Human resources departments in corporations serve an important role in acting as a liaison between employees and management, a service often needed as companies grow too large to manage the needs of their employees effectively. However, there has been many cases of HR departments becoming more "woke," raising questions about their effectiveness in fulfilling the requirements of both the firm and its employees and whether they truly have everybody's best interest in mind. The word "woke" refers to becoming more overtly conscious of social and political concerns, especially those concerning race, gender, and sexuality. While it is essential for companies to be aware of and address these issues consistently and fairly, there are countless claims that HR departments have grown too focused on these sometimes controversial issues, adding to the fire that is employee distrust and fighting.
In the financial sector, for example, strict diversity and inclusion regulations have been introduced to give equal opportunities to all types of people after a long run of being reserved for one archetype of person. While these regulations are intended to foster a more inclusive and equal workplace where it should be based on merit, some employees have reported feeling uneasy or discriminated against as a result, going in the opposite direction from the very thing that these initiatives were seeking to solve. Because of the emphasis on these issues, some employees believe that human resource divisions within companies are ignoring other key variables, such as job performance, productivity, and general satisfaction, and focusing too deeply on the latest "hot button" issue.
Similarly, employees at many of the most popular software companies in the world have claimed their HR departments have become too excessively focused on supporting specific political agendas rather than addressing the requirements of the company and its employees, and rather, pushing either their own political views or the views of the leadership team (which, if that is the company’s passion, they should do as they wish, however, many employees report feeling “bait-and-switched,” working at a business that was once caring and receptive and now turned near-discriminatory. As a result, employees have felt uncomfortable and intimidated because they hold opposing political beliefs, and are afraid to share an opinion different from the majority of their coworkers.
Yet, these issues are not localized to the banking and software industries, this tendency affects venture capital and private equity firms as well, albeit less commonly due to investment firms having a lower employee count, and often opting out of having an HR team altogether. When an HR department supports a "woke" agenda, these ultra-high-pressure workplaces can become even more uncomfortable for all parties, and can breed distrust among employees, who may feel that instead of supporting and advocating for the rights of the physical and mental health of the employees, there are motives not aligned with each staff member (which can also be argued that not all employees will be in agreement with any department, especially one trying to “change” the way a company has always operated, however, every individual and every enterprise has a line to draw in the sand, and both sides must figure out where they draw it.
It's worth noting that not all human resources departments have gone too far in supporting a "woke" agenda, as every company and ever staff member have different approaches, and oftentimes we see policies of companies go viral because they are so far from the norm, creating a bias against all of the companies that have HR departments that are operating in perfect harmony with all parties involved. However, there is growing concern that this trend is producing hostility and fearfulness in the workplace, which can have a drastic influence on productivity and the entire vibe of the workplace, which then translates to the public perception because it is reflected from the employees, and ultimately, the financial success and survival of the company in question.
As a result, HR departments must strike a fair balance between addressing crucial social and political concerns (impartially) and meeting the demands of the firm and its employees (its original duty), being neutral in all matters of disagreement, and advocating for the rights of all team members so a positive environment can be fostered. This can be accomplished by proactively soliciting employee feedback (oftentimes this must be done anonymously so there is no question about honesty), being open to policy changes, respecting all views and backgrounds, and being honest and fair in their operations, both internally and externally. Furthermore, HR departments must educate themselves and their staff on social and political concerns, as well as constantly update their policies and practices to ensure they remain relevant, since it is the duty of every citizen to be in touch with the issues of their country. However, within the vast majority of companies, these issues have no place in the working environment.
To conclude, while it is important for companies to address social and political issues and be impartial in their policies, it is also key for HR departments to consider the needs of the firm and its employees, where all teams and experience levels feel advocated for and are not afraid of speaking out when they disagree with something, or don't believe in the actions taking place within a company. Finding the correct balance between these two elements is critical for creating a healthy work atmosphere and maintaining the company's success, both internally and externally, financially and culturally. HR departments may cultivate a more inclusive and equitable work environment without producing conflict and rifts between coworkers, eventually helping the company's profitability, ability to attract new talent, and long-term success by being thoughtful, adaptable, transparent, and responsive.