After a number of years working in Human Resources I’m left with the knowledge that somewhere along the way HR became a pink job. Working in Government departments and multinationals, every head of HR bar one has been a woman. Now with the drive for more women in leadership roles this can be counted as a good thing, until you start to listen to the number of HR people that talk about not being at the C suite table, or how their head of HR isn’t an executive role etc. The question is which came first? Was HR sidelined as warm and fuzzy regardless of if head of HR wore pants or a skirt, or was it sidelined as a result of the high number of women in HR – particularly in leadership roles.
Whether it’s a carryover from its roots in Personnel Management, or the impression that the discipline lacks the rigour and strategic importance to the business when compared to production (often male dominated), finance (again often male dominated), or the retail/sales areas of the business.
Either way it would appear that HR is being held back from delivering the results that shareholders and stakeholders are demanding from their businesses. Human Resources can deliver incredible value, however if HR is being sidelined either because it’s a pink job or its too warm and fuzzy to be taken with any level of seriousness, then we need to take a long hard look at the profession and map out a way forward.
I’m unsure what the answer might look like, certainly I see graduate programs playing a part, ensuring that up and coming employees understand the ins and outs of human resources. The final answer however is much larger than human resources, it’s a question of the respect that women as professionals should be able to access on equal footing as their male counterparts. Too often we are judge on our gender rather than our contributions, and given the number of men in leadership roles – many of them fathers to young girls, one has to ask what kind of world they are leaving for their daughters?