In other words, this is a tricky subject, so let’s set some instant guidelines. We are obviously not going to answer either “yes” or “no”, but are looking to encourage a debate, therefore we would welcome your comments about this posting.

Why would women make better HR managers than men? Well, many have said, it’s all about empathy. This is described as having the capacity to understand what another is experiencing from within their frame of reference. Colloquially, often likened to: “Placing oneself in another’s shoes”. Does this then apply in everything from hobnail boots to kitten heels?

It certainly does bring to mind the old saying that: “To walk in someone else’s shoes you must first take off your own”. Playing devil’s advocate for a moment, is it possible to have too much empathy? Viewers of legendary sitcom Fawlty Towers may remember the formidable Sybil on her many phone calls to friends repeatedly saying: “I know… oh I know…” However, nothing much seemed to come of this!

Therefore, a degree of empathy should surely be married to a willingness to take the necessary action, even if this is unpopular. So, is this the point where a man takes over? Remember, we’re playing devil’s advocate here! Perhaps, every HR manager should in reality be a duo, one holding the box of handkerchiefs, the other holding open the exit door.

Enough of the lazy stereotypes and embarrassing caricatures. Surely, the real question to ask is about the key qualities, skills and talents any Human Resources manager should bring to the role, irrespective of age, background, gender and any of the other pitfalls that cause many an employment dispute. Such areas are likely to include: organisational skills, prioritising and multi-tasking abilities, the ability to communicate and negotiate at all levels, manage change and handle conflict situations.

To this extent, no different from any other manager then? However, let’s add a couple more points for your consideration. Perhaps, the HR manager is your company’s conscience, or is that police officer, sometimes even having to judge or rein in the actions of senior management! Add an ability to assess those “awkward” situations when it might be discrimination or not, when has encouragement turned into harassment? Complete this with wise judgement about when outside professional opinions are needed.

How is the view from where you stand?

Many might say that having a strong, empathetic and effective HR manager, of whichever sex, included as a key element of your management team, is actually one of the most formidable employee benefits any organisation can offer. Here at Paycare, we’d even liken it to a sound corporate health insurance plan – but then we would!

So, what say you?