What does a typical HRD look like today?
She is a woman in her 40s or early 50s – 64 per cent of HRDs are women, which shows that HR is one of the few professions where women aren’t struggling against gender bias. She has worked long and hard to get where she is – 59 per cent of HRDs have more than 16 years experience and a quarter have spent between 11 and 15 years working in HR.
A large proportion, however, didn’t start off in the profession. Only 32 per cent have always worked in HR. This is quite different from, say, the career trajectory of a CFO, where the majority have always worked in finance.
How important are tertiary qualifications?
This is most likely the question on the lips of anyone contemplating moving into HR, or at the beginning of their career.
While the majority of HRDs have a bachelor degree, only a quarter hold a specific HR degree while another 25 per cent have degrees in commerce, economics, finance or business. To get ahead, further qualifications appear to be pretty essential. A postgraduate diploma, often in HR has been achieved by 35 per cent and 27 per cent hold a Masters degree. There are also 44 per cent who hold additional HR qualifications or certifications, in recognition of the growing demand for professionalisation of HR.
“The majority feel they have gained an understanding of different cultures and business practices and have overcome unfamiliar challenges. It has also made HRDs more aware of what people go through when change takes place and they are required to adapt to new ways of operating,” says the report.
Ian Cormack, HR Director at Woolworths Food Group (Australia), was one of these. He recalls an occasion when he was in Spain and was the only person in a meeting who couldn’t speak the local language. Of this experience he says, “It gives you a different perspective of people who aren’t included and are on the fringe.”
But what do all these senior figures say is the most important skill for an HRD to possess?
The most crucial, according to more than half, is stakeholder engagement with commercial acumen a close second. An ability to plan strategically came in not far behind those two.
Ann Marie Chivers, HR Director ANZ at Goodyear Dunlop Tyres (Australia), says: “You have two key stakeholders, the business and the people you represent. You must find a way to balance those needs.”
No disrespect to accountants, but balancing the books seems an easy task compared to the balancing act HRDs are required to perform in the modern workplace.
As the people management task becomes a bigger and bigger focus for organisations to get right, so the responsibility for HR professionals to be the best they can be, becomes more urgent.
Join us at the “Leading Strategic HR Transformation” workshop in Johannesburg (10th – 12th May, 2017)