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HR - What is it good for? Absolutely nothing

By Malcolm King - posted Thursday, 13 August 2009


Human Resources recruitment agencies are parasites sucking money out of both the public and private service. For years now I have been imploring CEO’s to pluck these bloodsuckers off the body corporate.

Many are simply management lackeys. As Woody Allen once said, they are “a sham of a mockery of a sham”. I should know. I run a HR business.

HR planning is like a ritual rain dance. It has no effect on the weather that follows, but those who engage in it think it does. Moreover, much advice related to HR planning is directed at improving the dancing, not the weather.

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Australian National University recently carried out a large study of employers who were advertising on the Internet for entry-level hospitality, data entry and customer service jobs.

They sent out 4,000 fake job applications and changed only the racial origin of the supposed applicants’ names. How the researchers ever got their idea past an ethics committee is another matter. But it’s a great example of real world social research and they should be congratulated.

When they tallied the results, they found that those with a Chinese name had a one in five chance of getting a job interview compared to Anglo-Saxon names, who had a one in three chance. The resumes were identical apart from the ethnic origins of the names.

One of the ANU researchers, Dr Andrew Leigh, said in The Age recently that it was clear that employers discriminated on the basis of the racial origin of applicant’s names.

“There is no other reasonable interpretation of our results,” he said.

Dr Leigh and his team have reconfirmed a fact that we already know. It’s easier to get a job if you’re a true blue, dinky-die, Skippy-the-Kangaroo Aussie.

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Why do we tolerate this blatant racism? HR boffins say that they are only doing the bidding of their bosses and that they have no power over the selection process. They are simply lickspittle administrators.

Get real. They took on the job knowing full well that when the going gets tough, it’s their job to smile as they hand out the redundancy notices. Citing the Nuremberg Defence only compounds their sins.

The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his are the same - that’s why management hire HR people.

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About the Author

Malcolm King works in generational workforce change. He was an associate director at DEEWR Labour Market Strategy in Canberra and the senior communications strategist at Carnegie Mellon University. He also runs a professional writing business called Republic.

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