Thursday, July 11, 2013

We Need More Balls in HR

Just coming off "the big HR Conference" I have been thinking about the theme of "becoming more" in regards to my HR colleagues, friends and clients.  I have been analyzing some common themes and it gets down to this...


I believe we need more balls in the sense of chutzpah and assertiveness.  We need to get off the business partner train, grow balls and be a true business leader.  I feel like a lot of HR professionals are waiting for a business problem to be solved.  Why not figure out the pressing issues in the organization and begin to solve those proactively.  Those are the problems that you will be recognized for not the obvious ones.  Some of us are just waiting to be told what the new normal looks like.  We need to help shape the new normal.  We need to drive the new normal so it doesn't get created for us.

I know I am going to get some flack for this next statement, but we need more men in our profession.  So, literally we need more balls. I think men bring a difference in thought, approach and experience that HR can really use at this time.   Let's face it, I didn't see too many men dancing to Kelly Clarkson at the conference last month.  We are at a critical juncture within HR.  We are rethinking ourselves.  As Jennifer McClure says, "We need to blow this thing up."

I think a more diverse group of professionals would do our profession good.  I think we have a overwhelming amount of women because of our reputation as "caretakers" of the people.  During our administrator days, women were perfect for pushing papers and organizing picnics.  Remember those days, when women hadn't been in the work force that long.  I am stating a fact...not that I agree with the stereotypes.  I am a very strong-willed independent woman that happens to be in HR, so I believe we have way more to offer than we have been given credit for in the past few decades.

I think with the addition of more males in our profession, we would have a more well-rounded profession.  Depending on who you read,  about 67% of most HR departments are female and that is not surprising as females are great at intuition like when it comes to hiring and nurturing when it comes to employee development and problem solving when it comes to employee relations.

What we haven't been good at is understanding the business, data and metrics, efficiency, technology, project planning and decision making.  In GENERAL these are competencies that men bring to the table.  Not that some women don't...I personally have all of these, but I am the exception and not the rule.

Anytime you have a group underrepresented in a profession there are discussions that happen.  Nursing is a female occupation.  Teaching is for girls.  HR is for women.  If you think about organizations and their functional areas HR is really the only one that has this big of a gender bias.  IT and Finance had a gap at one time, but even those functions are closing their gaps.

I believe there are many reasons for the stereotypes in these professionals.  Historically, some jobs are seen as more "women" friendly so that women can balance their professional and personal lives.    Fast forward today, roles in business and at home have changed dramatically.  Women are now more often than not the sole bread runner or the primary bread winner:

According to a recent study from Pew Research, 40% of all households with children younger than 18 include women who are either the sole or primary breadwinners. Most of us -- 63% -- are single mothers.
As women are now in the bread winner role, does that mean typical "female" careers are no longer desirable and more "male" oriented roles are the target?

I see a huge shift in skills sets needed in HR, more left brain work as opposed to right.   As, HR departments are morphing to meet these shifts and current challenges within organizations what do you see as far as demographics and skill sets?
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