Human Rights Issues in Talent Management
There is one set of issues which has received scant attention in Talent Management, namely the Human Rights of the individual whose career is being affected. The UK's Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has produced much literature on Talent Management and related fields but there is only the barest indication that it recognises human rights as an issue. For example, until July 2012 Human Rights was not mentioned in its Code of Conduct for members but currently there is a statement that members of the CIPD shall:-
2.4 advance employment and business practices that promote equality of opportunity, diversity and inclusion and support human rights and dignity.
Again, in the context of Succession Management the apologetic tone that "in the past those selected for succession were not offered much choice" provides some evidence of later awareness that there were human rights implications - but where are the analyses of human rights issues?
What is missing is a thorough analysis of human rights implication of talent management or indeed in Personnel & Development activities generally.
To provide focus, consider the following:-
A Head of Department in a Science Faculty of a University had a vacancy for a technical specialist. He advertised the post and one of the few applicants was from a local Hi-Tech Industrial company. A manager of the company then approached the Department Head, who he knew socially, and asked him, off the record, not to recruit the technical specialist as he was much needed by the company.
A Head of Department in a Science Faculty of a University was approached by a director of a large Hi-Tech Group of Companies and offered a senior job in one of its subsidiaries. The Department Head was happy with his University job and declined the offer.
The response of the Group was to invite the Administrator of the Faculty to join its top-level human resources committee, disclose to him a succession plan they had in mind for the academic and requested the Administrator to do what he could to discourage the Department Head in his job. After a period in which the Administrator, through his control of the paperwork of the Faculty and by personal remarks carried out the Company's request, an improved offer was made by the company. This time the Head of Department, who as a result of the Faculty Administrator's actions no longer enjoyed his University job, accepted.
Putting these scenarios to a group of middle managers on a management course yielded the general opinion that such behind-the-scenes practices are acceptable as long as the person concerned does not know what has taken place. A minority, however, found them objectionable but could not say why. It is the elucidation of what is acceptable and what is not in human rights terms that is the purpose of this document.
Declarations on Human Rights
International and National Declarations on Human Rights provide general principles.
The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights does not contain an article which manifestly covers Talent Management, Career Development and the like but the following might be applicable:-
Article 3 Everyone has the right to . . . liberty . . .
Article 4 No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; . . .
Article 12 arbitrary interference
Article 20 no-one compelled to belong to an association
Article 23 free choice of employment
Directgov lists a number of rights which UK citizens enjoy under the Human Rights Act 1998, which was derived from the European Convention on Human Rights. The- following may be relevant:
freedom from slavery and forced labour
the right to liberty
the right to respect for private and family life
freedom of thought, conscience and religion
freedom of expression
freedom of assembly and association
the right not to be discriminated against in respect of these rights and freedoms
The Declaration goes on to say:-
If any of these rights and freedoms are abused you have a right to an effective solution in law.
Classification of Human Rights Issues
Human rights activities have burgeoned in the past decade or two. Human Rights issues are generally concerned with the underdog, the impoverished, the oppressed minority group. To determine where Human Rights issues arising in connection with the career development of a talented minority fit in with the panoply of Human Rights concepts a pilot classification was devised based on what the websites of two organisations - Amnesty International and Global Giving - cited under the heading Human Rights. The following categories emerged:-
None of the above categories reveal a cogent link to HRI in Talent Management, except perhaps Category 9. Details of the pilot classification can be accessed by the following link:-
Preliminary Thoughts on HRI in Talent Management
In Scenario A the Industrial company sought to override the choice made by the specialist and the methods it used featured the following:-
In Scenario B, features i, ii & iii of Scenario A are present but an additional feature was employed, namely:-
iv. A psychological method of influence - e.g. to bring about a move an expertly applied covert 'stick' was arranged in one organisation to complement the overt 'carrot' of an improved offer from the external organisation.
In Scenario A the Company was acting in its own interests and there was no guarantee that the member of staff would benefit but in Scenario B the Group intended the Head of Department to benefit as well as itself.
In searching for human rights principles in talent management can the following be deduced from Scenarios A & B?
These are but preliminary notions derived from two simple scenarios. To explore HRI in more detail a series of Case Studies have been prepared, all based on actual experiences and reflecting in considerable measure the complexity of HRI in Talent Management and other Personnel & Development activities.