Communicator of the Month: Martha Lane Fox - championing digital in HR

I’m excited to be writing the first of our new series of blogs looking at how business leaders are highlighting the importance of our favourite topic here at Yapster - effective communication! Congratulations, then, to (Baroness) Martha Lane Fox, our inaugural ‘Communicator of the Month’.

She could have been recognised for her role as a board member of Twitter or everything she has done for digital inclusion, most recently through her doteveryone initiative. Instead I’m going to focus on her recent keynote speech at the CIPD Annual Conference. It was a wide-ranging speech, but three key messages stood out for me:

1. Tech can make a difference today

Faced with the day-to-day demands of the job at hand, it’s easy to postpone change. Doing things differently, or trying a new app, quickly end up on tomorrow’s ‘to do’ list. Lane Fox argues this is counterproductive: “Tomorrow you could make your working life more productive, and probably more fun, if you just used the tools available right now”. We often find ourselves talking about ‘the future’ of the industry when much of it is actually already here, waiting for someone to seize the initiative.

2. Curiosity didn’t kill the cat after all

We mustn’t be afraid to experiment or ask the difficult questions. Lane Fox sees ‘digital understanding’ as a process of discovery and learning - it’s not about becoming an expert in coding or a social media guru, but thinking strategically about the impact tech trends are going to have on the workforce. The high profile legal disputes around workers’ rights in the gig economy are a reminder of what can happen if we fail to account for disruption.

3. HR should be an entrepreneurial function

Today’s economy is built on ideas, and given we’re seeing increasing automation of many work functions that’s a good thing. AI is still a long way from replacing human creativity. What this means is that HRs are responsible for the company’s most valuable asset - its people. Logically, then, it makes no sense for HR to be a purely reactive function, tending to the needs of other departments. All HR leaders should see themselves as entrepreneurs, looking to create as much value for their organisations as possible by setting the agenda and taking calculated risks.

“You have to be bold and bring people with you when they are not sure what the future might look like” - Lane Fox is certainly practicing what she preaches here, another reason why she thoroughly deserves to be Communicator of the Month for November!

Nominations are open, if there’s someone you think should feature in a future blog let me know!


Yapster Admin