Women and the Recruitment Process

We know that companies that proactively recruit and hire women are more successful, but could your process be preventing you from reaching the best candidates? Here are 7 tips to help you recruit women the best way.

Women are more unlikely to be pro-active in applying for internal promotions than their male colleagues. They also take longer to entice into an executive search process, so it’s hardly surprising that there are fewer women in senior roles. What can in-house HR teams do to improve the results for sourcing and attracting female talent? The first steps will be to reassess your recruitment process to reach a greater number of potential female candidates.

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How to source, attract and recruit women

#1 Make gender balanced short lists company policy

To recruit more women, a simple step is to formally increase the number of women on corporate short lists.  It should be officially integrated into company policy and communicated to all players in the recruitment process. Some organizations are now setting KPIs around specific targets. All involved should be encouraged to spread this vision in their female networks. If possible organisations should incorporate the goal into a mission statement in the public domain such as the web site and social media.  Companies should include stories of credible employees who have been through the process to highlight the success of the process and to act as role models.

Read: How affinity bias impacts the recruitment process

#2 Create gender neutral adverts

Knowing that women will apply if they meet 90% of the job specifications, it’s important to keep job profiles real. No your intern doesn’t need an MBA! Companies need to de-code male styled adverts and make them gender neutral. Research shows that gender balanced ads do not discourage men, but do attract women. So make sure there is a clear distinction between key and desirable skills. Run your ad through one of the apps that will advise you about language choice. I use Textio and Kat Matfield  Gender De-Coder .  Swapping out “exceptional” for “extraordinary” is statistically proven to attract more female applicants

Read: Your gender balanced recruitment checklist

#3 Be clear about benefits

The benefits that women look for should be clearly stated. They will be more interested in remote working, flex and childcare, maternity benefits and concierge services, than they will about free bar on a Friday night. To successfully recruit women spell out the advantages up front without them having to ask. It’s easier for you  – the hiring manager.

Read: Changes in recruitment means you should too

#4 Unconscious bias training

Anyone who is involved in the recruitment process should have unconscious bias training. Every effort should be made to build a culture where it is acceptable to call out unconscious bias. I would go as far to say that if a hiring manager hasn’t had unconscious bias training then he/she should not be involved in the process.

#5 Fish where there are fish

Many recruiters, both external and in-house shoot for low hanging fruit on LinkedIn. It’s quick and easy. But it’s also lazy and will not get the best results.  It is likely that a normal search string will not show a high number of female candidates, as a lower percentage of women have complete profiles on LinkedIn than their male counterparts. They have shorter summaries and list fewer skills. It’s key to source female applicants where they are likely to be found. If a company usually taps into a specific university where female enrolment is low – don’t keep going back there. Instead, recruiting efforts should be focused on the places where women are easily reached. Recruiters should be encouraged to tap into women’s organizations and women’s employment websites.  They should search job boards and career fairs at women’s universities and colleges.  Women’s groups on LinkedIn and Facebook need to be a major target. Professional associations have women’s chapters and increasingly there are alumni groups specifically for women. Go there.

Read: Tougher measures needed to promote inclusive recruitment

#6 Gender balanced short lists

It’s important to have at least 3 female candidates on the short list to avoid the sure-fire rejection of the token single woman.

#7 Showcase successful women

Companies that promote the success of women can take pride in highlighting the women in senior roles in their organizations. As social proofing of employment conditions for women is becoming more widespread and toxic corporate cultures are exposed, it’s important for companies to be squeaky clean. A zero tolerance of sexual harassment or even benevolent sexism is an important policy to declare.

As companies begin to understand the gender dividend the competition for top female talent is only going to increase. It’s important that they have their processes adjusted to recruit women.

Contact us for information on our Executive Search services to reach women candidates. 

Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
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