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More on Ethics - Areas for Concern!

The search person says to the HR person:  I want to lead a discussion on Ethics in the Search Field. The HR person responds:  Well that won't take long! Sad, but all too true - and these past weeks have given me reason to (at least partially) agree.  I am an HR person by background and still consider myself to be in that broadly-defined field.  HR as a function should strive to be a business partner; that said, they should also make sure certain tenets are followed.  I have found myself responding as an HR person to a few items - and then I started worrying about the search field.

We should know better!

Two different HR leaders . . . . . two different stories . . . . . 1)   An HR leader was asked directly by a respected search consultant (in the Twin Cities) for the year they graduated high school.  (The HR leader was shocked but politely answered the question.  We can argue the merits of that later.)  I give up . . . . . under what circumstance is that pertinent information?  How would one use it?  I can think of only one reason for asking the question.  You can determine the candidate's age within one year.  Is the search person discriminating?  Were they asked to discriminate?  (NOTE - the search person is an extension of the employer - and I know [or at least hope] that no employer would 'directly' ask.)

There's more . . . . . .

2)   It was suggested by a search consultant (in the Twin Cities) that an HR person (a different person than referenced above) change the date that their employment ended.  It's January 2012.  The HR person's employment ended in December of 2011.  The search person said to use 2012 as the date on the resume.  The search person's concern was that using 2011 could imply that employment ended as early as January of 2011 - a full year ago.  Using 2012 keeps the timeframe more recent in the reader's mind.  (I know there are other ways this situation can be handled.)

What is our obligation to our client (the employer)?  What is our obligation to our profession?

As I have reported in the past, SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) has a Code of Ethics.  This is its core principal:
  • HR professionals are expected to exhibit individual leadership as a role model for maintaining the highest standards of ethical conduct.
Not too specific – but we are paid to make decisions, not simply follow a recipe.  SHRM continues with Guidelines (among other things).  The first of these guidelines left me a bit uncertain:
  • Be ethical; act ethically in every professional interaction.
Search professionals - we can and should be held to a high standard.  Employers - ask questions of your search firm and assure we are meeting your standards!  The Ethics in the Search Field discussion should NOT be a short one - or the punchline to a joke.