A survey of women in IT has found that HR departments are less supportive to women than line managers and colleagues. The survey, carried out last year by Microsoft and online career and networking portal womenintechnology.co.uk, found that when asked to rate the support they received as a female employee, respondents saw HR departments as the least supportive area with only 39% rating them as good or excellent. This compares poorly with other groups such as line management (47%); direct boss (57%); colleagues (60%) and juniors (51%).
Over a quarter of respondents (28%) rated HR departments less than ‘ok’ as opposed to 19% for line managers and bosses; 11% for colleagues and 17% for juniors.
Traditionally, HR departments have been instrumental in devising and implementing quality retention initiatives but according to the survey, it seems that resources have not always been spread equally:
“A lot of effort goes into training graduates, none into refreshing women returners skills” said one respondent” while another commented: “Although my company supplied a basketball court, they didn’t supply a crèche. When the issue was raised at a company meeting, it was not well received.”
While childcare is obviously an issue, the responses showed no significant deviation attributable to caring responsibilities.
Commenting on the results, Maggie Berry, Director of womenintechnology.co.uk said: “It’s all very well for HR departments to have diversity policies in place but this has to be more than just ticking boxes. Almost two thirds of respondents to our survey claimed that the
content of a prospective employer’s diversity policy would be an ‘important factor’ in their decision whether to join.”
However, Berry is keen to point out that women don’t want special treatment – far from it. “Obviously all parents should have access to flexible working and other benefits, but what came out of some of the comments in our survey was that there is a perception that women who take advantage of these policies or benefits would be seen as ‘weak’. Consequently HR departments need to adopt a universal approach and encourage more male uptake which would avoid damaging women’s’ ‘brand’ within an organisation.”