With International Women’s Day just around the corner and the looming mandatory gender pay gap reporting deadline in April, the topic of encouraging female talent in the workforce is more prevalent than ever.
Recent research has revealed that teams that included women were more successful at logical analysis, coordination, planning, and problem-solving, while the Peterson Institute found that 30% female representation on boards could add six percentage points to a company’s margin.
Now that the problem has been acknowledged, companies are now dedicating time and resources to finding solutions, all with the aim of closing the gap and increasing gender diversity. While some may suggest that businesses should simply hire more women, unfortunately, it’s not always that easy. Senior decision makers need to look at their existing workplace culture and start to implement innovative structures, policies, and procedures that make their company a welcoming place to work. Only then will the workplace become one that encourages development and growth.
Here are five ways to encourage the attraction and retention of female staff:
1. Revise benefits packages
In our candidate-led market, building an attractive benefits package is important to attract any candidate. In building a package specifically to attract women, consider what would be appealing – could you introduce childcare subsidies or extended maternity/paternity packages? Perhaps you could investigate flexible working or flexible start and end times to allow for school pickups and drop-offs?
Allowing paid time off for medical procedures such as smear tests and mammograms, or introducing loans for weddings or children could also go a long way.
2. Clear progression paths
A 2017 PwC survey found that female millennials and generation Zs ranked opportunities for career progression as the most attractive employer trait. Considering they are soon to dominate the workforce, having a clear structure in place for career progression is essential. Employers must demonstrate what is possible and ensure that there are pathways to match employees’ skills and ambitions.
When said opportunities arise, every eligible member of staff should be considered equally – there’s no point in offering openings for progression without seeing them through.
3. Install leaders, mentors, and sponsors
When it comes to role models in leadership, the pickings are slim for women. According to EY, just 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 0.3% of FTSE 250 CEOs are female.
Therefore, in order to foster an aspirational mindset, it is worth ensuring there are visible leaders and mentors within a company. Consider establishing a structured mentorship or sponsorship program where those in leadership positions can provide advice, advocate for and generally assist emerging talent. To keep them accountable, introduce incentives for the leaders, ensuring a valuable relationship.
4. Get in front of the right people
Gone are the days where jobs are harder to come by – the nature of the 2018 market means that job seekers can be a lot pickier with the roles they apply for. This also means they are undertaking research into companies, looking for factors that may give one role the edge. Make sure you are at the top of their list by endeavoring to rank on industry lists, such as The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies and Fortune’s 100 Best Workplaces for Women. It’s also worth considering improved incentives for female referrals and re-considering where you are advertising – if you are using an agency, make sure it’s clear you’d like to see candidates of both sexes.
5. Like attracts like: diversify your hiring panel
The law of attraction states that like attracts like. In the recruitment process, this translates to hiring managers hiring people that are like themselves. By introducing different personalities and perspectives into the mix, you’ll not only receive different opinions, but female talent will also be encouraged by the inspirational women sitting across from them.
Make sure you follow the same interview structure as you would an interview with a man, asking all the same questions. This way, you can judge a candidate’s competencies on objective elements and not answers to left-of-center questions. The general rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t ask a man something, don’t ask a woman.
About the author: David Morel is the CEO/Founder of Tiger Recruitment, London’s leading recruitment agency for business, private and virtual support recruitment. David founded Tiger in 2001 and has written extensively in the press and wider media advising both employers and job seekers on best recruitment practice.