WIPO Human Resources: All Is Harmony, Secretariat Says 29/08/2016 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 3 Comments Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The World Intellectual Property Organization’s human resources issues have been far from harmonious over the past decade, but this year’s secretariat report paints a picture in glowing language of a new culture with happy, well-trained staff after years of “change management.” And to member governments concerned about remaining challenges? No problem, just leave that to us, WIPO says. The WIPO report on human resources, WO/PBC/25/INF/1, is on the agenda at the 29 August to 2 September meeting of the Program and Budget Committee (PBC). “The Human Resources Management Department (HRMD) has successfully traversed the greater part of the transition period through robust engagement with staff and management, bringing to life WIPO’s core values of service orientation, working as one and accountability for results – woven together through regular and transparent communication,” the report states. “As with any major change, the challenges have been numerous. Yet as the transition draws to a close and the reforms become solidly anchored, a re-orientation of organizational culture is clearly taking root, one which gives primacy to collaboration not conflict, inclusiveness rather than divisiveness, work initiative not complacent inertia, with productivity and business needs as benchmarks for rewards and entitlements.” A theme for the new era of WIPO human resources might be “positive and harmonious.” The report says, for instance, “A new category of award was established for staff members who significantly contributed to a positive and harmonious work environment.” WIPO has about 1,400 staff, of which more than 1,000 are regular staff, according to the report, which hails workforce productivity as up, and staff costs as a percent of the budget as decreasing. An interesting statistic is the percent of staff costs by sector. Four areas account for nearly 80 percent of the overall budget. The patents and technology sector consumes 36 percent, administration and management eats nearly 20 percent, and the brands and design sector takes 12.5 percent. And the director general’s office takes a separate 11 percent of the overall budget. Among the remainder, the development sector is credited with 6.3 percent of the budget, global infrastructure gets 5.5 percent, “culture and creative industries” 5 percent, global issues almost 3 percent, external offices (which get a disproportionate amount of member state attention) 1.1 percent. Staff dissension? A thing of the past, according to WIPO. Staff are being included and are at the center of everything. And (after a major upheaval, including the firing of the oppositionist Staff Council president in 2014 followed by staff protests outside the building), the report states: “Finally, staff are at the front, left, right and center in organizing elections for a WIPO Staff Council through which, for the first time, all staff members will have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote.” “In this suffrage,” adds the report, “HRMD plays a coordinating role to afford the necessary logistical support from the Administration.” “Challenges remain and will be tackled,” the report assures. In March 2016, the report says, a “guide to a respectful and harmonious workplace was published as a resource document for WIPO staff.” It is not clear whether the Staff Council, which has offered criticism in the past, will be providing a report this week or at the upcoming General Assemblies. Meanwhile, another section in the report lists “termination of appointments,” which are required to be reported to member states. The report says: “86. Pursuant to Staff Regulation 9.2(g), which requires the Director General to report to the WIPO Coordination Committee all cases of termination of appointments of staff, the following terminations between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016, are hereby reported: – one due to an abolition of post in accordance with Staff Regulation 9.2.(a)(1); – four for reasons of health in accordance with Staff Regulation 9.2.(a)(2); and – 11 in the interest of the good administration of the Organization and with the consent of the staff members themselves, in accordance with Staff Regulation 9.2(a)(5).” It is unclear what the reason was for the 11 terminations “in the interest of the organisation.” As to the everpresent challenge of geographical representation among the staff of the UN agency, WIPO says all responsibility for that “falls squarely” on member states, not the secretariat, but that it is more geographically diverse than ever (with 119 of its members represented, 69 members unrepresented). It is noted that in recent years, the number of professional staff coming from western Europe has dipped below 50 percent, and is steadily if incrementally declining. The breakout of the 532 regular staff at professional level and above is: Western Europe 49.6%, Asia and Pacific 14.5%, Africa 10.9%, North America 8.6%, Latin America and Caribbean 7.9%, Eastern and Central Europe and Central Asia 7.1%, and the Middle East at just 1.3%. France accounts for far and away the most staff for a single country. Gender balance also is continuing to rise, the report says. The report is particularly effusive when it comes to its efforts on training. “Effective management is necessarily preceded by effective managers who motivate and inspire colleagues towards achieving shared goals. Good managers are not necessarily born; they are made. More than ever, HR operates in partnership with management and all business operations.” And WIPO seems to be increasingly a place that people want to work, as applications for posts from all regions have risen considerably. And there will be some 88 new vacancies in the professional and director levels in the next five years due to retirements, the report said. (Currently the average age in WIPO is 50.2 years) The report’s own summary captures its view of the successes that have occurred in the organisation. “This annual report is replete with achievements and progress on various fronts – organizational culture, diversity and inclusion, talent acquisition, management and development, compensation and benefits, occupational health and safety, among others,” it crows. 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