Businesses led by women do more than just tick boxes; they also excel. Chris Stappard, Managing Director at Edward Reed Recruitment, shares his advice for attracting more women to senior positions.
In 2018, a survey found that many women feel ready to move into leadership positions but are afraid to make mistakes (JUMP.eu), likely because they feel more harshly judged than men. The same survey also found that women believe there is bias favouring their male peers in both pay and promotion distribution, so it’s important to consider whether you could be doing more to encourage women to apply for senior roles within your organisation.
Below are my recommendations for attracting more women into senior positions, and why it’s necessary that we do so.
Revamp your company culture
Attracting women into senior positions is about more than just meeting a quota. Building and maintaining an inclusive culture is good for business, as it has been shown that those sorts of work environments can improve innovation, productivity, and communication. Businesses that are gender-diverse even make more money (gallup.com), so there are plenty of reasons to attract women into senior positions.
Task managers and other higher-ups with eliminating excluding behaviour from the workplace, if necessary. This behaviour includes jokes and harassment, as well as discrimination. Creating a female-friendly atmosphere will allow women to do their jobs effectively and feel confident and safe enough to collaborate on projects, as well as progress through the company’s ranks.
It’s also important to show your inclusivity through your website, social media, and other means. Not only will this demonstrate to job-seeking women that you’re a company worth applying for, but you will encourage other companies to do the same and perpetuate equality.
Rethink the hiring process
Women are less likely to apply for jobs if they don’t feel they meet 100% of the criteria (HBR.org). Men, on the other hand, are more likely to ‘wing it’ and apply even if they don’t fulfil all the necessary requirements. A lot of the time, not everything listed in the job description is a deal-breaker so, when writing out the roles and responsibilities for your advertisement, try to focus on the most relevant day-to-day tasks rather than ad-hoc duties. This way, female candidates can feel confident enough to apply.
During the interview process, use women who are already in senior roles at the company as interviewers. They can be an invaluable source of insight into aspects of the working day that male interviewers might not have considered and having more women on the panel of interviewers is less intimidating than subjecting candidates to a purely male panel. Remember to ask all candidates the same questions, regardless of their gender.
Use exercises and tasks that allow candidates to demonstrate their ability to do the job, rather than ask them to tell tales about their education and experience. If certain degrees or certificates are required in order to perform the senior management role, candidates can bring a portfolio as evidence.
Provide the right salary and benefits
Part of attracting the right candidate is looking after the employees that you already have. Employee benefits have much more of an impact now that anyone can post online about how they are treated at work, so it’s important for PR that you get them right.
One of the most pressing issues for working women is the matter of equal pay. Despite campaigns, company efforts, and media attention, women are still paid 11.9% less than men on average (Financial Times). One of the ways you can help eradicate the gender wage gap is to pay your employees based on the market rate, rather than their salary history. That way, you’re not repeating the mistakes of their previous employers.
Flexible working is another extremely attractive prospect for candidates, and more and more companies are recognising the benefits of focussing on performance rather than hours spent in the office. Cloud-based working, part-time hours, or alternatives to the 9 to 5 working day mean that women can work from home or fit work around their personal lives, so their work-life balance is improved, and staff retention is increased.
Using the tips in this guide, you can begin to think about why your company may have struggled to attract women to apply for your senior positions in the past. With my advice, you should be able to encourage more diversity within your business through a change in culture, advertising, and providing the right benefits.