Is HR really Female?

The Godfather of HR John Sumser put up a post over at HRXaminer – HR is Female – from a report by HRxAnalysts that shows 75% of those in HR are female, white, etc.  (I know you’re shocked – good thing someone funded that survey!) 

My question is – who cares? (besides John – who it thinks everyone in the HR community is more influential than me, so let’s face it, he can suck eggs)

Now the guys at HRxAnalysts (John and another guy with a very impressive resume that includes StarrTincup) will say that those who sell to HR care – by having this data you can better prepare your sales presentation and tact to potentially close more buyers, etc.  But that isn’t really my question…

Who cares – in terms of – is it really that important?  I mean really.

HR is the one part of every organization that it isn’t suppose to matter if your female or male, white or black, straight or gay, cat or dog.  One problem with surveys like the one above is they perpetuate a notion – a notion that “HR is Female” – I know they are just stating facts – but in the end, they are also making a conclusion – “HR is Female”.   What is HR wanted to by “Flamboyantly Gay Male” – nope – can’t do it  – “HR is Female”.

What if Female wanted to be “Operations is Female” – nope – can’t do it – “Operations is…” –oh wait, you don’t know what Operations is do you?  Because no one did some stupid survey about it and make it official, did they?  Operations might be Female, or Male, of Single-Black-Female-with-1-kid – but you don’t know that – so now when you look at Operations – you don’t see Female – you see “Possibilities”.

I love data, but sometimes we measure just to measure, with no real purpose in why we are measuring.  Then when the measurement is done, we have to publish something – even if it really has no real baring on anything.  Yep – HR is Female, and she’s smart and she’s mostly white and she mostly likes dogs – but HR is also Male, and she is also black, and she also likes cats.

 My advice to HR vendors trying to sell to HR – get to know HR for who she/he is, build the relationship, find out if your product/service helps solve a need they have and go from there (tip: it takes more than one phone call and visit – and not all HR Pros like donuts, some like bagels).

8 thoughts on “Is HR really Female?

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  4. Let’s take for granted for a tiny moment that HR really is female, based on the data. If so, it’s important to note that the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer is male, at least the majority of them are.

    So, if the “HR is female” meme is meant to convey that males have a tougher time in HR than women do, the data explicitly doesn’t back that up.

    Which leads us right back to … what was the point of this again?

    (Just sayin’.)

  5. Another great post, Tim. You’re right, it shouldn’t matter. However as an HR professional in transition, I believe my maleness and whiteness are an obstacle to overcome. Too may organizations think they have to try to have a “diverse” face in HR. If not a minority, at least a female. I think the fact that women are thought to be and generally maybe are better at listening and empathizing may come into play as well. Anyway, you’re right, it shouldn’t matter!

  6. Hey Tim:
    Great post. I thought it would be useful to shed some light on the actual research project. John’s post was based on 1 data point in a report that contains thousands of data points. The purpose of the report was to provide insight into all aspects of the HR professional – not just gender, race, age and other demographics. But people alway polarize around the gender issue. The research in the report covers everything from career aspirations and professional development plans to leisure activities, lifestyle choices and general outlook. The significance of the report is that it seeks to replace years of stereotype and less-than-flattering characterizations of HR professionals with hard data (collected from over 1000 participants across a 3-year period). Ironically, the final outcome is that it shows the true intellectual and philosophical diversity across HR professionals, rather than positioning them as a monolithic culture that is this or that. Vendors spend billions of dollars marketing to HR professionals without really know who they are as people. Unfortunately, mass marketing is one strategy that must be used in a successful marketing mix, and having access to information about your target buyer is critical to the success of that investment. I think before you dismiss the validity of the research project, you would at least need to read the report and understand the purpose of the research.
    Thanks,
    B.

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