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Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Write To The Editor Reprints

  I just glanced at the article you wrote for HRE Online, and I was sorely disappointed in it. It felt, to be frank, toadying.

  To me, the most salient point was buried near the bottom of the article in a couple of short paragraphs:

  "Second, the general workforce is not sharing in company financial gains. Stock options have been scaled back significantly in the broader workforce because accounting rules now require companies to expense stock options.

  In addition, benefits have been scaled back and rising benefit costs have been passed on to employees. Workforce reductions remain commonplace. This dichotomy of increasing pay at the top versus stagnant pay below is a point of contention in a country faced with increasing wealth inequality."


  As I say, I only skimmed your article, but most of the numbers I saw pinned CEO compensation a couple of percentage points above their performance. Those amounts in real numbers (given that exec compensation is typically in the millions) would have a much higher impact on the lives of the workers of those companies than they do on the execs receiving them. I mean really, Jack, when you are making millions, what do a few more plus or minus mean to you? When you are making thousands, guess what a million more or less means?

  And how is it that part of their performance rating is NOT their ability to improve the lot of their workforce, one of their key stakeholders?

  I'm sure your organization is trying to position itself to work on the high end of HR compensation, as that's where the money is -- so do I. But don't sell out the people who make your paycheck as well as that of the CEO possible in the process.

  And don't sell out the CEO's either -- they don't need more sycophants around them telling them they have clothes on when they don't. It's not an easy job heading a huge corporation, we all know that. But it's a lot easier when one is coming from a place of community, integrity, and service. Too many of our CEOs, particularly in the US, aren't being adequately supported (or where need be, challenged) to do that, particularly in the difficult arena of paychecks and distribution of wealth.

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  And may I respectfully offer to the editors of this publication that too many of the articles I've seen from you fall into the above-mentioned traps.

  I seldom do more than glance at your headlines, because so much of what I see simply perpetuates the view that most people outside of HR have of HR -- that all that potentially most valuable department does is crunch numbers and try to squeeze blood from the increasingly arid stones of benefits packages, as opposed to engaging in meaningful dialogue that would address the very real concerns of the working people on whose backs the great wealth of this country (not to mention the rest of the world) is made.

  Deborah Huisken,

  Dancing Star International

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