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People to the fore

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CORPORATE SUCCESS THROUGH PEOPLE: Nikolai Rogovsky and Emily Sims; pub. in India by Academic Foundation, New Delhi under arrangement with International Labour Office, Geneva. Rs. 495.
CORPORATE SUCCESS THROUGH PEOPLE: Nikolai Rogovsky and Emily Sims; pub. in India by Academic Foundation, New Delhi under arrangement with International Labour Office, Geneva. Rs. 495.

M.S.S.VARADAN

As is customary with International Labour Organisation's (ILO) publications this also bears the stamp of clarity of presentation combined with direct appeal. The main message of the book is that an employer who is good to his people can also succeed in business. This becomes crucial in winning 'the war for talent' by companies which is very intense these days. The book promotes the idea that ILO's International Labour Standards (ILS) are tools for good managerial practice and corporate citizenship.The virtue of people-centred policies is illustrated by cases such as the software firm SAS Institute in the U.S., where half of the managers are women and a good work-family environment pays off. Cases are presented of the textile firm Bantai in Bangaladesh, which is highly community welfare oriented and the well-known sports goods firm Adidas, which emphasises on compliance with labours standards wherever they operate in the globe.

Labour standards

Attracting high quality workers is necessary for business success. Provision of equal opportunity and non-discriminatory recruitment policy helps in this process. The Deloitte and Touche's initiatives for the retention and advancement of women also merit attention. The ILO's efforts in setting standards for working conditions, occupational health and labour relations are already well-known and finds place in the book through several case illustrations. The steps that South African companies are taking in setting up AIDS prevention programme have been outlined.

Child labour

As expected, the chapter on human resource development abounds with a number of illustrations from a variety of industries. One that differs from the rest is AES Corporation, a power generation company operating more than 100 plants in 19 countries. It is a radically decentralised firm with people-oriented values, which are translated into management practices. The chapter on layoffs and downsizing is well written, of the way in which this sensitive issue has to be handled while conceding it as a business necessity at times. The story of the 'metaphor' of the 'surviving children' brought out as a box item is a moving one and illustrates the human dimensions involved in a telling manner. The chapter on child labour, among others, gives the interesting case of Pranda Jewellery in Thailand. Unlike the widespread practice of hiring workers from the age of 12 years, Pranda starts young rural poor at the age of 15, the legal working age in Thailand and gives them a long and rewarding process of training before absorbing them. At the end of each chapter, the relevant ILO standards and the approach recommended have been outlined, and effectively linked to the cases cited earlier in that chapter. This is a very commendable feature of the book, enhancing its value. The main conclusion of the book is that decent treatment of workers pays off in the long run, and facts and figures have been provided giving the correlation between business success and the human factor, driving home the message that after all "business is people." Cases like Tata Steel, which made this their motto, could have found mention. On the whole, the book should be of much use to practitioners and academics alike in management of human resources.


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