Despite most businesses now understanding the value of diversity to their customer base and bottom line, many employers aren’t doing enough to create the inclusive workforce that underpins the diverse brand image they strive for.
Templeton’s Hiring Diversity Report found that despite 68% of business leaders trying and struggling to recruit diverse skills, 1 in 4 companies are not investing in any D&I initiatives.
At the same time as women’s representation at work is slowly rising, the working conditions and support available for female employees are severely lacking. Insufficient understanding and investment allocated to gender equity are not only preventing women from entering certain career paths and industries – such as the tech industry where only 19% of employees are female – but also damaging women’s training, development, mental health, work/life balance and long-term career success. How can women be sure that their first or next employer will provide equal opportunities and support?
Searching for a new role that fits your career goals and life situation is challenging enough, and for women, assessing the inclusivity of a potential employer can be even trickier. All employers want to be seen as a great place to work, but there are specific hallmarks of those organisations that value gender equity and therefore value and champion their female employees.
Here are four indicators of employers that truly value gender equity (and will therefore provide a more supportive and rewarding workplace for women):
1. Actual practical examples of supporting women
Much like changing corporate logos to rainbow colours in Pride month whilst failing to support LGBTQ+ causes and employees all year round, it’s all too easy to profess to being gender equitable without doing anything to back up this claim. Real organisational allies will be able to show rather than tell. Check company websites, social media profiles, and PR for company networks that help female employees connect and support each other, female-led initiatives and events, funded training and development programmes, and donations to charities that support women. Memberships and charter signatures show intention, but companies that have made a demonstrable difference in the lives of their female employees and female communities will prioritise and invest continually in gender equity.
2. Flexibility means flexibility
Flexibility isn’t simply just hybrid working, but matching working life to the needs of individual employees. Whilst remote and part-time work options are very beneficial for women with parenting and caring responsibilities, remote and part-time workers could benefit from written, asynchronous communication rather than meetings to make the most of their day. The ability to work more during morning/evening hours to follow your own energy levels or personal responsibilities, or take more and differently timed breaks, also significantly benefits women with child or parental caring responsibilities, and women with physical and mental health needs, disabilities, and those who are neurodiverse. The purpose of flexibility is to ensure employees are productive, engaged, and happy, for the best outcome for both employee and business: if corporate ‘flexibility’ isn’t actually flexible, it won’t work for the company or its employees.
3. Employee voices are heard and listened to
When interviewing with a potential employer, ask your interviewers how employees are involved in and influence company policies and ways of working. Anonymous surveys are great for generating feedback, but unless the company actually listens and responds to the feedback, the surveys won’t generate positive change for employees. Companies that value gender equity will also value diversity and inclusion of all groups, placing their employees at the heart of everything they do. Good employers will offer a wide variety of ways that employees can contribute their voices, such as open town hall meetings, anonymous suggestion boxes, focus groups, advisory councils and reverse mentoring, and will also regularly present and respond to employee opinions with positive actions. If your interviewer can provide an example of how female employees’ voices influenced positive change for the female employee base, the company really does value, support and proactively drive gender equity.
4. First-hand positive feedback
The best way to know what it’s like to work somewhere is to ask those who already work there. Reach out to existing female employees on LinkedIn or who might already be in your professional network. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking with potential colleagues directly, find their LinkedIn profiles: have they been at the company for at least a couple of years, ie have they chosen to stay for longer than necessary? Have they been promoted regularly, have they studied any qualifications or courses during their employment (which indicates employer support for L&D), and does their bio contain their work achievements (which indicates they are thriving in their role)? Look out for photos and stories of female employees which will show you the everyday realities of working at this organisation as a woman, and will help you visualise whether you could also enjoy a fun, stimulating, supportive workplace where you could thrive.
About the author
Aimée Treasure is Marketing Director at Templeton and Partners, a majority-female, diverse recruitment agency matching tech professionals to rewarding careers across 40 countries. A former Marketing Week’s Rising Star of the Year, Aimée created Templeton’s Diversity Advisory Council and leads D&I and marketing teams to success.