In 2019 Buckingham Palace advertised a vacancy within the Privy Purse and Treasurer’s Office for that of HR Manager. The blurb claimed that “No two days will be the same and you’ll face complex challenges.”
I wonder if, at that stage, they could have imagined that they would have been catapulted into the public conscience following the recent bombshell interview of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with Oprah? Millions of people around the world tuned in to the interview and since then it has dominated newspaper headlines, news programmes and has cost Piers Morgan his job.
So, what about the role of HR practitioners here and what are the key issues that they need to focus on?
- Mental health and the role of the employer
One of the legacies of Covid-19 is most certainly going to be mental health. Employers have a ‘duty of care’ – AT ALL TIMES – which means they must do all that they reasonably can to support their employees’ health, safety and wellbeing. Acas have a very helpful framework which outlines how employers, managers and employees should share responsibility for positive mental health and wellbeing in the workplace available here. (I’m sure ITV, who partner with mental health charity Mind on the ‘Britain Get Talking’ campaign, have reflected on this shared responsibility, despite Piers Morgan’s comment that ‘freedom of speech is a hill I’m happy to die on.’)
- Diversity and Inclusion
Along with mental health, the main takeaway from the interview was alleged discrimination. Both Harry and Meghan were very clear about racism being at the root of this discrimination and the treatment they had been subjected to by “the Firm.”
A diverse and inclusive workforce is one where people’s differences are valued and one where everybody, no matter who they are and where they are from, is enabled and equipped to thrive at work.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) have published a report – ‘Diversity and inclusion at work: facing up to the business case’ which reviews the evidence on the touchpoints in the employee lifecycle that may contain barriers to equality. They state that “businesses should examine their own people management practices and diversity data to understand where barriers lie.”
- The role of management
The success of a company depends on the actions of its staff at every level – from CEO (e.g HM The Queen) to senior managers (e.g. Prince Charles and Prince William) – and employers have a duty to negate and/or investigate workplace conflicts and mediate and/or take action if necessary.
- Lessons for HR
A toxic workplace is devastating – not just for individuals but in some circumstances for the business as a whole. The wellbeing and happiness of your employees is critical to maintaining a healthy working environment, and whilst it may be challenging to confront a toxic work environment, getting this right and aligning your values and culture is essential, rewarding and worth the effort.
Get in touch
If you have further questions, would like to discuss any issues raised in this article, or if you would like our support with your policy stance or any specific situation related to staffing issues, discrimination or managing your workforce, our Employment Law and HR team would be delighted to hear from you.
Melanie Rowe (Senior Associate)
Paula Early (HR Adviser and Paralegal)