Human Resources (HR) is a field that is known to provide dynamic career opportunities and the authority to make meaningful decisions to support organisations and their employees. However, while HR is a role that is intended to carry the qualities of inclusivity and fairness, women, especially women of colour, often find themselves underrepresented in leadership roles within this industry. That is why this blog post is determined to help women overcome these barriers to success by providing seven empowering methods to excel in HR.
The first step in achieving empowerment is educating yourself. Regardless of whether you are just starting your HR career or are an experienced member looking to advance your career, it is essential that you continue to learn.
Consider the following strategies for a robust level of education:
While you may have achieved your HR role by obtaining a degree in the field, your education does not have to stop there. HR management programs, industrial-organisational psychology courses, or other related fields of study are available to level up your skill set. Additionally, you can enhance your qualifications further by seeking certifications from established organisations such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) or the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI).
You can also take it upon yourself to seek out HR-related workshops, seminars, and conferences in your local area to stay updated on industry trends, best practices, and new regulations. These are often led by HR professionals who have unique insights into the industry. There are also women-led initiatives at these events, directly working to empower the female workforce in HR.
For a flexible learning schedule, you can seek out online courses such as the
Master of Human Resource Management found at UNSW. These courses allow you to balance your education with your career and personal commitments, ensuring that you never fall behind in your current career trajectory.
Directly join a HR organisation or network to find others who are also working to empower themselves. There are women-led associations available that specifically focus on overcoming the unique challenges women have to face in the HR industry. These platforms also provide the opportunity to create your own professional network, share knowledge, and gain mentorship.
Leadership skills are crucial for your success in HR, regardless of your gender. Whether you are managing a team, handling employee relations, or driving organisational change, effective leadership can make a significant difference in your career journey.
As a woman in HR, here is how you can develop your leadership skills:
Knowledge directly from the mouth of an experienced professional is one of the best ways to boost your understanding of HR and gain confidence in your leadership skills. Seek out a professional whose methods align with yours and set up a mentoring relationship. These seasoned professionals can share their experiences, provide insights, and help you navigate the complexities of HR leadership.
Take the initiative to raise your leadership skills by enrolling in a leadership development program. Such a program is designed specifically to enhance your strategic thinking, decision-making, and communication skills.
You can also dedicate time towards attending workshops, which are often a more targeted approach to leadership topics. You can develop further skills in areas such as emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, and team management.
Skills in leadership are not just developed by seeking out outside sources. Making the effort to reflect on your leadership abilities will help you determine what areas you need to improve and what opportunities you can apply your skills to. Self-awareness is an essential aspect of becoming a successful HR leader.
Women in HR have the authority and experience to advocate for inclusivity and diversity in the workplace. With a position of authority, you can promote equality and ensure fair treatment for all employees. To drive these values forward, you should:
Be the change you want to see in the workplace by working internally to promote policies, practices, and a culture that are inclusive and diverse. Build your foundation by advocating for fair recruitment, equal pay, and flexible work arrangements.
Showcase that diversity and inclusion are your passions by joining or leading committees focused on these values. Your knowledge and authority within these committees will help you influence company-wide initiatives and foster a culture of equality.
Take the initiative to create or support training programs focused on educating employees and leaders on diversity, inclusivity, and unconscious bias. By teaching others the necessary skills, you can create a more balanced workplace for all.
Do not hesitate to share your own experiences and insights as a woman in HR. This information is vital for others in the same position, while your perspective can inspire others to engage in diversity and inclusion efforts.
Achieving success is not possible alone. Instead, the opportunities offered by a robust professional network are what allow your HR career to maintain upward momentum and find success. Build your network through these simple steps:
You can connect with professionals from different sectors of the HR field and gain their unique insights by attending networking events. Keep an eye out for the latest HR conferences, industry events, and local meetups for opportunities to meet new people.
You do not have to meet someone in person to gain their knowledge or experience. Social media has become another viable means of engaging with HR professionals and groups, so be sure to check out LinkedIn or Twitter for ongoing conversations.
Technology is a crucial part of the streamlined HR process and can be utilised for increased efficiency by an educated professional. Make yourself a tech-savvy HR employee by educating yourself on how technology can improve your and your company's HR practices. Consider the following:
HR software is available to enhance individual productivity and increase efficiency. Familiarise yourself with the industry's leading software and information systems to remain proficient with relevant technologies.
Alongside the software, it is integral to maintain knowledge of the latest technological trends in HR to remain competitive in the field. Recent trends include artificial intelligence, data analytics, and employee engagement platforms, but there is always more to learn.
Recruitment and employer branding has long since extended to social media platforms, and as an HR professional you must be proficient in leveraging these platforms for your role. You can utilise social media nowadays to not just connect with potential candidates for a job role, but to also build a strong online presence for you and your company.
Negotiation is a crucial skill for any career advancement, but it is an especially important tool for women who want to break through glass ceilings in HR. Here is how to negotiate with confidence as a woman in HR:
Having knowledge of the existing data on industry-standard salaries for your position before entering negotiations can give you the upper hand. You can also try asking those in similar positions around the office about their pay to ensure you are getting fair compensation for your efforts.
If you are entering a pay or position negotiation, you need to be aware that you deserve the role you are fighting for. Confidence is key in negotiations. If you are not naturally assertive, take some time to practise your confidence and prepare your points ahead of time to articulate your value to the organisation.
Surprisingly, not all negotiations are about salary. You can also consider negotiating for non-monetary benefits if you believe they will empower you in the workplace and aid in your career progression. Some benefits to consider include flexible work arrangements, professional development opportunities, or equity incentives.
Empowering yourself in the workplace is what will help you achieve success, but this progress should not come at the expense of your personal life. Learning to balance an HR career with your own well-being may seem difficult, but this balance is what will see you through to healthy long-term success. Consider these strategies:
Be sure to establish with yourself and those you work with clear boundaries, especially between work and personal life. Otherwise, you may experience business overwhelm and find yourself facing major burnout.
A simple way of doing this is to ensure your email notifications are turned off during non-working hours. This will allow you to make time for important things like family, relaxation, and self-care.
Self-care is not a luxury; it's a necessity. Particularly for those women working hard to make a name for themselves in the competitive industry of HR. Try finding a self-care practice that works best for you, such as exercise, mindfulness, and spending time with loved ones to recharge.
If you are struggling, do not hesitate to ask for support from those you can trust. Family, friends, or even professional coaches can help you navigate work-life balance and keep your well-being on track.
Empowering women in HR goes beyond just empty platitudes and discussions of equality. It takes real work, even from the women themselves. By obtaining the necessary knowledge, skills, and confidence to thrive in this dynamic field, women can become the change they want to see in the workplace.
These seven methods are just the beginning of learning how to overcome professional and personal challenges. Empowerment is a continuous learning process, but these foundations are what will allow you to not only feel confident in yourself but also contribute to creating inclusive and equitable workplaces for others.
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