Are All Heads of Human Resources and HR Departments Filled With Idiots? 11 Comments


No, they are not. Human Resources as a profession can be an extremely rewarding one, when working for an organization that values the investments it makes – especially its’ workforce. As with any job function in a company there is a broad spectrum of views, performance, self awareness, and emotional competence.

Irregardless of what you think about the Human Resources Department at your company (or previous companies), ABC News’ 20/20 team wants to paint a picture filled with deception, lies, and company agendas with the episode that aired last week (True Confessions) – titled  “Confessions from the Corner Office, Ex-HR Exec Tells All”.

If you didn’t see the show, you can watch the 6 minute interview via YouTube with Cynthia Shapiro (referred to as the former company “hatchet woman”.

In the interview, Shapiro shares:

  • A warning to candidates about “traps” with pictures of children on an interviewers desk, and an edict from upper management to not hire moms
  • The “let me walk you to your car” trick after the interview
  • Once you land a job, prepare yourself for a game of survivor where only your boss knows the rules.
  • Your vacation plans can get you on the layoff list, because companies move too fast
  • Bosses may put you on the layoff list – for the way you look
  • Only Executives get to have gray hair – it’s not fair but that’s how it goes
  • Being pregnant isn’t always celebrated
  • She was paid big bucks to find gray areas around the laws that would allow companies do what they want to do
  • The dirtiest secret of all is company being rarely tell the reason they landed on the layoff list
  • HR people may kill her for telling this on TV, but they will “create” documentation
  • Her best tip for staying off the companies layoff list, be a brown-noser

I am appalled (to say the least) at what was shared in the interview. Not from a standpoint of whether or not bad things can happen – but from the views as everything Shapiro stated is fact or “truth” for the workforce at large. Take the interviewer example from Shapiro – she knows a (meaning one) HR Director who places fake pictures of kids on her desk as a test.

Sure, we live in a society filled with “you can’t make this sh*t up”, and the HR profession has its’ challenges. Yet this is a perfect example of taking a small percent of problems companies face and pointing the finger at Human Resources given all of “their dirty little secrets”.

What are others saying about Shapiro’s interview across the web and via social channels? Here are a few excerpts (primarily from non Human Resources professionals):

  • Much of what was stated is, in my opinion, is very true. They are so guilty of everything.
  • The jobs I have gotten, I “forgot” to mention I had kids.
  • I have experience this first hand. The EEOC is in cohorts with the employers.
  • I was an HR for a Fortune 50 company for 11 years. It is embarrassing to admit that I was HR.
  • It is Corporate Resources, clearly not Human.
  • I’ve suspected some of the policies Ms. Shapiro exposed, she just verified them.
  • I suspect the HR people who are here protesting Ms. Shapiro are unhappy about being “ousted”.
  • It has been my experience that Ms. Shapiro is speaking the truth.
  • I see that the only ones disagreeing with Ms. Shapiro are the HR spies.
  • This was a great piece. Coming from HR, I can attest these practices are alive and well.
  • Thank you Ms. Shapiro for this very true, insightful look at what HR is really for.
  • HR is not the employees advocate just a spy for the C-level suits.
  • So true, especially the HR part, HR is there to protect the company from it’s own employees.

There are obviously several factors that play into whether or not a company an individual works at embraces the concept of a mutually beneficial (employment) relationship.

If you are experiencing any of the examples in the interview, protect yourself and get some legal advice. If not, for your own identity don’t take a victim (the world is out to get me) approach, or point fingers at HR when (maybe) you should look in the mirror and reflect on your own function and field of expertise – and your job performance.

The reality is there are a lot of great companies, and yes, based on all of the comments obviously some bad ones too. An employment relationship is a 2-way street and your performance is the pavement.

About Jason Buss

Talent HQ’s creator and editor is Recruiting & Diversity Leader, Jason Buss. Talent HQ is a premier online news and information channel for the Recruiting and Human Resources community.

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  • Posted on: Tuesday, May 1st, 2012