A Little Honest Lecture (If You Want to Hear It) About the Future of HR

Oct 31, 2013

I know a human resources leader who thinks he knows everything. (Hold on, you don’t know him.)

He lives in London. (Hold on, you still don’t know him.)

He likes to pop in and out of my life and tell me why I am entertaining, but wrong. I didn’t ask for his thoughts. He shares them, anyway.

It is an interesting relationship.

I know he has no incentive to read what I write. When he gives feedback, there is no agenda. And I rarely push back … but this guy just gave me a lecture about the future of  HR and why women are more powerful than I think.

Insight into HR’s version of the 80-20 rule

It was an interesting exchange. Here are some excerpts:

  • When it comes to gender representation in HR it seems there just no answer that makes the female lobby happy.”

That’s true. Some of the 80 percent who work in human resources (women) are unhappy with the 20 percent who actually lead human resources departments (men). We are unhappy with the imbalance in power and compensation. I wonder why this lobby won’t shut up and get back in the kitchen?

  • With >80 percent of HR female today, that  percentage at the top will rise inexorably to become an overwhelming majority as the older male demographic retires.

That’s not true. A growing demographic doesn’t correlate to a rise in power. If it did, we would see more women and people of color in power in our national governments. Barack Obama and Margaret Thatcher don’t count if they are the first and last.

Dealing with HR’s “pink ghetto”

  • In fact the >80 percent female has led to complaints that HR is a gender-segregated profession like nursing (i.e., it’s a girl’s job).”

That is true. I agree. HR is segregated by gender, which is interesting because the history of labor is entwined with unions, lawyers and an otherwise male-dominated power structure.

As women have emerged as leaders in HR during the past two decades, a pink ghetto has emerged. I am unhappy with that ghetto. I’d like to burn it to the ground. Unfortunately, it means dismantling much of the modern day human resources department.

  • Oh, and our diversity head isn’t black.

Good. Finally. Progress. We know we’ll have made strides in HR when the head of diversity at your company looks like Tim Sackett.

  • “The negativity on this blog plays well with the insecure and unintelligent, but as my HR function doesn’t do BS, is well liked and highly valued by the business and contributes hundreds of millions of dollars to our margins for a tiny cost, I really can’t be bothered …”

You were just bothered … and bothersome!

Looking for honest, meaningful conversation

Anyway, it is good to have friends all over the world who love me and care about my content enough to share their honest and candid opinions.

Feedback can be a gift. And I try to pay it forward and offer concise, direct feedback to many women in my life. I think it makes my network stronger.

And now I am looking forward to dinner the next time I am in London. I know exactly who is buying, too.

That’s the price for offering feedback to people in your lives. If you share your unsolicited thoughts via email, prepare to follow-up in real life with an honest and meaningful conversation.

I owe some people dinner.

There’s more from Laurie Ruettimann at her blog, The Cynical Girlwhere this originally appeared.

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