HR chiefs have admitted that men are favoured over women for the profession's top jobs.
The frank comments follow a Personnel Today poll of nearly 400 people, which revealed that more than half thought men were given an unfair advantage for the best jobs.
Barry Hoffman, HR director at Computacenter, said that HR professionals applying for high-flying positions were often only interviewed by board members, without an HR presence.
He told Personnel Today: "Decision makers are more likely to be men, and are likely to succumb to their sub-conscious bias.
"Generally at interviews there would be an HR director present to raise issues of diversity, different sectors, personality profiles and so on. But often that's not the case when you are appointing an HR director."
Hoffman suggested bringing in someone from an external agency to stop the recruitment process having an "all-male panel without an HR conscience".
Paul Reynolds, HR director at catering firm Elior said even though the profession was dominated by females, their presence was less evident in "higher grade" jobs.
A recent survey of more than 5,000 HR professionals by the Chartered Management Institute and salary data firm Celre found senior male HR directors were earning £50,000 more than women, according to median salaries.
"If you are an HR director or head of function then the pay gap should be nil. I can't think of any rationale for it," Reynolds said.
However, Gillian Hibbard, HR director at Buckinghamshire County Council, said there was more openness around salaries in the public sector.