With reports showing that female employees contribute more to the workplace than their male counterparts, it’s no wonder that many companies are looking to further diversify their workforces and hire more women.
However, this can be more difficult than expected. With hidden biases and different hiring obstacles for women, the path to true gender equality is marred with potential pitfalls. Amazon had to scrap their AI hiring project when they realized it was discriminating against women. Furthermore, Facebook has recently come under fire for allowing employers to discriminate in their job postings.
Here are some strategies for recruiting women, and for retaining them after you hire them:
Offer flexible schedules and sufficient paid time off
Women often find themselves balancing their careers with their personal lives, especially their families. Therefore they tend to look for opportunities in which they have some say in regards to when they work and where they work and for how long they work, just as long as they complete their work effectively. By offering this flexibility, your company will have a far easier time both hiring and retaining female workers.
Likewise, women also often seek positions in which they receive considerable vacation time and have flexibility in terms of when they can take it. By offering too little vacation time, you could be hamstringing your company’s efforts to hire more women.
Provide equal opportunities for men and women and equal pay
Women want to have the same career opportunities as their male counterparts throughout the organizational hierarchy. Furthermore, they want to see this equality in action and not just hear it in words. If they see too few women in upper management, for example, they may well be hesitant to take a position in lower management, fearing that they may just be stuck there for good.
Not surprisingly, women also want to be paid equally to men and receive a benefits package that is at least equal to theirs. Even today, women on average receive salaries that are around 85% of what males receive doing the same jobs. Companies that fail to pay women equally should expect that they will have trouble both hiring them and retaining them.
Offer a benefits package tailored specifically to women
A great way a company can show that it is serious about hiring and retaining women is to offer a benefits package that has them in mind. Such benefits can include:
- On site daycare facilities and breastfeeding rooms
- Generous maternity leave
- Insurance coverage for family planning, fertility treatments, and prenatal care
Some large high-tech companies, such as Apple and Facebook, have even started offering coverage for freezing eggs. Egg freezing is often an expensive and highly overlooked cost of being a career-driven woman so when a company offers to pay for it, this shows that they value women’s choices and that there is room for long-term growth.
Provide paternity leave
While offering paternity leave does not directly benefit potential female hires, by offering it you are showing them that you are serious about creating a working environment where men and women are really treated equally. This is because they will understand that the benefit helps other women focus on their careers. The fact that offering such leave is usually not mandated by law will only strengthen the perception that your company is actually committed to equality.
Eliminate sexism and sexual harassment from your corporate culture
Almost no company today openly tolerates sexism or sexual harassment. But there is a big difference between creating rules and standards and rigorously enforcing them. If you want to create an environment where women feel welcome, you need to actively weed out any vestige of sexism and make it clear to everyone that there will be zero tolerance of any kind of sexual harassment, regardless of how benign.
It is often said that reputations spread quickly. This is true not only of bad reputations but good ones as well. Let it be known that your company stands up for women and you will be rewarded.
Focus your recruiting efforts on women
If your company wants to hire more women, your company needs to go beyond generic recruiting efforts. Instead of only placing job advertisements on standard job sites, consider placing ads on job sites and mailing lists that specifically cater to women. Also, participate at job fairs at women’s colleges and at local meetups focused on career women.
We would like to thank Chris Barry for this contribution. A freelance writer based in Montreal, Chris writes both first-rate content for businesses and humourous pieces for alternative news weeklies. You’ll find a sampling of his work at looselips.ca.
Author: Ali Neill
As the job board tester and blog editor for the Jobboard Finder, Ali works on job boards from all around the world and keeps a close eye on the recruitment trends thanks to a number of sources, including the website’s social media pages.
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