#NZLEAD PREVIEW: Disabled HR Professionals = An Enabled Human Resources Profession

Anne T

This week we’re turning the equality spotlight onto HR and ask: “What has the profession done to encourage disabled people to sign up?” Yes, we know we’re great at encouraging disabled people to apply for posts within your organisation – but what’s our track record of enticing them into HR itself?

The discussion is going to be based on the blog published earlier this month – see http://annetynan.wordpress.com/. As you will see when you read it, Anne went looking on the internet for information about disabled people working as HR professionals. The topic has interested her for a long time so when David D’Souza roped her in to his ambitious Book of Blogs project, it was an obvious choice.

If you can’t be bothered to read the blog, the executive summary is:

There appears to be little or no publicly available information about the issue of disabled people working as HR professionals. This means no research, no recorded experiences or case studies, no career advice, no targeted information for applicants and candidates. The results that did come up when you type ‘disabled HR professionals’ into Google invariably highlighted a division, with ‘disabled people’ on one side and ‘HR professionals’ on the other – i.e. it’s a ‘them and us’ scenario. HR has clearly done a great job helping other professions to open up to disabled people but it is now time for it to look to itself to do the same

Why is this topical for #NZLEAD?

Currently underway in New Zealand is the 2013 Disability Survey, with the results due next year. The previous survey (2006) is awash with data and “describes the types of industries and occupations that disabled people are employed in and compares them with those of non-disabled people.”

Look 2013 Disability Survey

Occupations are broken down into 9 major groups so the data is unrefined but the 2 groups most relevant to HR are: ‘Professionals’ – 8% disabled ‘Clerks’ – 9% disabled

What about HR?

Do we know how many disabled people work in the profession? Do we have any inkling of the impact that they have on its workings? Do we understand how they contribute to the image of Human Resources as perceived by other employees?

Questions for #NZLEAD

1. What is your experience of disabled people working in HR?

2. What are the benefits of knowing the numbers and characteristics of disabled people who work in HR and their impact on others?

3. Do you think that employees find HR more approachable if they can see that disabled people are well-integrated into the department?

4. What could/should organisations such as HRINZ and CIPD do to encourage disabled people to consider a career in HR?

Get in contact with Anne via @AnneTynan or look her up on LinkedIn or her website https://sites.google.com/site/tynanequality/



I was trying to summarise the key points of the #HRINZCONF, as shared by those attendees who participate in #NZLEAD, but there were really not many attendees at this conference on twitter. Awesome work to those who were though!

Although social media is a new concept in New Zealand HR, this response and missed opportunity was disappointing. There is definitely a place to use technology to:

  • interact with the community with broader communication techniques;
  • meet demands for interactive participation;
  • promote future conferences;
  • get greater exposure to the international HR community and other interest groups;
  • be an innovator; and
  • get greater visibility.

As a tool for connecting people and communicating, social media is certainly growing and the benefits of it are clear to those who are actively involved. The challenge is to get more HR professionals on board to collectively strengthen our approach to HR.

The prerogative of  HR in the coming years is to align to organisational capability and strategy, look at what is happening outside and adjust. We want to make sure the boat is going faster but how are we making sure the boat is going in the right direction?There are opportunities to keep discussing this and look at how the HR profession as a whole is contributing to this conversation.

There is a role of social media in this. But it’s not just about getting in there and broadcasting it’s about looking at what is going on outside our four walls and actively participating. Isn’t that what HR is also trying to do within their businesses?

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” William A. Ward