This is a problem?

It was Kleiner Perkins that was on trial, though, so it was natural that the harshest revelations were about that firm. The trial revealed that the partnership didn’t have an internal human-resource department or clear policies around hiring and firing.


I can imagine an HR department being useful in a large firm. But the absence of one is a concern now?

18 thoughts on “This is a problem?”

  1. When did policies become “around” something or other? One syllable used to be enough – “on”. It saves tying four letters too, therefore also saving ink and paper. It’s GREEN, I tell you.

  2. The job of HR is to protect the business from the employees. So it should really be a concern to shareholders/partners if there isn’t one.

    Funny quote: “Despite the verdict, the case has done what it was meant to do: raise the issue”….. so the case was not meant to correct an injustice then? No wonder you lost.

  3. Ben,

    “The job of HR is to protect the business from the employees. So it should really be a concern to shareholders/partners if there isn’t one.”

    Not really. I’ve worked for lots of businesses without HR departments. In fact, the only places I’ve worked with HR departments are those with 1000+ employees. A couple of bosses interview you and hire you. Then they pass your payroll details to an outsourced agency that does the paperwork.

    Plus, HR mostly suits managing low-skilled staff. If you’re running McDonalds, you can use the same job ad for burger flippers a thousand times. You know what the rate for that job is. Doesn’t work for database administrators.

  4. What the Stigler says. When you have just 40 partners, all intelligent sensible people, you don’t need an internal HR department. You shoul however retain an external HR company for the basics, e.g. checking what the exact rules are regarding paternity leave, or whatever. In fact HR is one of the easiest departments to outsource.

  5. At the risk of sounding like Ian B, I sometimes wonder if HR departments exist mainly to employ thousands of women who otherwise could not attain a professional position. Almost all the people I’ve come across in HR have been women, most of whom have been utterly useless, and usually the token female director on a board will be HR.

    A couple of months back we were all invited to a town hall session at work where various senior directors could be asked questions about the latest cost cutting exercise, etc. There were five directors representing projects, operations, exploration, etc. plus a lady HR director. In 2 hours nobody asked her a single question, and so in order to justify her presence she spoke for 20 minutes anyway on subjects nobody had shown any interest in.

  6. Human Resources are not there to protect firms from employees – the name *implies* that they are there to exploit employees the way natural resources companies exploit natural resources.
    When I started work, we had a staff department whose job was to look after staff.

  7. At the risk of sounding like Tim Newman, the purpose of HR departments (as opposed to old personnel or, older, wages departments) is to put a bunch of women in place who other women can go to complain to. Every HR department is basically an SJW spearhead.

  8. There is an awful lot of law and regulation that requires that any company above a certain size must have an HR department.

    For instance, I worked for a small IT company that got absorbed by a larger one and the first, (of many), courses I was required to attend was one on how to sit at a PC and how to type at a keyboard.

    This was brought about by mad panic over people going blind or having neck problems or wrist problems by doing these simple tasks,

    The course was useless in preventing these putative injuries but it did satisfy the government, (and insurance company), requirements.

    And then there’s divirsity…

  9. Always a bad sign in any organisation when any non-financial corporate service (HR, IT, Legal) has a seat on the board or management team.

  10. Ah yes, the dreaded courses. Have had sitting courses, carrying courses, how to pick up a box courses – ideal for civil servants in an admin capacity.
    Then there was the 20 minute how to anwer the telephone course spread out over a whole day. Talk about bored – and was for existing staff who had answered thousands of calls.
    There are times training is appropriate there are times it is not appropriate.
    I just tend to get the inappropriate ones.

    Saying that, the only places I have worked that has had a HR department that I had access too was in the civil service and a tyre company big in the UK – whose HR department was 2 females. Had to use them as long term sick for a while, not my preferred choice…

  11. So Much for Subtlety

    Tim Newman – “At the risk of sounding like Ian B, I sometimes wonder if HR departments exist mainly to employ thousands of women who otherwise could not attain a professional position.”

    I think that sounds more like me. I don’t think they are utterly useless. They are important for covering the corporation’s backside in the event of a law suit. We get HR Departments because of the Disparate Impact ruling from the Supreme Court that banned IQ tests and the like. So the HR department exists to hire and fire people within the limits of the law.

    It is just another cost that the SJWs are imposing on society. If you calculated how much this costs and how poorer we all are as a result there would probably be rioting. Bring back the IQ test and fire the HR department. Along with making these sorts of absurd law suits impossible.

  12. They are important for covering the corporation’s backside in the event of a law suit.

    If only. Most I’ve come across seek to shit on the employees and implement whatever illegal shite the management demand, safe in the knowledge that they have deeper pockets than any potential plaintiff, and that they are prepared to lie themselves blind in the event of any lawsuit. Maybe my experience isn’t typical.

  13. So Much for Subtlety

    Tim Newman – “Maybe my experience isn’t typical.”

    Maybe it is not atypical either. I think most people would recognise some of what you say. At least.

    But I don’t think our views are mutually incompatible. I don’t think the HR department exists to stop management doing whatever they want. They are there to make sure the paper work is in order so they can defend themselves in Court when an employee sues.

    It is a drain on the economy. Everyone has to have an HR department if they are big enough to be sued. This case will have cost the company millions. All because they did not have the paperwork to show they ticked the right Diversity boxes. Who would have lost out if they had not won? Not the investors, at least not in the long run. Not the managers. It would have been the projects not funded. That is, the consumers. We all have lost a little because they have had to waste money on this case. But if Ms Pao won, we would have lost a lot more.

  14. So Much for Subtlety

    It gets worse. From the Department of Really Bad Ideas at the New York Times:

    What Silicon Valley Learned From the Kleiner Perkins Case , MARCH 27, 2015 Claire Cain Miller

    Kleiner Perkins’s victory Friday in the gender discrimination part of the lawsuit brought by Ellen Pao could be seen as an affirmation of the Silicon Valley old boys club. But venture capitalists said that the trial had already put the tech industry on notice: It can no longer operate as a band of outsiders, often oblivious to rules that govern the modern workplace — even if that has been a key to its success.

    Silicon Valley has always prided itself on doing business differently. Forget bureaucracy and the traditions of bigger, older companies, the thinking goes. Instead, wear jeans to work, bring your dog, don’t ask permission to try something new, and embrace failure. That nimble approach has helped create more world-changing ideas and wealth than any other industry in recent years.

    But it can have a flip side — a sometimes blatant disregard for the policies that apply to big businesses, whether it’s obeying regulations, paying taxes or treating employees fairly. The broad themes of the trial extended far beyond Silicon Valley’s casual workplaces.

    Just as Anita Hill once helped shine a light on overt sexual harassment, Ms. Pao, in suing Kleiner Perkins, may do the same for subtle sexism. The trial was riveting in part because many women could relate to the slights described on the witness stand, like men interrupting women in meetings or assuming they were too preoccupied for a big role because they had children. …

    Yet as heretical as it might sound in Silicon Valley, bureaucracy serves a purpose. Studies have found that women generally perform better in companies with more formal processes, and that women in science have better prospects for employment at start-ups that are more bureaucratic. …

    If tech companies want to remain a band of risk-taking, fast-moving outsiders, the biggest risk they could take might be hiring more women and then creating company cultures where they can succeed.

    I have said before that women for some reason tend to congregate in the failing parts of the economy. Can anyone work out from this article why that might be?

  15. The last time I worked for a company big enough to have an HR department, the HR manager for my division was a bloke and he was utterly, utterly useless. Mind you, as the first time I had met him, he insisted that my offer of employment was withdrawn and replaced with one £5k lower, I wasn’t pre-disposed to like him.

    Some five years of experience of the twit later, where his entire contribution to the running of my team was to send me entirely inappropriate but diverse CVs (and to insist that I wasted time interviewing these cretins) and then to insist that my team, most of whom had corporate awards for being pretty damn excellent, had to be graded on a bell curve, proved that first impressions are often entirely fine.

    And the courses – oh, God, especially the residential management courses … The only thing worse was some of the idiots that were sent on them.

    On the other hand, the bunch of tiger-eating harridans* I worked with who ran the various “sacking the useless bastards” teams were generally excellent. No time for bullshit. Knew what was winnable and what wasn’t. No sympathy for “diversity” – everybody was treated the same. Legally and fairly. With a P45.

    * This may be slightly unfair. I never actually saw any of them kill, butcher and cook a tiger. I’ve no doubt they could, though.

  16. @ SE
    The only residential management course that I was sent on was *worse* than any of the idiots sent on it. They scrapped it and replaced with a course run by someone else after the boss unexpectedly asked me for feedback and I gave an obviously censored but honest answer. [Some senior colleagues had had similar experiences but they had had too much sense to unnecessarily offend HR]

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