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...

HR NEEDS MORE BALLS

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?

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Some of your comments I agree with. Let's see if men will accept the wages women currently receive for these positions. (women usually receive less than our male peers for the same position)

Cathy Missildine said...

That is a great point! Thanks for reading!

Marc Jordan said...

15 years ago I was one of the few men in Human Resources. As more men enter the profession our reputation as "doers" and "problem solvers" will depend on the ability of both genders to work together toward a common goal. Together, we will make incredible strides in being powerful decision makers with our respective companies/organizations best interests in mind. Well written article!

Cathy Missildine said...

Hi Mark:

Thanks for reading and replying. I couldn't agree more that's the beauty of it all working together towards something that is better!!

Cathy

Jim Bohn said...

Dear "Anonymous". I stand amazed at the illogic of the statement men are paid more for the same jobs. Doesn't HR set the pay schedule? Wouldn't they know the disparity and ardently fight against it during a hiring situation? I think you are believing an old mythology, and, candidly, using this type of 'boys club' argument ain't gonna get the guys in the HR door. We already feel the disadvantage of gender disparity. Take it from a guy who loves to work with people but has found the door closed many times.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that the solution to the problem presented is more men are needed in HR. I believe we need more depth in problem solving, diversity in thought, more balance and understanding. Evening out the genders may be part of it; however, it's more about being open to new ways of thought, learning new skill sets and brining people in that have the skill sets that are needed. I have encountered both female and male HR people and managers that have been into the caretaking role versus instilling accountability. Organizations need a balance.

HR can not change a culture by itself. It takes an effort from the key leaders in an organization (including HR) to create the balance needed.

S Lovig said...

Cathy, thanks for raising the issue, and for asking HR people to 'look in the mirror.' As a guy in the HR field, I have often been the only male in a meeting with 15 - 35 other people. I didn't then, and I don't now see it as a gender issue. As you stated about yourself; women can accomplish the same achievements as men. I am bored with all the talk of being an "HR Business Partner," ensuing "Employee Engagement," and the other buzz words I'm hearing again and again. (I'm in a job search right now, and see those phrases in about 70% of the job postings I review.) Let's stop being worried that people won't like us; we need to have good business reasons for our ideas, and then speak up about them. If we disagree with a business goal because it will negatively effect people, but will increase bottom-line numbers, we need to have a different suggestion for getting to the same bottom-line success, instead of becoming the WARN Act expert, figuring out how best to layoff employees. Just my 2c. Steve Lovig

Camille Camporeale said...

If you have a business mindset and work at a startup and align with finance, HR can be a business leader. I am doing that now and it is making me see that I can be a business leader and not just HR.

Tony said...

Afraid men don't make the best people for administration roles or diplomacy so HR needs to decide what it wants to be before asking for men to join. Sorry to make politically incorrect statements but it is true.

Also the current path of administrator, advisor etc. is very unappealing to many women, never mind men, A Reward Consultant, absolutely, a Workforce Planning Consultant, definitely, an Employee Relations Manager, probably, HR Administrator, no thanks.

HR has a lot to offer the senior levels of management and implemented and used correctly is powerful stuff but sadly most senior people do not understand what the HR department does

Tom Ruderman said...

I applaud Cathy for having the balls to put this issue out there. My sense is we need to upgrade the talent level of the HR function. We need to attract really smart people with business acumen (business people who happen to specialize in HR), courage, self-confidence, edge (desire to win and a willingness to make tough decisions), energy, and analytical skills. Future HR leaders do need to have balls, but if they meet the above criteria they don't necessarily have to literally have balls.

Tom Ruderman said...

I applaud Cathy for having the balls to put this issue out there for debate. My sense is HR needs to attract really smart people with business acumen (business people who happen to speacialize in HR), courage, self-confidence, edge (driven to win and are willing to make tough decisions), energy, and analytical skills. Future HR leaders will need to have balls, but if they meet the above criteria, I don't believe they literally need to have balls. This isn't a gender issue; it is a talent and skill issue. We need different and better talent.

TrackAss said...

Wow, more men or more power to the people who need it.

Carolyn Scott, MA said...

Amazing conversation...be it male or female the best person for the job this century is assertive, strategic and results driven and either gender is qualified to do just that!

Cathy Missildine said...

I agree, what a great conversation and thank to all that contributed to it.

Anonymous said...

I certainly agree that the whole HR partner thing has gotten stale, and that we've really got to not just understand the business but help drive it. I also agree that HR is very female dominated, and as a HR guy, I am often times challenged by all the "talk" I have to engage in before I can get to the heart of the matter. It's a skill I've had to aquire to be successful.

Anonymous said...

From the guys out here, thanks for the vote of confidence. But I don'ty think we have the lock on what you need. You were spot on that we need folks in HR that can get their heads out of the hiring manuals and see what it is that is broken and then proactively fix it. That's by and large Business Analysis and Project Management. Where are all those MBAs and Six Sigma folks - and I mean women as well as men? They avoid HR like the plague cause they can't stand the thought of going to work for somebody who has been rewarded by following the rules.

Ian said...

This is awesome!