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Are CEOs of Startups Destined to Hire Inexperienced Blonde Women as Their First HR Director?

That's a powder-keg of a title, right?  Wasn't me - actually picked this topic up from this post at Up and Down The Escalator.  Check out the core of the post:

“we have to get the business to want HR to deliver and know what to ask for. Too many CEO’s still Cardhire young blonde girls into HRM/HRD roles because they don’t have the experience to challenge them.”

Now I know this is a provocative statement. And of course, it is also a sweeping generalization – actually, many of them are brunettes.

But in a country the size of New Zealand where many people find themselves in sole charge HR positions in small to medium sized businesses, there is more than a grain of truth here. I have seen a few junior colleagues over the years go off into sole charge roles, working for a CEO or CFO when they are still a little wet behind the ears and perhaps have only a year or two of experience."

So, what about it?  Do startup CEO's tend to hire young, attractive women who can't cut it in HR due to the fact they don't want to be challenged?

There's quite a bit to explore in that assumption.  I'd say if this is anything close to the reality, it's primarily due to 3 factors:

1. The HR world has more women than men, so women are absoultely going to land in roles as the first HR Director at startups more than men.

2. People with less experience get hired more at startups, especially in areas like HR.  That has as much to do with the budget available as it does the fact that founders/CEOs of small to medium sized businesses don't want to be challenged.

3. If young women naturally get plugged into these roles via the realities outlined in point #1 and #2 above, it stands to reason that attractiveness will follow.  After all, one of the biggest biases out there is to default to hiring the most attractive person.  We're cavemen and cavewomen. So much so, one of the best things I ever wrote was a whitepaper called "Hire More Ugly People", which says we all need to get our #### together related to hiring for the actual KSAs and behaviors needed, rather than who looks most like a model.

I like the provocative nature of the assumption that young attractive females get hired for first time HR leadership roles at startups more than any other group.

And as the minority in HR (no longer young in absolute terms, a dude), I'm the perfect person to analyze the trend.

Well, almost the perfect person.  Being as attractive as I am probably clouds my vision a bit. (LOL)



I've worked for startup medical tech for the last 15 years and found: Startup Founders/CEOs tend to hire people they can easily manipulate who are often not qualified for the position. This creates a dynamic where the underqualified employee is grateful for the opportunity and will overlook when the Founder/CEO asks the employee to do something unethical or illegal. Not just HR but everything from VP of Sales on down the line.

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