Ethical HR

Strategic HR Review

ISSN: 1475-4398

Article publication date: 8 August 2008


Nolan, S. (2008), "Ethical HR", Strategic HR Review, Vol. 7 No. 5.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Ethical HR

Article Type: Editorial From: Strategic HR Review, Volume 7, Issue 5

This issue of Strategic HR Review investigates diversity in the workplace and corporate social responsibility – two ethical considerations for HR, although not the only considerations contributing to an ethical HR approach. Ethical HR itself is not new, and the profession has long embraced and encouraged organizational principles and codes of practice. However, diversity and CSR do represent two prominent considerations for HR practitioners today, with the former more often than not entwined in legislative requirements that provide some direction, while the latter, to a large extent, remains shrouded in ambiguity and open to interpretation. Both have become key considerations in attracting new and emerging talent and are a prerequisite for gaining the support of a broadening set of stakeholders, and the makes them prominent business issues. We asked key authors to address both issues from a HR and business perspective and they have produced a thought provoking and practical set of papers that we hope will prove both useful and stimulating.

Andrea Broughton and Marie Strebler tackle the topic of diversity in their paper, “Reaping benefits from diversity”. The aim of this paper is to learn from organizations that have successfully implemented diversity initiatives that are delivering. The authors examine three organizations from three sectors – a business and IT company, an automotive manufacturer and a charity organization – in order to find out more about their diversity initiatives, the drivers behind them, how they were implemented and how they are measured. The results provide a useful insight and guide to those addressing the issue of diversity in their own organizations. A key message to emerge is that organizations have to fully embrace diversity initiatives and to demonstrate that they are serious about them in order to get buy-in from staff and other stakeholders and to reap the benefits. For this to happen a business case is required and senior management support must be gained.

In “Managing and sustaining a world of workplace diversity: the Accenture experience”, Ismail Amla outlines some of Accenture’s achievements and recognition in the area of diversity and inclusion and explains some of the initiatives that led to those awards. He combines a global perspective with that of individual workers to show how the organization’s worldwide commitment to diversity is making a difference at a global, local and individual level. Commitment to diversity is embedded in the organization’s values and in its leadership behavior. This allows it to reach across the organization’s global operations so that it can mirror the communities in which it works and lives, provide consistently high levels of service and innovation, and attract and retain emerging talent.

Sarah Churchman and Cleo Thompson’s article, “Delivering gender diversity – beyond the business case”, provides an interesting insight into the ongoing gender diversity journey at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Women represent half of PwC’s global workforce and its strategy in some regions is about providing an environment that allows women to progress and to be successful in positions of leadership, while in other regions it is still about building the foundations of recruitment and retention. The authors provide a global view of the organization’s successful approach to gender diversity, in addition to a national perspective that focuses in on some of the achievements in the UK business. There is an overriding message in this paper – PwC’s success in delivering gender diversity is due to the fact that it is seen as a business imperative that impacts the bottom line and not just a social or moral issue. It is given priority in the boardroom and is championed from the top of the organization.

In his paper, “Equipping leaders for the 21st century”, Jock Encombe points out that a new model of leadership is required if leaders are to meet the demands of the new world, in which organizations are expected to make a contribution to the wider world. This new model must be based around creating a meaningful work environment, and such an environment will, he says, help attract and retain the best talent. He outlines the key dimensions of a meaningful organization, in addition to the values required to lead such an organization. Encombe concludes with some practical advice, including a guide for organizations to benchmark their leadership mindset against what is required for the future and the experiences of one organization that has taken steps towards adopting the 21st century mindset.

Mike Emmott and Dianah Worman, specialist advisers at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, provide a practical insight into CSR and diversity in their article, “The steady rise of CSR and diversity in the workplace”. They explain how people policies and people management are at the heart of CSR and diversity, and discuss how the strategic importance of both issues provides HR with an opportunity to demonstrate its strategic value to the organization. This is backed up by two best practice guides based on the experience and quantitative and qualitative research of the CIPD – Mike Emmott focuses on CSR, what it means in the workplace and how HR professionals can implement or encourage its take up in a strategic and meaningful way, while Dianah Worman tackles diversity, explaining its role in the workplace and its importance to HR professionals in helping organizations gain competitive advantage.

Sara NolanE-mail: