Updated: Mar 9, 2021
The Black In HR (TM)'s weekly column with Ayesha J. Whyte, JD, SPHR is an opportunity for our readers to ask questions important to them to a skilled and experienced HR executive and attorney. Ayesha is a strategic human resources leader and seasoned attorney who has served in leadership roles at The Walt Disney Company, Amtrak and WeWork. This week, Ayesha provides guidance and answers questions important to our readers on the future of DE&I, remote work and continued education.
Question: What is your opinion of the flood of D&I roles in the current job market and the long term vision for the people stepping up to fill those openings?
Ayesha: I love that Diversity & Inclusion is being highlighted as a needed function in the workplace. However, I do not believe in elevating those who have no diversity, inclusion, and equity experience to the role of Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer. An organization would not hire/promote someone without a finance background into a Chief Financial Officer position or someone without a marketing, communication or public relations background into a Chief Marketing Officer role because there is subject matter expertise required. D&I too is a subject matter which requires expertise to lead the function and provide sound advice/guidance to the organization.
Companies show their true commitment to diversity and embracing inclusion/belonging by the who they hire, how much they invest in growing a diversity department and how much they spend exclusively with diverse vendors. Unfortunately, many of the companies that rushed to have a Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer will not have the function in two years because it was a publicity stunt and not a true commitment to growth and change.
Question: Has HR fully transitioned to a virtual format, or will we find ourselves reverting back to traditional HR practices after COVID-19?
Ayesha: Great question. Honestly, it depends on the industry. Those that work in more innovative environments and industries (tech/pharmaceuticals/media) will likely continue to work primarily remote and that includes HR. However, other industries that have essential workers and those that go to work on a daily basis (retail/production/manufacturing/hotels), will likely expect HR to return to an office or onsite location to support employees once it is safe to do so.
Question: Master in law or JD law, which degree makes more sense for an established HR professional?
Ayesha: I would not suggest a Juris Doctorate (JD) to anyone that does not plan to practice law. It is an arduous three years of study followed by one or more bar exams (which are on average 2 full days at 8 hours each day). Law school is very expensive and while the knowledge gained is invaluable, the monetary value is really reaped when you practice law and earn the income that usually comes along with that.
I am not as very familiar with a Masters in Law, as it is relatively new. But from what I know, it is a degree that focuses on teaching law that is practical and usable for professionals, particularly in HR. So if you are looking to become more knowledgeable in the subject matter of law (employment, contracts, etc.), I believe the Master in Law is for you.
From Ayesha: Advice & opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.