March is Women’s History Month. Since this is a blog (primarily) about HR, I started thinking about the women I have known throughout the history of my HR career. See what I did there? All of my previous managers (for full-time jobs) have been women. That makes sense considering 76% of Human Resources Managers are women, according to 2014 statistics from the US Department of Labor. However, the manager who started me on this HR road was a male manager I had for a non-HR job. To this day I remember him as my most supportive manager. He saw something special in me and committed to helping me succeed in my career, to the point that when he switched agencies, he found a job for me in his new agency. That job was my first HR position (though it was called personnel.)
As I sit here pondering the significance of women in my career, I realize I’ve never had a woman manager who did the same. Don’t get me wrong- I pretty much owe my career to women because it’s been a woman who has hired me for each position I’ve held. But after that male manager I had many moons ago, I haven’t had one who really seemed invested in my career or in seeing me grow/get ahead, outside of how it would benefit them. I’ve often wondered if the outcome would have been different if I’d had more male managers.
Which leads me to this – HR is a woman-heavy industry but are there too many women? Wait, before you hate. I have some AMAZING women HR professionals in my network who have been quite encouraging. However, when it comes to actually working with women in the same workplace, I really haven’t felt the same level of support. The women who look out for me most in my career are typically not in HR. Odd, right?
Maybe this experience is unique to me. I don’t know. Sometimes I just wonder if too many women in HR are so busy fighting for respect, equality, a voice, and a crack in the glass ceiling that the time isn’t there to nurture and support. Sometimes I wonder if it’s a fear of perceived competition. Not so fun fact: Even though we work to establish salary ranges and attempt to ensure pay equity for others, we’re STILL paid far less than our male counterparts (40% less for Managers and 38% less for other HR Professionals based on the aforementioned 2014 DOL statistics.) So yeah, I get it. Times are hard.
Of course I don’t really think there are too many women in HR. At least I don’t think I really think that. As I said, this whole experience could be unique to me and/or the people I’ve worked with. Perhaps everyone else has had amazing, supportive women mentors in their HR careers. Or been one. But I wonder…
If you’re reading this and you’re an HR professional, particularly if you’re a woman, I encourage you to reflect on the women who have helped/encouraged you in your career as well as the women you have helped/encouraged. If that number is small, or zero, there’s an opportunity for change.
I leave you with the following video of rapper Remy Ma which was posted by Marie Claire in celebration of Women’s History Month. The video inspired me to write this post because women have enough problems in the world, the least we can do is help each other when we have the chance, in our personal and professional lives.
DISCLAIMER: Mild adult language. Don’t watch if you have easily offended sensibilities. Might be NSFW depending on where you work. If you’re in an open office space, wear earphones.