If there’s an overused marketing trope in my industry, it’s the notion of HR heroes.
Have you noticed the campaigns and advertisements? Companies celebrate human resources professionals who swoop in and save the day when you need something at work.
Here’s the thing about HR heroes: They’re not heroes. HR professionals don’t leap tall buildings in a single bound. They tell their workers to stop leaping because it violates the employee handbook.
So what makes a hero? In the real world, heroes are active. They get involved. They become political. They fight for social justice and equal pay. The place themselves in precarious situations on behalf of others.
HR doesn’t do any of that, which is fine. Nobody is asking your friendly neighborhood staffing specialist to file a brief with the Supreme Court. At best, HR facilitates discussions on important issues. At the other end of the spectrum, they enforce rules that are unfair and hurtful to certain members of society.
Yes, there’s a lot of good work being done in HR. There’s also work to be done.
That’s why I’d like to suggest that we take the hero-worshipping down a notch.
I’m all for celebrating everyday heroes, but wearing a cape and fighting bad guys — while participating in an economy with stagnant wages, systemic inequality, and low employee engagement rates — isn’t something to brag about.
Don’t be an HR hero. Strive to be a great HR professional. That’s a good place to start.