The Business of Human Relations

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A few years ago, I had the pleasure of working in the marketing department of a human resources (HR) organization.

By Nona Phinn

I so appreciate that time in my career. It is where I learned about the business of HR and came to understand the value of this role in any company. My eyes opened to how vital human beings are to an organization. I always knew it, yes, but I’m not certain I really grasped the breadth and depth of how people are the backbone of business.

McCormick & Company gets it. Lisa Manzone, Senior Vice President of Human Relations for Global McCormick, explains her title: “We call ourselves human relations versus human resources, and actually, C. P. McCormick made that change when he was CEO of the company, because of his real focus on people. It was about the relationship between people, and not necessarily just looking at people as resources.”   

In 1932, Charles, or C. P., McCormick assumed the role of president after his uncle and company founder, Willoughby McCormick, passed away. This moment was a turning point in the flavor company’s history. C. P. did not subscribe to the traditional ways of working in an industry where people were treated like numbers and the focus was all on the product.

“He really understood that it was not only about the work but also about the culture, and he really put things in place that have made our company great thus far, and we’ll continue to build upon in the future,” Manzone says.

In 1949, C. P. published a book titled Power of People, which laid the groundwork for the company’s culture. It outlines and continues to support McCormick’s belief system—human relations professionals at the flavor company hand out Power of People at every orientation session for global employees, and employees still refer to its pages today.

The book discusses the McCormick multiple management board, a program built on the concept of putting people first that was launched at McCormick in 1932. Select employees are given the opportunity to impact the direction of the business through projects and case studies that are sponsored by executives.

“The results of those projects are put in place to solve business problems, implement new thinking, create new structures, and thought processes. So, it’s very much a part of our business success as well as our development success,” Manzone says.

What we usually hear about McCormick is that it is one of the most sustainable companies in the food industry. It conducts business for today while ensuring a better tomorrow.  From harvesting rainwater at its Gourmet Garden facility in southern Australia to providing tablet technology to farmers so they can disclose exactly how spices are farmed, this organization brings transparency and sustainability to the marketplace.  

However, what I admire most are the opportunities for engagement and involvement that McCormick offers its employees, enabling them to build their own lives and impact the life of the organization. Its Power of People core principle and its people-first culture are sustainable methods for conducting business.

“C.P. recognized that all people matter, and it’s our responsibility always to do our part. That’s not only for the employees of McCormick but also for the communities in which we work,” Manzone says.

As employees grow and dedicate their energy to and invest in the life of McCormick, they reap full acknowledgment for their efforts and partnership in return. Fostering the power of its people is the McCormick legacy that enables the company to continue to shine bright into the future.

A light—and an idea—that will impact the world.

Read more about McCormick in our Summer 2018 issue of TRUSTED.


Nona A. Phinn is the Founder and CEO of THuS Marketing and Branding Services, a firm that helps personal and corporate brands communicate their mission in an intimate and profound way. Through her firm, Phinn gets to do what she loves best: create and implement strategies that get to the heart of marketing.