HR for women only?

An opinion piece written in Australia has warned HR is becoming a female only career with men missing out on senior roles, but can the same be said for New Zealand?

HR for women only?
An opinion piece written in the Australian Business Review Weekly has raised concerns that HR is being women-only as companies try to have more women in senior roles. It quotes one highly qualified HR male as saying that he has been told HR director roles are women-only. But can a similar attitude be found in New Zealand? Not so according to those HRM Online spoke with.

Jason Walker, New Zealand Director of international recruitment firm Hays, told HRM Online he was surprised by the comments and would have to “completely disagree” with them.

“It’s completely different to what we are seeing in the New Zealand market,” he said.

Walker said while he agrees it is an industry that is heavily dominated by women, in his experience the demand for men in the industry is increasing to create diversity. He added men tended to go towards Managing Director and General Manager roles over senior HR roles as they attracted higher salaries.

Richard Westney, Head of HR Australasia FNZ, also expressed surprise at the article.

“I have never come across anything like that or heard those sorts of things mentioned. It is simply a fact that HR is a female dominated profession now and there just aren’t many men coming through so I personally doubt organisations are making conscious decisions to employ only females in senior HR roles. It just happens by default,” he said.

“Are males making it through? Well, if I look at my company for example, my counterpart in Europe is also male and so is our Group Head of HR. So the three senior HR roles globally are filled by males. 

“I can also think of at least one occasion when I was given a role primarily because I was male. They otherwise had an all-female team and felt they needed a male to balance things out a bit so it’s probably worked in my favour more than hindered my career.”

HRINZ National Vice-President and Principal at HR recruitment company HR 2 Go, Julia Stones, agreed it was not the case in New Zealand.

“I don’t think anyway under New Zealand law any employer would be able to overtly state that they were not accepting men for the role. The emphasis is very much on the best candidate for the role,” she said.

“I would say if I think of roles I’ve placed in Head of HR it’s a pretty even mix and certainly when I’ve been working with organisations I haven’t encountered a stated preference – it has always been we need to find the best person for the role.”

However, Stones said she recently spoke with a senior male HR professional who made it into the final two for a role but missed out who had wondered if it had had anything to do with a desire to have more women.

She said while playing in the background could be the awareness of the lack of women generally at board level, the lack of scale in New Zealand meant senior roles would attract fierce competition.

To read the opinion piece click here

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