Improve profits through people

Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt urges businesses to unlock the potential of their most valuable asset - the people who work for them

. Mark Fletcher reports Ms Hewitt has announced the membership of a new task force, 'Accounting for People' headed by Denise Kingsmill CBE, Deputy Chairman of the Competition Commission. The new body brings together leading experts from business, academia and trade unions to advise on how organisations can focus on people as a key to business success. It will create new best practice guidance for organisations on how they can relate people management to profits in their annual reports. Ms Hewitt said: "In today's fiercely competitive and knowledge driven economy, business success depends on attracting the best qualified people, equipping them with the best skills and then keeping them. Accounting for People will share the best ideas for companies to make the most of their people's talents, which in turn will boost profits" Denise Kingsmill, the newly appointed chair of the group, said: "Unlocking human assets is one of the keys to higher competitiveness. There is increasing research evidence that good people management gives companies an edge when it comes to profitability. We want to get away from simply paying lip service to the idea of 'people being our finest asset' or simply accounting for people as a cost. "At the heart of this project is the desire to provide solid performance benchmarks for stakeholders, particularly investors. Our task is to show how this information can be presented meaningfully, in Annual Reports." The group has been set up in response to one of the recommendations in the Kingsmill Review on Women's Equality and Pay, which found that very few companies report meaningfully on human capital to their stakeholders, notwithstanding the strong link with company profitability. The Task Force will include a core team of senior business, trade union, academic and accounting industry figures. MF