My company’s owners are HR nightmares! Should I stay or should I go? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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My company’s owners are HR nightmares! Should I stay or should I go?

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in The HR Specialist Forum

How do you handle two owners who still do business as if they are stuck in the 1950s? I am the HR director at a not-so-small, not-so-big company that has been a family business for over 100 years. The owners have no respect for HR. They play favorites, are extremely sexist and face EEOC discrimination complaints at least twice a year.

The employee handbook is the current flashpoint. The owners neither follow nor enforce the policies in it, and it needs a complete overhaul. I tell them constantly that if I am to protect them, we need a well-written and enforced handbook. They pay no attention at all. They look at me as if I am the bad guy.

I have been here only eight months. I spend lots of time putting out fires they personally start. I really feel I’m compromising my ethics by staying! What should I do?  In this economy I cannot look for another job. Do I just stick it out until it starts to turn around—and then leave?—RS, Midwest

See responses below

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Margaret Jacoby April 15, 2009 at 11:01 am

Dear RS:

Thanks for sharing your current situation. I am afraid that there are lots of HR Managers out there in the same boat. You are handling things correctly by telling the truth, getting legal support and bringing in outside influences. Thank you for maintaining your sense of integrity.

This, however, does not ease the pain I hear in your message about your personal feelings of being battered by the owners. Before I became a consultant over 10 years ago, I had a similar situation. Going home night after night feeling drained and bruised was taking a huge toll on my psyche, body and family. After 9 years in the position, I chose to leave. No job in hand, no plans – just the knowledge that I did all I could while I was there and it was now time for me to move on. It was one of the most difficult decisions I have had to face in my 30+ years in Human Resources.

No one can give you advice on whether to say or go. But, there are lots of companies looking to hire ethical people today. Even if you just get your resume polished up and start a search, you will feel better. Knowing that you are taking steps to honor your true self will lift a part of the burden you now carry.

I wish you well in this difficult journey.

Margaret Jacoby, President
HR Department on Call
HR Help Desk


RS, from Midwest April 14, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Sharon, thank you for your positive response. I tell everyone, tell the truth, do what is right and you will never be wrong! I use this as my own personal work ethic, not so easy at times, but I will not budge!

I have brought in outside influences, and you are right…the marvel at what they say; exactly what I just said months, weeks, days earlier. At least the company lawyer sides with me and we always seem to be on the same page. So, when I do have push, I get him to do it!

I just don’t know if I can take to my retirement this lack of respect?

Thanks again!


Sharron Blalock April 14, 2009 at 11:51 am

Dear RS:

I am a retired EEOC Supervisor and District Training Manager. I have dealt with owners as you described and worked with HR personnel during my career. I know have a consulting company and am working with employers to help them see the benefits of complying with the law–such as improved morale and better work performance.

Sounds as though you are doing what you should with little result.
Have you ever thought of bringing someone in from outside to conduct training for managers? In my experience, owners will sometimes listen to someone from outside–somewhat like our children.

Unfortunately, when owners are stubborn, it makes your job much more difficult. HR personnel have a tough time. Remember to do what you know is right under the law. You also have retaliation protection also.

Thanks for attempting to do the right thing.

Sharron Blalock
EEO Prevention or Penalty, LLC


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