How can the least diverse sector be the lead in changing the diversity paradigm?
Diversity (or lack of) is one of our key focus areas. Saxus is strongly committed to building a diverse future – with particular focus on cognitive diversity rather than the broad-brush gender /race / sexuality diversity of yesterday. A diversity based on true self rather than extrinsic factors…
This search for greater creativity and spark has led me through many thought processes and one in particularly is this:
HR is, quite possibly, one of the least diverse sectors in business. It is the one area of the C suite where women outnumber men. The majority of HR graduates are women…
Is this a case of women rising – or is this in fact a lack of diversity issue that we seem comfortable to ignore?
HR has historically been a “people-focussed” side of the business with a strong leaning towards administrations. Historically women have been the mainstay of secretarial functions and so the move to a career in HR has been an easy one. In fact, for many women the move to HR was clearly a step in the right direction – the pay was better, the career opportunities better and perhaps more importantly – the dinosaur (male) bosses of the 1970s were comfortable with women in this so called more “caring” profession. Today 73% of HR Managers are women. (source: 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics)
So – the real question here is… Is this a problem? The rise of women in the workforce is a good thing, the inclusion of greater numbers of women in the C suite can only be beneficial – and – let’s face it – historical work patterns do lead towards a gender bias in other professions (think nursing and teaching!). But if we have realised the need for less gender bias in these professions – then why are we still so secure with the world of HR being a female only zone?
HR is the gatekeeper to our organisations. If diversity breeds more creativity and productivity – then why wouldn’t your Human Resources department be the first place you look to change the status quo? Talk of diversity is cheap when the first people you interact with are not showing the way as role models themselves.
So, do we need to change?
Well I would argue that this is a resounding YES. Diversity is an all-encompassing factor in the way we improve all aspects of our world of work. A greater diversity in HR will filter through to the rest of organisation.
As with most things – the path to change starts with enlightenment – it’s about changing education and perceptions. A male nurse 20 years ago would have been a standout feature of medical care – now it’s just a healthcare professional.
Graduate programmes need to actively encourage men to consider a career in HR –and job descriptions need to show less gender bias. HR is not purely an admin role. It is strategic and critical to business success. After all, if we all agree that our people are critical to our organisation – then surely the department geared towards those people is an integral part of corporate success?
First impressions matter.
If diversity matters – then perhaps it’s time to change the face of HR?