Having been a People and Development Director for the past 18 years, I’ve always been a wee bit uncomfortable with the term Human Resources. Ironic, as my Masters degree is in Human Resource Management; and, my current role is Head of Global Human Resources for an international NGO.
My unease is probably because the term comes from corporate America, and with it, the connotation that people are market commodities, valuable only in the context of commerce. I guess this is inevitable when when peoples’ worth are seen through the lens of a capitalist system – where human relationships are formed as a consequence of the economic transaction between shareholders, entrepreneurs, employees and customers.
I would rather like to look at human worth and value through other lenses! This, however, is difficult when the globalisation of capitalism seems like the only game in town. Acknowledging this, a colleague of mine from Zambia recently introduced himself to me as a “reluctant capitalist”.
To my delight, my boss has agreed that I can change the name of my team. I’m thinking of asking my colleagues what they think about re-framing ourselves the Human Resourcefulness Team. This will give us an opportunity to discuss why we do what we do!
I love the following prayer by Nick Fawcett, because it captures my vision of what the role of Personnel Departments should be, particularly in Christian organisations.
You call us to support one another,
to offer comfort in times of need,
reassurance in times of fear,
inspiration in times of challenge,
and confidence in times of doubt.
Forgive us for so easily doing the opposite –
criticising and condemning.
Forgive us for seeing the worst instead of the best in people,
for believing the bad instead of the good,
for so often pulling down and so rarely building up.
Teach us to recognise people’s gifts and nutre them;
to understand their problems and share them,
to acknowledge their successes and applaude them,
to appreciate their efforts and affirm them.
Teach us, through the faith we show in people,
to help them attempt great things and expect great things;
to olok at life, seeing not the obstacles but the opportunties,
not the things they can’t do but they things they can.
So may we help them in Christ to discover their gifts,
recognise their true worth and fulfil their potential,
through His grace
Nick Fawcett, 2003, Selected Prayers for public worship, ISBN 978 84417 070 8