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Odd Man Out For Better or Worse?

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I know an HR executive who is looking very seriously at an opportunity as a Director of HR Strategy for a large public company.  He would be one of six HR Directors who report directly to the Chief HR Officer.  His role would be to collaborate with each of the other HR Directors in establishing the strategic directions of their respective HR functions (e.g. compensation, benefits, talent acquisition) and influencing change from first generation to next generation HR.  Sounds like a pretty cool role…right?  Well here’s the catch: He’s the only male on the HR leadership team (including the CHRO).

HR men are clearly used to being minorities in their profession.  But I say this is different.  It’s less about getting along with these women than it is about  influencing them.  And I think that would be hard. Who is going to respond favorably to this guy who comes out of nowhere and is essentially charged with bringing success to things they have been historically unsuccessful at (or incapable of)?  Aren’t women more territorial than men in the workplace?  Is that territoriality stronger when one feels threatened?  Aren’t they just plain ole’ cranky? On the other hand, isn’t the female territorial response stronger toward females than males?  Isn’t competition between males and females less intense than it is between like genders?  Is this a ying/yang proposition?  I don’t know ’cause I’m not an industrial psychologist.

And the only ounce of input I can come up with for this guy is that this gender dynamic should not be minimized in his considering the role…it has an impact on him one way or the other. I understand this is a multi-dimensional issue around which you have little context, but take a stab at offering your input: Is this guy crazy to even consider it?  Have you seen this happen before and is that guy still alive (employed)?  Are we making a mountain of a molehill here?  Is there any way for him to assess the risks further?  What other questions does he need answers to?

  • Tammy Colson

    Your friend doesn’t have much to worry about. I’ve worked as the lone female on an all male HR team, and on a team with a lone male. The worst case scenario is that its a bad cultural fit. We are professionals – he needs to be looking at the company, the culture and meeting those people to see if they share philosophy.

    If its the right team, why worry? Would the same concerns be there if it was an all male team? (i’ve broken into those… they can be scary)

    But if the company is “bringing him in to fix it” – well, its not going to get fixed with the same team there, if it hasn’t been “fixed” by now.

    Just my thoughts.

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