Women are dominating the profession of HR and the consequences can be unexpected and far-reaching
If the latest statistics are anything to go by, men are not just outnumbered in HR - they’re well and truly the minority.
Frazer Jones’ Global HR Survey sought the opinion of nearly 3,500 HR professionals around the world and 62% of the respondents globally were female.
Moreover, a survey conducted by the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand found that 84% of respondents said HR was significantly over-represented by women.
So what are the consequences of having so many women in one profession?
Lisa Annese, CEO of the Diversity Council Australia (DCA), told HC that when women are in the majority in particular careers then those professions are at risk of being seen as devalued.
“So if you have many women congregating in particular professions, as you do in HR, then those careers tend to be less valued in an organisation compared to other careers such as finance, sales, engineering or science,” she said.
“However, looking after people is one of the most important roles an organisation can play, so it’s unfortunate that this is the case.”
For Annese, all professions would benefit by having greater gender balance and it’s vital that we move past the hackneyed stereotypes.
“Women are traditionally seen to have better soft skills, communication skills, language skills and caring skills. But actually the science doesn’t bear that out,” she said.
“Women can still be very analytical, logical and have really good spatial awareness, so you have women who are really good engineers and scientists.”
Conversely, men can be really good at HR and the real danger is if they start to believe the stereotypes and become the myth that people believe to be true.
Indeed, the view of the DCA is that professions are much better and fairer when they have a really diverse representation of people because then things like group think are avoided.
Annese adds that there should be more work done to proactively attract men to the profession. This is for a number of reasons, namely because it would provide men with more options in terms of what careers are appropriate for them.
“As organisations, we should always be trying to strive for a more diverse workforce,” she said.
Naomi Mourra, head of HR for Australia & New Zealand, at BBC Worldwide, agrees that having a better gender balance is beneficial in any field because industries which are not diverse risk losing credibility.
“As the role of HR becomes more influential, I think it will be a more attractive role to men,” says Mourra.
“In a company where HR has a bigger role to play, I think you do get more diversity. However if the perception of HR is the fluffy people stuff, that may not be attractive to men.”