is how the diversity function is managed and staffed. According to Diversity Best Practices, www.diversitybestpractices.com, a service firm that researches and publishes data on how top companies are managing diversity, 19% of Fortune 1000 companies have separated the diversity function from the human resources function, with a chief diversity officer reporting to the CEO and managing a department of diversity specialists focused on supplier and vendor diversity, employee recruitment and retention, and even customer marketing diversity. Even when the function reports to the top human resources executive, it commands more staff and increased attention. Some see a conflict in this and predict a pendulum swing in the other direction.
“I think we’ve always made the mistake of confusing the issues of diversity and litigation avoidance,” says Johnny C. Taylor Jr., executive vice president as well as general counsel and secretary for Compass Group North America, a subsidiary of London-based Compass Group USA Inc., the largest food-service company in the world with 2003 revenues of $
13 billion. Taylor, who works in Charlotte, North Carolina, is responsible for all equal employment opportunity compliance and employee situations that become legal issues. A separate human resources executive handles all pre-litigation employee relations matters.
Compass Group USA Inc. employs over 400,000 people in 90 countries — 120,000 of them are in North America. Taylor sits on the board of directors for the Society for Human Resource Management — the largest human resources professional group in the world with 175,000 members. In January 2005, Taylor will step in as the elected chairperson of the society for a two-year term.
“Let’s be clear,” continues Taylor. “Some things we do because we do not want to find ourselves having to defend ourselves in the court of law or the court of public opinion. Employment litigation is changing the way we do things [in the field of human resources]. It’s tantamount to what happened in the medical profession. Malpractice suits changed the way medical professionals handled patients. We will see a new focus on compliance and litigation avoidance; any human resources person who does not see this has their head in the sand. The convergence of sophisticated and litigious plaintiffs and a [challenging] economy has created a need for well-trained human resources professionals.”
Pfizer’s Jackson echoes Taylor’s sentiment about inevitable shifts in the human resources role. “We’re engaged in what we call [human resources] transformation. Pfizer has a few hundred human resources people in the U.S., and they spend 40% of their time on administrative stuff. As our systems platforms are enhanced, they will need to transition to more organizational development and change management.”
Korn/Ferry’s Hessel sees increasing placement activity in all markets except Asia. Last year, Jackson spent time in Italy, Sweden, Spain, and Germany, and plans trips to Japan, India, Thailand, and Latin America as she ensures her vision for human resources at Pfizer also takes root overseas.