There are many benefits to having women in leadership positions. In fact, research has shown that women bring a diversity of skill sets, and less gender discrimination in the management ranks, often leading to greater profitability. However, while successful women like Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook) and Marissa Meyer (Yahoo) have gained recognition in recent times, there is still a long way to go in reaching gender parity in the C suite. In Australia, women only make up 16.3% of the C suite. Interestingly, the women in the C suite are most likely to be employed as their company’s Chief of Human Resources (CHRO) or HR Director. While gender bias is an oft-cited barrier to the C suite, can senior female executive in HR lead the charge in greater female representation in the workplace?
Women Dominate HR
The HR Director’s APAC HR Report found that 73% of HR professionals in Australia are women. Similarly, the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand found that women make up 84% of the HR industry in New Zealand. But why do so many women perceive HR as a great career pathway? Research conducted by women only job review site Fairygodboss found that women in HR genuinely enjoy their jobs, reporting a greater level of job satisfaction than their counterparts in other departments. This is largely due to being in a female oriented department, where women experience less gender discrimination on the job, along with better compensation.
Women At The Top
Walk into any corporate office and there is a one in two chance that the CHRO is a woman. Yes, 50% of CHROs are women, which is a great statistic. Fairygodboss found this to be an especially positive thing for younger women in the workplace. Having a female role model affords junior female staff an opportunity to observe and learn from a mentor who has successfully scaled the corporate ladder.
Helping Other Women in the Workplace
But here lies the conundrum: while women in HR are getting promoted to the C suite, helping women in other departments reach the same heights is not so easy. Indeed, HR professionals occupy a unique vantage point within organisation, being at the centre of people related activities. However, many women in HR do not feel empowered to enact change. As Georgene Huang, CEO of Fairygodboss found, senior leaders in HR are too focused on recruiting or learning and development to spearhead meaningful change in the gender equality space. Huang concluded that the highest levels of management need to be onboard to drive change in employer culture and policies as well.