The Royal Liverpool Hospital’s recent embarrassing recruitment blunder, where “the usual Equal Opps employer rubbish” appeared on a job advert rather than the official Equal Opportunities statement, has provoked a variety of reactions. But what interested me was that the hospital responded by giving the standard PR message of “fully committed to equal opportunities, won awards for it, must have been a rogue employee”.
It’s a constant source of amazement to me how many of these rogue employees there seem to be around at the moment, causing no end of problems for Swiss Bank UBS and News International among others. And how often it often turns out that in fact these so-called rogues are in fact simply typical of the organisation they work for. As Steve Coogan (not someone I expect to quote often on HR issues) put it “The culture of the people on the shopfloor is a reflection of management. It always is”
One of the challenges for HR people is recognising that the culture of an organisation is determined by the way leaders act, rather than their words. So at the Royal Liverpool, finding out why people treat their Equal Opportunities policies with such little regard is probably more important than identifying and disciplining staff for their faux pas. While not denying that there can be bad apples in an organisation, blaming organisational failures on “rogues” is starting to look a pretty feeble excuse.
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