The Influence of Women in HR

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These days the working world is changing - and fast - though when it comes to women at work, in particular, there’s still a ways to go when it comes to improving gender parity and diversity.

There does, however, seem to be one industry exception where women are maintaining a steady lead ahead of their male counterparts and thus transforming organisations - and that’s the HR industry.

Here, we provide more insight into the influence of women in HR and how women are key to paving the way forward to better, more successful businesses in the future.

coffee break

Women in HR

Even before the pandemic, organisations were changing their working models and, subsequently, how they managed their employees.

Fast forward to present day, and that’s still happening - with female HR professionals leading the way.

In fact, according to Namely’s HR Careers Report, 71% of HR professionals are female, and while these numbers start to dwindle at the C-suite level, women are still left with the employment edge in comparison to men in the HR industry.

However, while COVID-19 had a less than ideal impact on everyone, its effect on women was particularly immense as many reports suggest that due to the pandemic, the fight for gender equality at work - and in life - has had significant setbacks.

So how do women in HR continue the fight for gender equality and diversity in their organisations and across other industries moving forward?

Below, we discuss further.

working women

How HR Can Support Women 

While the lack of gender balance in virtually every industry is a problem that we’re not sure can ever be solved, there are still ways that HR leaders can support women at work.

A few ways to do this include:

Being More Aware of Gender Bias 

Gender bias is a form of unconscious bias that occurs when a person attributes certain attitudes or stereotypes to another person or a group of people, ultimately affecting how this person understands and interacts with others.

In today’s society, however, we often see gender biases most prominently within professional settings with the prejudices set against women, in particular.

These prejudices can be seen in a number of ways, such as:

  • Performance support bias: where resources and opportunities at work are more often provided to men.
  • Performance review bias: when employers review an employee of one gender more favourably, even if the review is merit-based.
  • ‘The Glass Ceiling’ bias: ‘breaking the glass ceiling’ is a metaphor for the inherent hierarchical obstacle that prevents women (and minorities) from achieving enhanced professional success (i.e. senior level and C-suite roles).

To further illustrate this point, it’s been reported that half of men think that women are well-represented in their organisation, even with 90% of senior leaders being male.

To this end, HR needs to work harder to create more opportunities and resources that are specifically directed at women to help close the enormous gender gap, including supporting women’s initiatives and events to empower female talent. 

woman at work

Understanding a Woman's Experience at Work 

Over the last two years, many employees have found themselves at a crossroads when it comes to what they’re willing to put up with from their employer as we navigated the difficult circumstances that the pandemic brought on.

For women, the most positive thing to come out of COVID-19 was the added flexibility they received at home when many of their organisations implemented remote working models when strict rules and restrictions were in place. However, now that things are slowly getting back to normal, working women and mothers are realising that they aren’t willing to give up the flexibility they got used to during the pandemic to come back into the office full-time.

In fact, 46% of women in the UK are reconsidering their career paths based strictly on this notion, showcasing how important a work-life balance is for female working professionals

That being said, HR leaders need to encourage organisations to implement more flexible working models on a permanent basis to avoid losing their top female talent to those organisations already embracing remote and hybrid working.

This brings us to our last point…


Focusing on Attraction & Retention 

The best way HR can support women in the workplace is to focus on attracting the best female talent while also retaining their current talent. This includes

  • Hiring and promoting from within the organisation where roles are compatible with the right female candidates.
  • Developing leadership and training programmes that provide equal opportunity initiatives for men and women alike.
  • Implementing female-focused rewards and benefits.
  • Offering remote and hybrid working options for better work-life balance.
  • Promoting an inclusive work culture, even if it’s remote, so that female employees still achieve the visibility and credit they need to excel.
  • Implementing a gender-neutral recruitment process.
  • Offering competitive and fair salaries for roles offered, and
  • Developing a diverse pipeline of potential employee candidates.

When HR teams - in alignment with C-suite and L&D teams - work to create a workplace that promotes gender equality and diversity, they’ll naturally create a better work environment that women want to be a part of.

women at work

In conclusion, to create a well-deserved upward trajectory for women in the workplace, HR needs to keep the above points in mind. This way we’ll begin to see significant improvements in gender equality and diversity in organisations and finally get on track again after a long and idle two years.

Want to learn how to attract and retain female talent and influence the future of your organisation? Enrol on a professional CIPD HR qualification with us today to get started.

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