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When I witness the unsettling headlines about companies in turmoil, my mind invariably echoes the same question: Where was Human Resources? Human Resources holds a pivotal role within any organization, ideally providing a panoramic perspective to management and highlighting oversights. It’s not uncommon for management to inadvertently overlook key stakeholders and ramifications amidst decision-making processes. Have you ever found yourself in a meeting where unanimous agreement prevails, yet you’re left pondering ethical boundaries?

The spectrum of unethical practices is distressingly broad, encompassing intentional financial mismanagement, environmental harm, employee mistreatment, substandard working conditions, corporate espionage, harassment, and discrimination. These issues inundate the daily news cycle, prompting me to reiterate: Where is HR in all of this?

Taking a principled stance requires courage. Can we reconcile with ourselves if we choose silence over dissent? A recent meme succinctly asserted: “HR isn’t your friend.” Indeed, our role extends beyond placation; we have a duty of care to cultivate a safe workplace environment. Upholding legal and regulatory compliance rests squarely on our shoulders. We must be the conscience that redirects errant trajectories towards ethical governance. Encouraging others to voice concerns and fostering a culture of accountability lies at the heart of our mission. Can we rise to this challenge? Can you? It’s not just a matter of choice; it’s a necessity. 

– Suzanne Lemen, SPHR, SHRM-SCP


Register now for our Ethics webinar on May 7, 2024.