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HR Is Female

On March 30, 2011, in HRExaminer, More2Know, by John Sumser

HR is Female, HRExaminer

Having an extended conversation about the essential femaleness of one particular management discipline is a challenging thing to consider in our cultural environment.

HR Is Female

HR is a 47 year old white woman. She’s married, with kids and has pets that probably aren’t cats. She has either an advanced degree or a nationally recognized certificate.

While HR is widely understood to be a difficult place to sell and do business, it’s worth considering that the problem lies with the sellers, not the buyers.The uniformity of the profession’s angst about salespeople, marketing and vendor performance suggest that there’s something really wrong with the way that vendors see their HR customers.

These are a few of the top level insights from the new HRxAnalysts report, What HR Thinks and Feels: The 2011 HRxAnalysts Psychographic Survey of HR Professionals. Based on nearly 1,000 surveys (250 questions each), the report summarizes the first layer of our enormous database of HR lifestyles, attitudes, political alignment, sales orientation, career choices and other details about the character of HR. Conducted over the course of two years, the study is both valid and reliable. The confidence interval is about 98% and the margin of error is about 2%.

HR is the only predominantly female function in the contemporary organization. It is the beach head of accomplishment in the generational move of women from home to the executive suite. While the oft-repeated stereotype is that men are HR’s decision makers, the truth is that women occupy two thirds of the HR executive seats.

It’s useful to imagine that the people who populate the HR Department are heroes. The function provides work, upward mobility and access to the heart of organizational culture for a class of people with little organizational history.

Being a fundamentally female function, HR behaves differently than other parts of the organization. It’s more networky and can be nurturing. It’s natural that development is housed here.

The essence of HR might be its ability to make clear judgments about really intangible things like personality, potential and match-making. These are stereotypical female things.

Having an extended conversation about the essential femaleness of one particular management discipline is a challenging thing to consider in our cultural environment. But, if the real difference between HR and other functions is rooted in this difference, we’d better figure out how to have the straight talk. It’s impossible to deliver really useful products and services without an unbiased vew of your customer.

Take a look at the HRxAnalysts‘ website. We are going to be deeply investigating the real character of the HR Profession. Our work suggests that things are way different than conventional wisdom suggests.

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