The Ethical Case for Evidence-Based HR

Dr. Restner, a board-certified oncologist, specializes in the treatment of melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer. His go-to treatments include massive doses of castor oil, an alkaline diet, and something called electrohomeopathy.

“Just a moment. I’m reading Goop.”

If Dr. Restner were a real person, he would quickly be stripped of his medical license and sued into oblivion by the angry families of his dead patients.

We expect doctors to make treatment decisions based on the best possible evidence, and, because the stakes are so high, this is an ethical obligation. When doctors indulge in quackery, we don’t just call them bad doctors, we call them bad people.

HR leaders aren’t doctors, but they do make decisions that effect the lives of their employees, their employees’ families, the company’s investors, and other stakeholders. Those decisions have the potential to cause great harm. So why is it okay for them to make decisions based on TED Talks, articles in pop business magazines, and the “advice” of self-interested consultants?