Written by Theresa Jalowiec

We started off this last virtual session with a great ice breaker discussion on how we would handle a scenario where ethical issues were presented. We discussed the importance of fully investigating employee concerns, having consistent performance documentation, the separation of performance and benefit eligibility as it relates to PTO, FMLA, PFL, and education for Management and Executives on the risks involved with not handling an employee situation appropriately and without bias.

This was then followed by a presentation from Loretta Kuhland (MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, DTM, CCP, HR Consultant, Pinnacle Human Resources, LLC) on Ethics & Credibility.

A few main points of her presentation included:

  • An organization communicates and ensures its ethical standards through legal/regulatory compliance, through its mission-vision-values, through documented and published policies, and through new employee orientation and Manager training.
  • Some tips for managing pressures that compromise ethical practice include: Seek to understand each other’s perspectives as HR, Managers, and Executives have different worlds of responsibility and have different priorities. Work the process, meaning following procedure the company has in place such as the progressive disciplinary policy. Manage any impasse, which may be escalating to a Senior Manager or stepping back to take time to think and then getting back together.
  • Some tips for how HR can build creditability with Leadership in general include: Understand the other’s perspective and show interest in the other’s world. Show that you are the expert (do not “shoot from the hip”). Choice of words matter (use words such as “have you considered...”, “what about...”, “Maybe we could try...”). Do not take sides; have an open mind and be objective about the situation.
  • A parting quote Loretta shared: “Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do” (by U.S. Supreme Justice Potter Stewart).

Lastly, there was panel discussion on “Ethics, personal credibility & HR in non-profits/highly regulated industries”, which included panelists Loretta Kuhland, John Monteiro (Sr HR Consultant, Pinnacle Human Resources, LLC), and Alisa Hobb (PHR, SHRM-CP, Chief Human Resources Officer, The Arc of Rensselaer County). The panelists gave great advice on how to manage situations where we may be asked to do something in conflict with our personal and/or professional ethics. A multitude of questions were presented to the panel, for example “How do HR Leaders manage their own personal bias when making decisions?” Advice shared included: having an awareness of bias is important (affirm and recognize through a gut instinct or reaction), having a network of trusted people to lean on, stay objective by not reacting, and working through the policy/procedure in place.

This session wrapped up the 2020 CRHRA HR Leadership Program. While we encountered a couple bumps along the way; the program length was extended due to Covid-19 (originally expected to wrap up in May) and the sessions moved from in-person to fully virtual, the lessons learned and connections made overshadowed these challenges. Human resources professionals have always turned to each other for support, however having a network of support has never been more important than it is now. The more we continually educate ourselves and each other, the better we can support the organizations we serve. On behalf of the class of 2020, I would like to thank our CRHRA HR Leadership Program Facilitators Aileen Flach, and John Bagyi, for their dedication and commitment to the HR Profession!