That’s the question Marilyn Carlson Nelson posed to a group of HR professionals attending the HR in Hospitality® Conference & Expo in Las Vegas. As chair of Carlson, a global and travel hospitality company, and opening speaker, she compared HR’s daily activities or events to works of art where artists proudly sign their name on completed pieces or projects.
Nelson believes there’s never been a better time for HR to use its platform to clearly define, redefine or even debate its corporate culture and role in society. She said HR professionals don’t have work in the C-suite to be effective at retooling their business culture to improve the common good.
As examples, she pointed to employees at Mosaic, a fertilizer company, who help villagers in underdeveloped nations grow crops while IBM workers apply their technical skills to help city leaders make communities smarter and more effective. Even her own company is addressing a “dark” problem—child trafficking.
The idea is for HR to “step up, speak from the heart, and lead with courage and confidence” to shape its culture in positive ways to contribute to humanity.
That’s the key to competitive advantage, she said, explaining that Millenials want to make a difference and are drawn to companies with a strong social conscience.
“Use culture as a means to an end,” she said. “I’m convinced that kind of contribution will be well rewarded.”