As I prepare for the 25th annual HR Symposium in Santa Clara, I am in wonder with what should be considered on the top 10 list of politically incorrect terms, yet survives common usage, namely HR. Human Resources.

For all the talk about ‘people’ being every company’s most important asset, the term HR seems very outdated. Or is it? We use acronyms for many things in business. CEO, CFO come to mind. But HR is used more as a term than an acronym. Seldom do people use the full Human Resources when referring to the department.

I say that continuing to call HR, HR is about like siblings that snigger, “you’re adopted, mom told me.”

There’s an implication in the term that HR really isn’t as important as HR is told. “Yes dear, we love you just as much as sales and marketing.” Well, if you have to say it…

So I continue to push for this concept. HR should be your own internal talent agency. It should be called “Talent”. Why not Vice President, Talent?

Calling it Human Resources makes people sound like a raw material, like scrap metal. People ought to be more valuable than a resource. They ought to be, if seen as a commodity, at the least your main ingredient.

And HR needs more than a token place at the table. Talent needs to be developed. Management needs to learn how to deal with talent. (That’s a big one) Management needs to learn how to foster and accept thinking from the talent pool instead of how to get their humans to complete tasks.

This 70’s mentality won’t change until we get away from the term, HR. And when we do get away from that term, it must be taken seriously. There’s much more than a term at stake.

Chris Reich