The case against ‘human capital’ (Guest commentary)

Term 'dehumanizes' and 'demeans' work of HR professionals
By Diane Wiesenthal
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 02/11/2011

Last fall, I gave a presentation at the World HR Congress in Montreal where I asked my audience from around the world: “Who likes the term human capital?”

One-half the room liked it (sort of) and the others hated it. I’m with the hate it group. Ordinarily, I don’t subscribe to the word “hate” but it’s entirely justified here because of its detrimental influence on our profession.

Human capital is one of the most offensive terms in the HR language. You can’t put a price tag on people, like you would with a herd of cows, on a company asset sheet. But you can put a price tag on the work environment — and there is a profound difference, with enormous implications for the future of our profession.