On Wednesday I stood for several hours in a queue on Trafalgar Square, London, in order to cast my vote in the South African elections (us overseas nationals get to do it a week in advance of our compatriots back home). The passion, dedication and persistence of people from around the world wanting to vote was very exciting.
I somehow don’t think we will see quite that level of enthusiasm in the UK elections on 22 May.
Perhaps for good reason – it is hard to get as excited when, whichever party wins, our day-to-day lives will largely feel unchanged. This latter point is no bad thing per se, it is the curse of a mature democracy.
However, this experience, plus another event this week, got me thinking about whether, as HR professionals, we get as involved in democracy as the process allows us too.
On Monday, I chaired a roundtable of leading benefits directors (all members of the Employee Benefits 100 Club) and the conversation turned to UK legislation that is either in place, or about to come into play, that HR can see will have unintended consequences for the workplace (and in particular, pensions, but other benefits are also affected).
When such legislation is proposed and consulted on, it is often the suppliers and consultants which are most vocal in lobbying MPs – perhaps their commercial interests mean they can vest more time in such endeavours.
Largely, HR are too busy to follow every twist and turn of legislation going through Parliament. However, I cannot help feeling that perhaps HR practitioners could play a bigger role.
It could be as simple writing or speaking to the local MP where your organisation is based to highlight a current or potential problem you are facing due to legislation. If you don’t speak up, who will?
If enough HR people say the same thing to enough MPs, perhaps we will see a re-examination of legislation.
Democracy is not just exercised on voting day, it is a privilege we all have access to every day.
Now, where shall we start?