· 1 min read · News

We need to find the HR poster boys and girls of the profession


HR in so many places is done badly. That is the view of Neil Morrison, group HRD at publisher Random House. It is also the reason why people who want to make an impact in the business world rarely view HR as a career of choice.

It is perhaps no wonder when the National Career Service (NCS) describes HR as the ideal career for those who "want to work in an office" and "like working with people". A "robust" and "solid" career, the NCS adds. Hardly words to set the Thames on fire and inspire those who want to be change champions, who are curious, will take risks, challenge and innovate. But these are exactly the qualities we need in HR today.

One barrier to attracting the best into HR is the career path. The NCS describes progression in this sector as "admin assistants, officers and managers". Not a career for those who want to influence decisions at the top, or make it to a board director position, then.

Sadly, Morrison talks of feeling he almost has to apologise to those he meets for the people they have previously come across in HR. It is clear there is still a negative perception of HR in many places.

Role models are vital here - and one of the reasons why HR magazine runs its HR Most Influential ranking and HR Excellence Awards annually. Such events have their detractors: those who think they are all about self-congratulation and ego or, worse, just drunken nights out (the very idea). I disagree. This is one of the ways we can create heroes. Without visibility there will be no role models for the younger generation of would-be HR challengers to aspire to.

Another criticism regularly made of HR concerns its lack of business acumen. Anna Penfold, client partner, HR, at executive recruiter Korn Ferry, speaks of a need for "more upgrading of HR".

While the HR directors I know are inspirational, strategic and extremely accomplished in business, there are still some gaps out there. That is why this month we launch two important extensions to the HR brand: HRjobs.co.uk and HR in the Boardroom. First, we want to help those earlier on the career ladder to progress to that next important role. And second, we want to help those who already head HR to develop further skills so they can take that next step onto the board.

You can find details of both within this issue. As the old adage goes, together we can change the world - and together we can make HR that career of choice.