Death by HR: Biased HR Degree Programs Create Biased HR Bureaucracies

Death by HR

Death by HR

So modern HR departments are risk-averse, feminized, and tend to know little about the technical requirements of jobs they are recruiting for while screening out candidates liberal arts majors don’t like. Perhaps the degree programs feeding industry new “HR professionals” are at fault? Let’s investigate…

Here’s a typical outline of what an HR degree program should include :

General Education and Business Courses

In the first and second years of the program… HR majors will usually need to take at least three credits of coursework in mathematics, statistics, English, writing, communications, history, political science, psychology, and social science… Since human resources professionals are given the responsibility of motivating employees, adhering to federal regulations, and developing successful workplaces, having sound business knowledge is a must. HR majors will likely have to complete introductory courses in business administration, finance, management, accounting, marketing, and business law.

Major Human Resources Coursework

… According to the SHRM curriculum guidebook, required content areas will include labor relations, employment law, ethics, globalization, job analysis, workplace diversity, organizational behavior, performance management, staffing, recruitment, strategic HR, compensation and benefits, training development, talent management, and workforce planning. In some cases, undergraduate programs will also deal with secondary content areas like career planning, human resource information systems, mergers and acquisitions, corporate social responsibility, outscoring, and workplace health….[1]

One clue is that HR degree programs necessarily train students in compliance with labor laws and government mandates on diversity and equal opportunity since a primary function of HR departments is to direct managers to avoid triggering punishments and lawsuits for violating those directives. But this means many HR program faculty come out of labor law and have picked up the tendency[2] of labor lawyers and economists to favor union and anti-free-market ideals.

Democratic and union-supported political machines further this bias by funding anti-business academic centers like the Labor Center at UC Berkeley[3]:

One of the ongoing stains on the integrity of the University of California system is its publicly funded labor institutes. They are union-controlled “think tanks” that are about engaging in left-wing political activism rather than balanced thinking. They churn out one-sided studies that provide fodder for union political objectives. Their most recent efforts gave cover to California’s decision to boost the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022….

Universities are rightly home to varying ideologies and research. But it’s wrong to publicly fund a think tank that engages in bald-faced advocacy for one particular group. … it’s really disturbing to suggest these think tanks provide “various ideas” about anything. They provide ideas with the union stamp of approval.

“Far from what should be expected from academia, the institute doesn’t even hint at a non-partisan agenda and regularly not only trains union organizers (presumably for political purposes) but also authors biased studies,” wrote the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association’s legislative director… Note the people behind this effort: labor leaders, community activists, a labor-allied former legislator, state labor lobbyists. Check out the advisory board at the UC Berkeley Labor Center. Virtually every member has a union affiliation. As Harper rightly notes, they are “partisan operations.”

State funding has been controversial, but the institute still receives direct public funding. It’s also dismaying seeing UC’s reputation sullied by such priorities. But the real problem is the nature of the research— and the effect it has on political debates across California.

“A new study found that a quarter of the region’s workforce would see a 20 percent pay bump if Santa Clara County upped the minimum hourly wage to $15 by 2019,” according to a report last week in a San Jose business publication. The county paid $100,000 to—you guessed it—a labor institute to provide such a rosy prediction. The study gave like-minded elected officials political cover.

I first came across the institutes in 2010 when the Berkeley institute produced a study suggesting that public-sector workers receive lower overall compensation than private-sector workers, despite their exceedingly generous pensions. I consulted experts and was astounded by its shortcomings. Take a look at the titles of institute studies. They drip with union bias.

California unions have myriad financial privileges. The state automatically deducts dues payments from public members. Workers must join the union to keep their jobs. Unions are the most powerful lobbies in Sacramento. If they want to produce research that backs their point of view, good for them. But why should taxpayers fund it? [4]

Labor law and economics departments and researchers are primarily funded by governments and labor unions that are biased toward increasing labor regulations, which in turn builds a larger empire for compliance staff — both in government and HR, where HR staffers act as their enforcement arm. This means academic HR training is also heavily biased toward regulation, and it’s rare for a new HR hire trained by such a program to wholeheartedly embrace the values of management for profit in a free market. It’s no surprise that people in charge of training others for a field believe their field is important and tend to want it to enlarge its scope of authority — which increases the status and power of those already high in its ranks.

But this means hiring a new HR staffer graduated from an HR degree program is more than likely hiring someone more committed to “social justice” than to your organization’s success, with an inherent conflict of interest — they will identify with the regulators more than the organization that pays their salary, and cooperate with likeminded careerists both in government and in your own organization to neglect goals of competitive efficiency. HR staffers will often support each other’s politicized progressive views and bias their decisions toward hiring mediocre employees they favor for cultural and diversity reasons while making life difficult for ornery but productive workers who don’t do as well sucking up to them. Management neglect — “it’s not important, it’s just HR” — lets HR progressives have a free hand, and they can slowly sink your company, then move on to the next with their credentials intact to repeat the process.

Not only do HR staff tend to have internalized progressive and labor values, they also have little subject area knowledge when screening potential hires, recommending people who don’t have deep understanding and screening out those who do using superficial degree and certification requirements.

This problem is quietly recognized in many companies, where candidates are theoretically brought to a hiring manager’s attention by HR after advertising and outreach, but where in practice hiring managers wisely ignore HR’s candidate lists to bring in people they have found themselves through industry contacts and their own more knowledgeable searches. If it were not for that, HR’s hiring screens would have crippled many corporations long ago, and this internal battle continues as HR responds to political pressure to reach diversity goals by trying to limit hiring managers’ ability to select the best hires. Resistance to these mandates continues as companies issue press releases on their success at improving diversity while pragmatic managers route around HR. A FEE article by Harrison Burge sums it up:

While HR employees may be equipped to attract talent, this is only one-half of their economic problem. The other half, the one in which HR is ill-equipped, is the process to secure (hire) these resources – specialized labor across a multitude of job functions – despite not understanding specific skills and relative importance of these skills to respective hiring managers.

In this respect, HR and their algorithms serve as central planning commissars, devoid of the feedback and knowledge needed to approve or disapprove candidate hiring for the company’s departments. As technical innovation and the development of required skillsets to fill these openings inevitably continues, the service provided by the traditional, centralized HR hiring department to their coworkers in specialized, technical departments may suffer.

The contrast between HR departments, whose foremost objective is compliance with government regulations and whose structure reflects the bureaucracy that they enshrine, and companies’ other lean, innovative departments could not be more stark. Government interventions in HR have the unintended consequences of burdening companies’ other departments, which operate not according to government dictates, but solely based upon profit and loss.[5]

These pressures increase the dead weight of bureaucracy inside the company while distracting management from the focus necessary for survival and competitive success. We would think it intolerable if saddled with a Chinese Communist Party political officer who made sure the party songs were sung and banners displayed in the office — but we see the wall of labor law disclosures and politically-driven slogans and decrees foisted on us by the Party of Government as normal. The cynical management view — that it’s just a cost of doing business, to be ignored and avoided — has allowed a gradual increase in these directives until they are seriously compromising productivity.

[1] “What are the Core Courses in a Bachelor’s in Human Resources Program?”, 2016.
[2] “Economists Aren’t As Nonpartisan As We Think,” FiveThirtyEight, Dec. 8, 2014. “…macroeconomists and financial economists are more right-leaning on average while labor economists tend to be left-leaning.”
[3] UC Berkeley Labor Center.
[4] “Funding Ideology, Not Research, at University of California ‘Labor Institutes’,” by Steven Greenhut,, May 6, 2016.
[5] “What Your HR Department Could Learn from Hayek,” by Harrison Burge. Foundation for Economic Education, August 22, 2016.

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.


More reading on other topics:

Death by HR: Pink Collar Ghettos, Publishing and HR
Death by HR: Who Staffs HR Departments? Mostly Women…
Death by HR: The Great Enrichment to the Great Slackening
Death by HR: Good-Enough Cogs vs Best Employees
Death by HR: EEOC Incompetence and the Coming Idiocracy
The Justice is Too Damn High! – Gawker, the High Cost of Litigation, and the Weapon Shops of Isher
Regulation Strangling Innovation: Planes, Trains, and Hyperloop
Captain America and Progressive Infantilization
The Great Progressive Stagnation vs. Dynamism
FDA Wants More Lung Cancer
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions
Jane Jacobs’ Monstrous Hybrids: Guardians vs Commerce
Death by HR: How Affirmative Action is Crippling America
Death by HR: The End of Merit in Civil Service
Death by HR: History and Practice of Affirmative Action and the EEOC
Civil Service: Woodrow Wilson’s Progressive Dream
Bootleggers and Baptists
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Justice Dept. Extortion
Corrupt Feedback Loops, Goldman Sachs: More Justice Dept. Extortion
Death by HR: The Birth and Evolution of the HR Department
Death by HR: The Simple Model of Project Labor
Levellers and Redistributionists: The Feudal Underpinnings of Socialism
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
Trump World: Looking Backward
Minimum Wage: The Parable of the Ladder
Selective Outrage
Culture Wars: Co-Existence Through Limited Government
Social Justice Warriors, Jihadists, and Neo-Nazis: Constructed Identities
Tuitions Inflated, Product Degraded, Student Debts Unsustainable
The Morality of Glamour

On Affirmative Action and Social Policy:

Affirmative Action: Chinese, Indian-Origin Citizens in Malaysia Oppressed
Affirmative Action: Caste Reservation in India
Diversity Hires: Pressure on High Tech<a
Title IX Totalitarianism is Gender-Neutral
Public Schools in Poor Districts: For Control Not Education
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
The Social Decay of Black Neighborhoods (And Yours!)
Child Welfare Ideas: Every Child Gets a Government Guardian!
“Income Inequality” Propaganda is Just Disguised Materialism

The greatest hits from (Science Fiction topics):

Fear is the Mindkiller
Mirror Neurons and Irene Gallo
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
Selective Outrage
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
“Tomorrowland”: Tragic Misfire
The Death of “Wired”: Hugo Awards Edition
Hugos, Sad Puppies 3, and Direct Knowledge
Selective Outrage and Angry Tribes
Men of Honor vs Victim Culture
SFF, Hugos, Curating the Best
“Why Aren’t There More Women Futurists?”
Science Fiction Fandom and SJW warfare

More reading on the military:

US Military: From No Standing Armies to Permanent Global Power
US Military: The Desegration Experience
The VA Scandals: Death by Bureaucracy


  1. I think you’re not far off the mark here; but the induced bias you discuss is recognized by quite a few HR managers as well as line managers. The 64 dollar question is what do about it. In the Fortune 500 company where I worked in HR we called it “antiquing the rookie”. Most made it; a few did not. However, my point is that it took consciousness of the problem and specific actions to overcome it.

    It is interesting to me that you mention the UCB Labor Center. I actually found their various papers useful in training staff about the unspoken (and unsound) assumptions contained therein, appeals to emotion rather than objective analysis, statistical legerdemain, etc. That and the reading of cases (particularly EO matters). Particularly with new staff, the request to “tell me how that (oil/gas/chemical) unit works (I found, by the way, that not a few engineers were stumped by those questions, and I found they were generally gone in a year or two).

    1. Good to hear an insider’s view. If you don’t mind, I’d like to quote a few of your pithiest phrases in the revised version… Unattributed to be safe.

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