Sunday, 1 May 2011

More people focused language: equality


  As well as love, I’d already posted on my other blog about equality (another of Gary Hamel’s examples of a more people focused language).

Actually, the post was mainly about John Lewis, and the British royal wedding last week – no, not the shop’s chintzy plates, but the link between co-ownership and republicanism.  But equality was the fundamental point behind these things.

I think equality is another really important word / concept in organisations, and central to both love and trust.  I commented on social slights in my recent HR 2.0 webinar and linked this to the problems of high pay differentials and exclusive talent management models (it was interesting to listen to the streaming of Bersin’s Impact conference focusing on HR in a more borderless and social world last week and hear a presenter talk about pivotal talent as if nothing had changed – and I’m not sure how much it has – but I don’t think we should accept the continuance of pivotal individuals without some deep questioning).


I’d better first explain a bit more about what I mean.  Equality has been defined in many different ways in different times and situations, but probably the main two definitions are equality of treatment (which I’d suggest is a very ‘personnel’ oriented definition) and equality of outcome (which is more ‘human resource’ oriented – extending the market economy from outside business into the organisation too).

Well I don’t mean either of these.  To me, the most important aspect of equality is equality of relationship.  Simply about people treating each other fairly and appropriately.  As someone of equal worth.  (Which is why I see the UK’s monarchy as fundamentally unequal).


I did some work on equality (not that we called it that) when I was an HRD at Ernst & Young.  We implemented a number of changes to reduce the focus on grading and increase that on people, or at least on roles, to get teams working more effectively.

More recently I’ve worked with one organisation to combine SNA data which Josh Letourneau talked so powerfully about at HRevolution) with performance competency date to help demonstrate to managers the power of behaving in a more equal way.


Actually, equality is another reason why I think HRevolution worked so well, and why I expect similarly great things from ConnectingHR’s second unconference on Thursday.  You take hierarchy and inequality out of the way – and people just get on with being people – and love, trust – and performance – result.


More on the language of people:



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