Fixer: HR gender bias in favour of women is a chronic issue

26 Mar 2020 By PM Editorial

Our department’s ratio is at odds with our workforce meaning we are out of touch – what can I do? 

I’ve worked in HR for two decades in the public and private sectors. We bang on about diversity and inclusion and gender pay gaps, yet every HR department I’ve worked in has had a gender bias of around 70/30 in favour of women. This has become a chronic issue where I now work as the ratio is totally out of kilter with the workforce (construction) and means the HR department is out of touch. Incidentally, I’m a returning mum and we have no policies to encourage and promote people like me. What can I do?

This is an emotive subject. The statistics for HR do raise the controversial issue of gender imbalance. But while the ratios may differ by organisation or industry, I’m drawn to what you’ve said about your current department.

Any HR team worth its salt should be aware it’s all about balance, blend and having a representative workforce able to make appropriate and effective decisions. According to your anecdotal statements, your organisation doesn’t seem to be getting this balance right. If that’s true, I’d be interested to know what the organisation is doing to attract and develop diverse talent, not just in HR but across the business – regardless of the nature of the industry.

Are you able to build a case to support your feelings, referencing employee demographics, exit interview data, recruitment data and diversity monitoring? If you can combine this with your employee satisfaction and engagement data, complemented by qualitative information drawn from internal stakeholder interviews that create a picture of the current culture, it will help any argument you make. 

This will certainly be more compelling for the data-driven at your company and those interested in productivity and effectiveness, especially if your colleagues are not as aware of this blind spot.

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