and employees in the face of constant change. From legal compliance to best practices, the sand is always shifting under our feet. That learning process has taught us how to deal with toxic employees within a well-understood legal framework. We have the skills, we have the knowledge, but we must, in addition, have the confidence and courage and will.

Being lazy or complacent jeopardizes our organization, employees, and ultimately, our job!

#HRCourage #TogetherForward #SHRM18 #MeToo

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