HR becoming more female, less accidental career choice

Men (31%) are less likely to fall into HR by chance than women (35%) according to the research
Men (31%) are less likely to fall into HR by chance than women (35%) according to the research

The human resources profession is becoming increasingly female according to new research released this week. However, fewer people are “falling into” a career in HR by chance, than previously.

The research by XpertHR also found that women are more likely than men to have joined HR having been asked to take on HR responsibilities in a previous role; and men are more likely to have trained in HR from the start.

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HR careers survey 2017

Nearly three-fifths (58%) of respondents said that they chose or moved into HR due to an interest in the work of HR. One-third (35%) entered the HR profession by chance and more than a quarter (29%) wanted to “work with people”.

These findings suggest a growing trend for HR professionals to have made a conscious decision to work in HR. In XpertHR’s previous surveys, the most common reason for beginning an HR career was by chance, cited by around half of respondents (49% in 2014 and 45% in 2011).

HR has long been known as a predominantly female career choice and that shows little sign of abating. More than four-fifths (84%) of HR professionals taking part in our survey are female. XpertHR acknowledged its sample was not a definitive reflection of the gender composition of UK HR but reported that the proportion of women in its 2017 research was notably higher than for the previous two surveys (75% in both 2014 and 2011).

Two-thirds (68%) of male respondents are in senior HR roles, compared with just over three-fifths (62%) of female respondents.

Other findings in XpertHR’s HR careers survey include:

  • 14% of HR professionals work part-time;
  • 91% are permanent employees, 5% are on fixed-term contracts and the remainder are self-employed or work on a day rate;
  • 85% of female HR respondents are CIPD members compared with 73% of male HR respondents; and
  • 14% of female HR respondents had no CIPD qualification, compared with 27% of men.

The most widespread organisational barriers to advancement in the HR profession are: the perception of HR by the organisation (for 49% of respondents); the lack of a clear HR strategy (41%); and a limited HR budget (36%).

5 Responses to HR becoming more female, less accidental career choice

  1. julia Birkett 20 Sep 2017 at 4:36 pm #

    So if 16% are male but 68% of that group are in senior positions then they don’t work up the ranks? An interesting observation!

    • Jim 21 Sep 2017 at 12:49 pm #

      I’m not sure that I follow the point you’re making Julia, but if over 60% of all respondents (both genders) are in ‘Senior’ positions, then my conclusion is that either :-
      a) junior HR employees tended not to respond to the survey, or
      b) HR, as a profession, is remarkably top heavy, or
      c) HR people have a pre-disposition to see themselves as ‘senior’, even if they are not.
      I’m not sure if any of those conclusions is too comfortable but c) is sad beyond belief (although perfectly credible).

  2. Sir 20 Sep 2017 at 5:06 pm #

    What strategy are the CIPD adopting in order to correct this gender imbalance and attract more males into the profession ? – or is it not perceived as a problem ?

  3. Jim 21 Sep 2017 at 7:50 am #

    Does the CIPD have a strategy for encouraging more men into the profession to redress this imbalance ?

  4. Claire Bliss 21 Sep 2017 at 11:21 am #

    This has been a clear trend in the making for the last few years. HR is now very much a desired field, with a lot of impact – not an accidental career choice!!

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