Words: use of

Resource, resources, resourceful

Here I go again; another bit of high horsing.

Resource (noun). A source of support, supply, or aid. 1640-50; French ressource, Old French ressourse, noun derivative of resourdre to rise up. Latin resurgere, equivalent to re- re- + surgere to rise up, lift.

Resources, the collective wealth of a country or its means of producing wealth. Usually … money, or any property that can be converted into money; assets. Often … an available means afforded by the mind or one’s personal capabilities: an action or measure to which one may have recourse in an emergency; expedient. capability in dealing with a situation or in meeting difficulties:
Resourceful (adjective). Having the resources to deal with something; usually needs to be done quickly, efficiently and often under difficult circumstances.
Resourcefulness (adjective). Able to use deal skillfully and promptly with problems.

So far so good.

I learnt that the term human resources was coined in 1893 (who’da thought it?) but didn’t enter general parlance until 1958 where a Yale economist, E. Wight Bakke, used it.

The following is taken directly from Wikipedia (yeah, I know):

One major concern about considering people as assets or resources is that they will be commoditized, objectified and abused. Some analysis suggests that human beings are not “commodities” or “resources”, but are creative and social beings in a productive enterprise. 

Some HR departments should not—ever—be permitted to be anywhere near people. (Again, I speak from experience so please note my use of the adjective ‘some’ lest I upset folk.)

Human capital is another term which, in my opinion, does nothing to dignify any of us.

It seems I am not the only one who dislikes the term human resources. What was wrong with personnel?


Personnel (noun). Body of people in an organisation or place (of work).
1825-35; French, noun use of personnel (adj.) personal. Late Latin personale, neuter of personalis; replacing personal (noun), Anglicized form of French personnel; compare German Personal, variant of Personale, Italian personale.

And finally, products (it has nothing to do with the above)

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that I don’t much hold for banks, insurance companies, health insurance companies, financial institutions in general, having ‘products’. Products they are not—they are services (or policies) provided to us in exchange for our money. A product is something someone—anyone—produces: a jar of jam, a loaf of bread, a kilo of gold, ten kilos of rice, a tonne of steel, a bale of wool, a truckload of fruit or vegetables.

Bleat on, Margie. I doubt anyone in HR or on a bank board will heed you.

As an aside and something I found strange when I first arrived on the shores of this wide brown land was the terminology of ‘wool/beef/dairy producers and growers’. To me the sheep produced and grew the wool, the graziers/farmers/cow cockies harvested it. Farmers grow crops. I still don’t really get it, and have been here for, ooh, a long time now. In the scheme of things does it really matter? Not a whit.

Whereas those financial institutions keep on taking and we are still commodities.

Category(s): Business Writing, Creative writing
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to Words: use of

  1. This post scratched me deeply, as a pet peeve of mine is to consider any person as being a commodity. None of the large institutions even consider a person as being anything other than a unit of commerce. This is a form of slavery – we are something to be bought and sold for the price of our ability to produce wealth. If we don’t compute in the Gross National Product we aren’t worth anything. Grrrr!

    • Yes! It appears that I have touched a nerve here and there. Someone commented that they’d never considered ‘resources’ to be a derogatory term but now realises that we are just widgets.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *