A women's world? 71% of profession made up of females

A women's world? 71% of profession made up of females
Sponsored byXpert HR

HR, a department held responsible for diversity, is failing to be an inclusive business area – with females accounting for roughly 71% of the profession.

Looking at our own data, 78% of females work as a Director, Manager or other HR professional in the HR operation/leadership function, 73% make up the resourcing sector, 68% account for Learning & Development positions and 64% of Compensation & Benefits roles are held by women.

Anne Allen, Director of People Experience at Xero, says she is still baffled by the imbalance: “What makes it so interesting is that we’re so underrepresented in senior roles within other departments. However, the most common theory is that it’s a job associated with listening qualities, compassion, patience and an understanding of empathy – traits which some men may feel uncomfortable to stand by as their redeeming qualities.”

In 1997, the proportion of women in HR was lower than today’s records, they made up 63.8%, but, since then, there has been a steady increase.

According to data from the XpertHR’s HR/Personnel Salary Survey for the period 1997 to 2011, the proportion of women working in HR in the UK steadily increased each year before reaching a peak of 79.3% in 2007.

After the peak, the number of female HR professionals ebbed and flowed, but figures remained above the 75% mark.  

The data also found that HR had the highest proportion of females in managerial posts compared to other industries, with women more likely to achieve executive positions in HR than across all managerial specialisms.

It also found that more women hold lower responsibility positions in HR, with 86% of entry-level HR roles held by a woman, compared with 58.9% among the wider managerial population. The gender pay gap was also significantly lower in HR than all other sectors.

Allen believes that, although men are underrepresented in the sector, the data is positive for females: “Take a look at where we’re underrepresented – the sciences, the technologies, engineering and the list goes on. There are incredible role models that have overcome barriers and stereotypes and have become figures that young girls can look up to. It’s impossible not to be proud of the work they do in challenging perceptions and making girls feel comfortable enough to follow their dreams aside from what they’re told they ‘should and shouldn’t do’.

“In HR, we don’t have the issue of underrepresentation, it’s a rare position to be in and one we should be proud of, but that’s not to say our work is done.”

She believes that HR should “be campaigning for businesses to champion all people-centric qualities as being crucial components to business success”.

“In doing so,” she concludes, “we help people disregard the notion of ‘gender specific’ skills and join people through a common goal - being the ultimate business professional.

“Too often are women called out for ‘selective feminism’ when nothing could be further from the truth. In our efforts to even out the gender in HR through fighting against associating traits with gender, we’re addressing the fundamental philosophy of equality; women can do what men can do, and men can do what women can do.”

Comments (2)

  • Tony Oldoryd
    Tony Oldoryd
    Tue, 18 Apr 2017 10:41am BST
    Is this the new 'glass ceiling'?
  • Sir
    Thu, 13 Apr 2017 2:34pm BST
    So, let's get this straight, recruitment into a profession is clearly discriminatory and we are not outraged ? Where is the action plan to set right this gross inequality ?
    Or is that a deafening silence I can hear ? - or just some lip service about men and women being equally equipped ?

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