HR needs to develop a business-focused image

Our coverage of women in work continues this week with a look at the opportunities and challenges facing senior women executives. This is a particularly acute debate considering HR is a profession dominated by women.

Sharon Mavin, research director at Newcastle Business School, argues that it is time to challenge assumptions around solidarity and sisterhood, whereby it’s assumed women will either support each other to get into senior positions or behave so badly to each other that they don’t deserve it.

Fitting into a senior executive role, she argues, means facing up to many contradictions that are simply not an issue for male counterparts.

This debate is further expanded in our roundtable discussion, in which eight senior HR and talent managers discuss the challenges facing high-ranking women climbing the career ladder.

Perceptions of women as nurturers feed into the people-caring image of HR and they have become entwined. As 70% of HR professionals are women, it is easy to see how this image is perpetuated.

Surely, the foundation for change is developing a business-focused image, based on an understanding of business drivers? And the agents of change are those men and women in HR who are challenging the history and stereotypes.

It is up to the profession as a whole to become more business-focused, and for the likes of those quoted in this week’s issue to continue to have a voice, be listened to and to affect change.

Shortlisted teams announced

This week, we start the build up to the 2006 Personnel Today Awards on 23 November. The judges have worked through the vast number of entries and have now selected a record number of shortlisted teams. Over the next 12 weeks, we will showcase these teams, who are some of the very best in HR.

Awards 2006: HR Impact Award shortlist

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