Secretaries Day Is Celebrated but Sparks HR Controversy

Article excerpt

WORKPLACES ACROSS THE NATION CELEBRATED "PROFESsional Secretaries Day" this year on April 22. According to research by Kansas City, Missouri-based Hallmark Cards Inc., there are more than 3.4 million secretaries in the U.S. workforce, and approximately 1 percent of them are men.

Secretaries Day is sponsored by Professional Secretaries International, formerly the National Secretaries Association, also based in Kansas City. The day was first observed in 1952 to recognize "the secretary, upon whose skills, loyalty and efficiency the functions of business and government offices depend." It's still a popular, albeit sometimes controversial, holiday that human resources professionals often celebrate with their secretaries, administrative assistants and staffs.

For example, Sandy Schubert, HR manager for Claritech Corp. in Pittsburgh, says she gave her assistant a CoachTM change purse this year. "And, our CEO also took all of our assistants out to lunch and gave them corsages."

Instead of celebrating Secretaries Day, however, a law firm renamed the day and celebrates "Staff Appreciation Day" instead, according to one HR manager. Everyone below the level of manager receives a gift from the firm. This year they received electronic Rolodexes^sub TM^. "It is felt that since we have many non-managerial positions that aren't secretarial, and since there may be some managers or attorneys who aren't inclined to give any gifts, this treats everyone fairly," he says.

And, at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York, the organization's management team celebrated the contributions of all non-exempt staff, not just secretaries. …