Ok, I admit upfront that having an extended conversation about the seeming problem of HR being a female domination of one particular management discipline is a challenging thing to consider and discuss, but I always wondered why HR is predominately female. Let me share my thoughts
HR is the only predominantly female professional area in the majority of businesses and organisations. While the oft-repeated stereotype is that men are the HR decision makers, the Australian reality is that women generally occupy up to two thirds of the HR seats in almost any function from low to high end executive HR positions. It’s also one of the only professional areas where woman are strongly represented at senior manager and executive positions (unfortunately and unjustly).
To speak about the essential femaleness of one particular management discipline is a touchy thing to consider especially if you are, like me, male but if a difference between HR and other functions is possibly rooted in this difference, it’s definitely worth having the straight talk.
It’s impossible to deliver really useful products and services without an unbiased view of your typical HR customer(s) who require the following from a good HR professional. I love my work in this profession and here is why I believe men can also be good HR professionals, provided they are prepared to bring the following to the job:
- Should be sociable since the work involves people every day;
- Must be patient and understanding of others’ problems;
- Must be empathetic and must easily sense people’s feelings;
- Must be well organised since the volume of work is quite high in all areas of HR;
- Must be a good mediator almost all the time, since most people have trouble communicating effectively;
- Must be a very good listener;
- Must always be ready to help and stick to promises;
- Must have a thick skin;
- Must be a good diplomat – do the job even if you don’t like the people you work with;
- Must understand that inside the company or industry, the employees are your clients and that clients’ needs come first.
Those are essentially the main skills you need to bring to the profession. PC skills, social media and cloud computing and all the other current smarts are also useful, but not generally top priority. So, if you are male and you are keen to ‘break into’ this profession, here are the top five areas you need to improve if you want to be considered for the job.
- Know and work with HR technology. It’s 2016 and you better leverage and use current and new HR technology and opportunities to make it all a bit more efficient and accurate in day-to-day operations.
- Demonstrate that you are a forward-thinker. Plan for the future of their workplaces, identifying potential threats and opportunities for attracting and retaining top talent, as well as ways to make positive changes to their organisation’s culture. Actually Care. If you want to stand out, show that you have integrity and instinctively care about people.
- Show that you are strategic. Don’t operate in a vacuum. Instead, demonstrate that you understand your client’s strategy, take an interest in their vision, and align their work, projects, and goals with their needs.
- Communicator. I’ve learned that the most effective HR professionals are strong communicators and influencers. They communicate with ease and are also able and ready to effectively facilitate change.
- Show that you are ethical. If you going to handle confidential information and sensitive issues ranging from employee medical conditions and performance problems to legal matters, you must show that you are a trusted, ethical person. Your clients don’t just expect you to do what’s standard or required by law, they expect you to do what’s right for their people, even if a higher cost or greater time investment is attached.
Do you think you can do this? Can you succeed as a male HR professional? I think you can. Get out there and start to look and apply for HR roles. It is one of the most rewarding professions I know. Good luck and remember to hunt wisely.