Is boardroom door still closed to HR?

HR directors are still struggling to make an impact on board decisions and
sex discrimination is still a significant barrier to women progressing to the
most senior roles in the profession.

A survey of nearly 300 HR directors by Richmond Events’ HR Forum, revealed
exclusively to Personnel Today, shows that 52 per cent of HR directors believe
they have only a limited influence on board decisions and 8 per cent report
they have no influence at all.

Nearly 60 per cent of HR directors do not think their board presents a
compelling vision of the organisation’s future.

Chris Hayward, project manager for the HR Forum, said the survey results
show that HR still needs to prove its value to the company bosses.

"It is clear from our findings that the HR profession still has a long
way to go before it influences the boardroom in the way that it seeks," he
said.

But Martin Hinchliffe, HR director for Welcome Break, is surprised that such
a high proportion of HR directors believe their influence on board decisions is
limited.

"HR needs to be a key link between the chief executive and the board’s
goals and ambitions and customer needs," he said.

"In a labour-intensive business it is important HR has a strong voice
at a very senior level."

The survey also finds that nearly half of HR directors believe women still
come up against a glass ceiling beyond which it is difficult to progress.

Clare Hannah, head of HR at First Great Western, believes that gender
discrimination in the HR profession is being eroded, but she also stressed that
it is much easier for women without children to progress to the most senior
levels.

"Women need to recognise that they have earned their position and they
are worth as much as men, so they should not be afraid of asking for it,"
she said.

Most HR directors think they receive an adequate salary for the work they
do, with male respondents expecting average salaries of £118,300 in three years
time and women anticipating salaries of £96,400.

By Ben Wilmott

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