Canadian HR Reporter

November 30, 2015

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

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CANADIAN HR REPORTER November 30, 2015 2 NEWS Recent stories posted on Check the website daily for quick news hits from across Canada and around the world. WEB O N T H E ACROSS CANADA Trudeau pushes youth, economic growth in debut at G20 summit Youth employment key for strong economy: PM Toronto to host first Americas leg of Mines and Money conference Hopes to showcase Ontario's competitive business climate Aimia laying off more than 200 people Part of $20-million cost-reduction plan announced in August Growing number of recent university grads overqualified for jobs: Study But rate drops for college grads 84 per cent of workers believe employers responsible for supporting their health: Survey Physical, psychological health considered Coal industry hoping for rebound despite global demand drop Companies laying off workers, closing mines AROUND THE WORLD As Boeing booms, robots rise and job growth lags Company is churning out production, but with one-third fewer workers Air France fires 4 workers over boss-bashing incident Violence erupted at meeting last month, forcing managers to flee U.S. jobless claims unchanged last week Claims have held below 300,000 threshold for 36 consecutive weeks U.K. jobless rate falls, but wages rise more slowly than forecast Unemployment rate dipped to 5.3 per cent in third quarter Volkswagen moves to appease angry customers, workers Financial impact of scandal has exacerbated tensions between VW management, labour leaders 2015 National HR Awards - Technology Innovation Award: Loblaw A profile of Loblaw, winner of the 2015 National HR Award for Technology Innovation. For more information, visit FEATURED VIDEO What's HR's role in ethical business culture? Volkswagen's woes highlight need for ethical culture, leadership BY LIZ BERNIER VOLKSWAGEN made head- lines recently for less-than-sa- voury business practices — with the Wolfsburg, Germany-based automaker revealing it had inten- tionally programmed its vehicles to give false results on emission control tests — but it wasn't the first and certainly won't be the last incident of unethical business behaviour. So is it up to HR to be the busi- ness ethics police? Some would argue against the idea but as the HR profession takes on an in- creasingly strategic role, some experts feel ethics, and an ethical culture, are at the heart of HR. Continual process Creating an ethical workplace is a process and not one that ends once the code of conduct or values statement is written and passed out, said Jim Ridler, assistant professor at the Smith School of Business at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont. "I look at the subject of how do you create an ethical workplace culture in three stages: the first being developing, the starting off; the second being once you've done that, continuing and maintaining, because there's an operating activ- ity, not just an activating activity; and then (thirdly), enhancing," he said. "Because whether it's safety or ethics or whatever, you never leave anything as it is — you con- tinue to try to enhance it. So that's how I look at it, it's three stages." Depending on the organiza- tion's circumstances, HR's role can start at the very beginning — helping senior management develop the company vision, mis- sion and core values, said Ridler, who worked as an ethics advisor for Imperial Oil. "Part of the way I think HR could support that activity — which I think has to be done at the senior management level, and I mean the president and CEO — is by surveying the employees anonymously to get a sense of how they feel about the current situa- tion," he said. "It's one thing to have manage- ment saying what they feel it is; it's another thing to go out and survey the various levels and functions of the employees. And I think that's an appropriate role for HR." Once those fundamentals are in place, HR plays a really pivotal role in a couple of different ways, said Chris MacDonald, director of the Jim Pattison ethical leadership education and research program at Ryerson University in Toronto. "Maybe the most obvious thing is — and this of course depends on the size of the company — but HR is very often the home of some of the core ethics policies and documents. "So, in many companies, HR is where the code of ethics and the code of conduct resides, and HR is maybe the home of things like a conflict-of-interest policy or those kinds of policies. So that means that HR plays a key role in deter- mining the content of those poli- cies, but it also means that HR has a key role to play in the approach that's taken to setting policies, to training on policies, and to getting buy-in," he said. For example, if an HR depart- ment is asked to devise or revise a code of conduct, there are two fundamental approaches to take, said MacDonald. "One is that you can pretty much buy a code of conduct off the rack," he said, adding the other — probably better — option is to craft it in-house. "(at way), this is going to be our code of conduct, and it isn't going to be handed down from head office or the C-suite, it's go- ing to be something we're going to build together. But, of course, there are practical limits to that in terms of the number of employ- ees and what do you do about new employees, said MacDonald. "The other big distinction is between what we tend to refer to as a 'values-based' approach or a compliance approach. And so a compliance approach says, 'Here are the rules and we're going to write as many rules as possible to cover every possible contingency," said MacDonald. "e other approach, which re- ally is the best practice, is to adopt some version of what's known as a values-based approach, which is to say, 'Of course, we're going to have some rules — we need to write down appropriate proce- dures for dealing with things like conflict of interest — but really what we ought to do is to make clear that in our workplace, we ad- here to a certain set of values. And when in doubt, think in terms of those values. When policies are unclear or need interpretation, you interpret them in terms of those values.'" Of course, it's going to be differ- ent in different companies, so it's hard to generalize, he said. "But a lot of that gets handled through HR, so HR really has the opportunity to set the tone in the way it handles that policy function." Another key consideration for HR is having some sort of person- nel resource devoted to ethics, said Ridler. That could be handled in a number of different ways, de- pending on the organization's specific needs. "Sometimes, it's an ethics ad- visor, sometimes it's an ethics officer, sometimes — more in the (United) States — it's called a compliance officer. And that somebody or some staff… would take what management has done and from that develop and review an ethics code incorporating those core values," he said. "HR would have a role in rec- ommending where these ethics people are positioned in the orga- nization… and I would strongly suggest that at least the most senior of the ethics people be at a high level. And, in particular, wherever they're placed in the or- ganization, that they have what I refer to as a dotted line to the top — the CEO or president." Shaping culture Human resources can also have a central role in shaping an ethical culture within an organization, said MacDonald. "The role of HR in building the kind of culture that sets the right kind of ethical tone, I think, "HR would have a role in recommending where these ethics people are positioned... and they have a dotted line to the top — the CEO or president." BRING > pg. 3

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