How is an all-women HR team at Ford’s Dagenham plant an example of diversity in the workplace (Personnel Today, 21 February)? And how representative can it be of “a workforce that is still 92% male”? Shouldn’t companies like Ford sort out their ‘shop-floor’ diversity before trumpeting that they have lots of women in HR?
If Ford could get its production-line staffing ratio to even 25:75 female to male, then I’d be impressed. And at that point, it would be appropriate for the company to have one woman on its four-person heads-of-HR team. But still not four.
It may be an achievement of sorts for an industrial business to attract top female HR talent, and these women may catalyse a wider diversity programme. But until they do, surely Ford’s male employees will be without the empathetic HR leadership that can only come from having managers of the same gender.
Who will deny that the tiny minority of Dagenham’s staff who are female will get disproportionate levels of preferential treatment – more consideration, benefits and employment flexibility (assuming that this is a good thing)? And what do you imagine this will do to the morale of the huge majority of male workers who may prefer the status quo?
Without wishing to play too overtly to sexual stereotypes, car production, just like construction and oil drilling, is noisy, risky, dirty and physical. And the intensity of such jobs is only mitigated by a sort of bloke-ish banter that can alienate and upset many women.
Maybe we should leave the two sexes to choose the careers that most appeal to them, rather than expending huge amounts of time
and effort trying to force the issue.