The Elephant in the Room

Practical solutions to 26 HR dilemmas

In February 2022, DOHR Managing Director Donna Obstfeld releases her first book.

Based on the series of blogs she wrote to celebrate DOHR’s 14th birthday in May 2021, Donna was encouraged to take her advice a bit further, to introduce some story-telling and give business owners an insight into the world of People Management by encouraging them to discuss all those topics they would rather avoid….. The Elephants in the Room

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The Elephant in the Room

This is the first in a series of blogs to mark our 14th birthday on 1st May 2021. The background to my thinking here is a little odd, but the theme of these blogs is based on ‘The Elephant in the Room’. All the things which employers do not want to talk about or deal with; sometimes because they are embarrassed, but often because they don’t know how.

First, let me explain where the elephant came from…..

If you look up 14th anniversary gifts, you will find that the traditional gift is Ivory. Today, in our much more alert world of conservation and environmental awareness, ivory is no longer an acceptable gift and therefore the concept has evolved into giving elephant related presents or making a donation to a charity for elephant protection.

I have been privileged enough to meet several herds of almost wild elephant at Addo Elephant National Park in South Africa. They are the most incredible creatures who are so sensitive and intelligent. Their herds are often led by a matriarch and they have complex emotions, feelings, compassion and self-awareness. Did you know that an elephant can recognise itself in a mirror? The elephant represents stability, patience and dignity.

When thinking about how to link the elephant to 14 successful years of DOHR, I thought about sayings and quotes related to elephants:

  • An elephant never forgets (English Proverb)
  • The Elephant in the room (English Proverb)
  • Do not compare a fly with an elephant (Greek Proverb)
  • To make an elephant out of a mosquito (Dutch Proverb)
  • There is only one way to eat an elephant, one bite at a time (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)
  • Nature’s great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great thing. (John Donne)
  • Be the witness of your thoughts. The elephant hauls himself from the mud. In the same way drag yourself out of your sloth. (Buddha)
  • As an elephant in the battlefield withstands arrows shot from bows all around, even so shall I endure abuse. (Buddha)
  • When there is an invisible elephant in the room, one is from time to time bound to trip over a trunk. (Karen Joy Fowler)
  • Our elders say that an elephant does not find its own trunk heavy. (Zakes Mda)

So, for our 14th birthday / anniversary our blogs are all going to be about ‘The Elephant in the Room’. Although many of the above are apt for the world of People Management and HR, there are so many issues which become ‘an elephant in the room’….. it just has to be done!

Over the next month, our blogs will cover:

Smelly Employees

Mental Health

Click on any of the links below to read the blog:

Protected Characteristics

Loan Elephants

If you are affected by, or dealing with, any of the issues being discussed in these articles, professional help is available. We know that some of our content is going to be triggering – that’s why it is ‘The Elephant in the Room’. We know not everyone will agree with us – that’s ok, it’s life and reflects the reality of a diverse workplace.

All we ask is that you are not disagreeable in your disagreement.


Share your thoughts and comments, but do not be hateful to others. Be kind, seek to understand and learn to accept that the world is a richer place because of our differences.