In the current workspace climate, it seems apt that organisations have more women in the HR department, which deals on a personal level with employees in any organisation, so that the drive to end inequality in office space moves in the correct direction. The significance of this hasn’t escaped organisations. Which is why more women HR heads are replacing their male counterparts across organisations in India.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • A study mapped the movements of women HR officers over the last few years. It found that women had replaced a male incumbent as an HR head in over 60% cases.
  • The study also reveals that 85% of these movements were external hires.
  • .Only 15% among these women have risen vertically. It shows how till now, men have been favoured up the leadership ladder.
  • Having female leaders also creates a support system for female employees in an organisation.

When Xpheno, a specialist staffing firm, mapped 200 movements of women HR officers over the last few years, it found that they had replaced a male incumbent as an HR head in over 60% cases, says an article in The Times Of India.

The study also reveals that 85% of these movements were external hires, while 15% among these women have risen vertically to become CHROs (Chief HR Officer). The move could be a knee-jerk response from organisations, in light of increasing awareness about sexual harassment at the workplace. It can also be interpreted as a measure by companies to meet their diversity and inclusion (D&I) requirements, especially at leadership levels, as the above-stated article suggests.

Whatever may be the reason, that women are steadily reclaiming space in leadership roles, albeit in HR, is good news. They are finally breaking the glass ceiling and getting that spot at the round-table of company leadership. Hopefully, it will grant them enough power and authority to push the envelope of inclusion and gender parity in workplaces. Perhaps these women can look at IBM CHRO Diane Gherson and Microsoft Human Resources Executive Vice President Kathleen Hogan for inspiration. As per an article in Workforce, the former helped end performance reviews based on stack-ranking employees. Hogan, on the other hand, closed the gender pay gap at Microsoft in 2016, so that salaries for women are 99.8 cents for every $1 earned by men.

However, if you look at the latter part of the data closely, you would know that so far, HR itself has been a field ridden with gender discrimination.

Only 15% of these women have risen vertically. It shows how till now, men have been favoured up the leadership ladder. So the influx of women in HR today, in fact, tells us a story of bias as it is in any other field. We can attribute the shift to D & I guidelines, or the fantastical year of awareness regarding sexual harassment at the workplace, that 2018 has been. The problem now would be to sustain this shift. To ensure that women continue to gather more leadership roles and get a chance to showcase their talents.

One may argue that a walk up the leadership ladder must be strictly on grounds of capabilities. Yes, in an ideal world, it should be. But favouritism and gender bias are a harsh reality which working women face every day. The culture of male dominance resists the influx of women, like its life depends on it. How can one say that women who have been passed over for promotions or dropped out of the leadership race midway, did so because they were less talented, and not victims of bias? The increase in the number of women in critical leadership roles will play a big role in re-establishing gender dynamics in offices.

Women know what other women have to deal with, when it comes to pay-parity, discrimination and harassment. Thus, they can introduce measures to ensure a safer and more inclusive work environment.

Having female leaders also creates a support system for female employees in an organisation. 82% per cent of professional working women who participated in the KPMG Women’s Leadership study believed that access to and networking with female leaders will help them advance in their career. And what better leaders to reach out to than CHROs, who are trained in interaction and have refined interpersonal skills? Organisations can achieve a lot by giving female leads a chance. All they need is to sustain this shift and plan with the intention of achieving inclusion and equality.

Picture Credit: theinclusionsolution.me

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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