For all those who are employed somewhere, this article may have something to relate to. While I talk about my thoughts on the topic, this post actually is backed by more than 100 years of Human Resource experience!
So, what comes to your mind when someone says HR? Here are some of the responses that I got from people working in other departments:
- Lucky people!
- Backbone of the company
- Undoubtedly my biggest liability (ofcourse from a sales person at a senior level)
- What HR? OK that department where some girls work?
- It hires and fires people
- It holds the company together and many more...
But one common observation I had in most of my interactions was that they all thought HR has now become a profile for females only - which was a big shocker to me (being an HR Professional myself). Hence I decided to speak to some specialists around and take their opinions about the same.
Mr. S.K.K. Warrier, a Stalwart in the Human Resource Function with almost 35 years of experience in various Industries (and currently heading HR in a leading Education Company) believes that this is not true completely. He certainly believes that due to a lot of females opting for higher education, the options in the Corporate World are opening up to them, but in the Manufacturing sector, where things are more unionized, males are still a preferred option. This does not happen because of the subject matter knowledge, but because in many cases females are not able to handle the aggressive union leaders and may just succumb to the pressures of employee unions, which does not happen frequently with their male counterparts.
Mr. Warrier however believes that the males are definitely losing it to females, when it comes to HR hiring. according to him, the need for 360 degree appraisals in HRD has risen owing to the increase in HR workforce in the last decade or so. Employees are happier interacting with female HR professionals and having females in your HRD helps you maintain a more decent code of conduct, says Mr. Warrier.
When I spoke to a female HR leader, Ms. Padmini Vinay who works for Teamlease Shared Services Pvt Ltd as a Senior Manager - HR, I came across a slightly different point of view. Ms. Vinay believes that HR is still a land of equal opportunities for both males and females because it is not the gender, but a mix of skills, education, personality and experience which makes a good HR Professional. She maintains that males may be losing out to females in the HRD, but does not think there is a concrete evidence or data to back it. Padmini however agreed with Mr. Warrier's views that HR certainly needs to be reviewed 360 degrees.
I think with so much happening in the corporate world in the last decade, the hiring in Human Resources has increased many folds. While this has opened doors for a lot of people who always wanted a nice corporate job, but the fact is that HR is not for everyone around. Just like Sales, IT, Finance - HR is also a specialist job. On an average interact with 30 to 50 different HR people in a month and the list just keeps building. Yes it is a fact that most of the people I get to interact with are females, but that's true only till the entry or middle level. However keeping the current workforce of females in HR at the entry and middle level, the day is not far, when we see the fairer sex on top of HRD in many more corporate.
I strongly believe that barring some of the good organizations, where HR is treated with its due importance - many companies seem to be hiring untrained professionals in HR with a mindset that HR can be done easily, which is not true! Right from recruitment's, to employee relations to training and development, everything needs expertise. HR to me is more of customer service and sales. Sales because they deal with people at the recruitment table and customer service because that's what they are supposed to do - "Ensure fair deals with and for their customers - The Employees"
I must make a mention, that this is not happening well, in-fact one could easily notice a hint of arrogance in the HRD today, though not always, but yes it has started to happen. While some companies focus a lot on strong HR practices, some tend to ignore the bad practices here. I think what really makes for a good HR person is strong technical acumen, an overall knowledge of how businesses work and most importantly - An urge from within to work for people. HR is the bridge between the employees and the management, this bridge has to be fair and strong. I know many HR people in the industry who are nothing less than exemplary and have myself been learning from them.
Overall, I don't think I endorse the belief that females are better suited to HRD then their darker counterparts :), but the trend is certainly changing - which says that if you are a female, then you have a home in HR! But that's not correct!!!
I hope you enjoyed reading this one, till my next post - keep that frown upside down :)