This week’s lettersWomen hindered by more than pay I can relate to your article Women in HR lose out on pay and promotion, inlots of ways, but I believe the problem goes far deeper (News, 7 January).Length of service and age can also be huge obstacles for HR professionals,particularly women. I joined the profession at the age of 38, initially in the role of personneladministrator, having had a secretarial background in the company. The personnel manager at the time valued my interpersonal skills andenthusiasm for being part of a team that cared about the business, and Ihappily sat in that role for 18 months before being promoted to personnelofficer. I was working for a large financial services company with more than 700 callcentre staff. My energy and passion for success drove me to succeed, and my reputationwent before me. I changed many things for the better – particularly inbehavioural training and recruitment. Then, as all big companies do, we restructured the personnel team andrecruited a male HR controller – and boy did he control. He turned us into anHR team, which was the right decision to make – but I became the sole survivor.The controller told me that if I was to continue to survive, I’d have tostudy for the CIPD qualification. It took four years on a part-time basis,during which the HR controller left the company. I then worked under asuccession of male managers. Despite more than 20 years’ experience within the company, I decided Ididn’t fit in with the new HR culture. The team expanded with the addition oflots of young graduates and I felt undervalued. So, I moved to a company thatwas almost 10 years behind in terms of HR strategies. I have now been in this role for four years and still hold the position ofHR officer. I have experienced two managers and I am the longest serving memberof the team, the eldest and the most respected by the main bulk of employees. My boss is now recruiting HR staff and is targeting young women in their 20s– so here we go again. I have raised a formal grievance with my manager, because although we get onwell, I think he is ignoring my expertise. At 47 years of age, I feelthreatened. Not only do women lose out on pay and promotion in HR, we are alsohindered by our length of service and age. Name and address supplied Stress not confined to the workplace There are undoubtedly drivers of stress in the workplace and these arehighlighted in your front page article (News, 14 January). But what was not mentioned, is the fact that in my experience work-relatedstress is rarely in attributable solely to the workplace. It is nearly alwaysinfluenced by domestic and personal circumstances. The danger in ignoring thisis that it will become accepted wisdom that stress is solely an employmentproblem to be remedied by increasing legislation and placing an unfair burdenon employers. This will do little to tackle the other causes, which appear harder todefine and often seem to lie somewhere within society, individual expectationsand personal choices. It may be the case that because the workplace often makestangible demands on people operating in close proximity to each other, itbecomes the forum in which the symptoms of stress become more manifest. However, although individuals may find a voice or a subconscious hook fortheir issues at work, this belies the fact that in many cases, the real causelies elsewhere. An examination of this complex issue and why it appears to be such a modernaffliction is definitely required. It is foolhardy to assume that yet morelegislation will prevent stress, when the roots of stress are not yet fullyunderstood. Jane Thompson HR adviser, RS Components UK HSE will create a checklist mentality Having worked in employee welfare for the past 18 years, I welcome the moveby the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to place tough new stress managementstandards on employers this year. However, I am concerned that by simply imposing a new set of regulations,the HSE will create a ‘checklist mentality’ among employers, leading them totackle stress from a regulatory point of view, rather than addressing the widerissues. Effective stress management is best driven from board-level down. Seniormanagers must devote time and resources to looking at the causes of stress –assessing how and why stress is created and how to reduce it. Until a cultural change takes place at board level that acknowledges stressas a legitimate concern, effective stress management will never be achieved. The move by the HSE is certainly a step in the right direction, but we riskreinforcing ‘sticking plaster’ measures against stresses that are currentlyprevalent in the workplace, rather than aiming to prevent them in the firstplace. Bruce Greenhalgh Employee assistance manager, Accenture HR Services Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. LettersOn 28 Jan 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.