Male dominated industries must woo women into roles

Male dominated industries must woo women into roles - Recruiting Women (F)
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Companies in male-dominated industries – like banking, energy, technology and manufacturing – need to change the way they are recruiting women employees if they want to meet diversity targets.

Most organisations now have diversity targets – particularly given the Petersen Institute and EY’s recent research revealing significant correlation between women in leadership and company profitability. But many organisations are making fundamental flaws when trying to recruit female employees.

Most senior women who are juggling families and work are not scouring adverts and job boards for a new opportunity – the perceived risk of a move is just too high, if you have your commute and childcare organised like a military operation. I talk from experience. Companies therefore need to reach out to their prospective candidate base and sell the firm and the opportunity. This is why the more traditional recruitment strategy of headhunting can be far more effective in attracting female candidates, as opposed to expecting them to respond to advertising.

This approach helped ING Wholesale Banking see an increase of 38% in the number of female applicants to its 2015/16 Graduate Recruitment Programme, by making its recruitment process more female-friendly. Thatcher Consulting, a specialist diversity consultancy, devised the programme to achieve these changes.

Industry figures confirm this. While 59% of all graduates are women, only 42% of graduates joining the Association of Graduate Recruiters programmes in 2015 were female.

By making a few creative changes to the recruitment process, companies can have a positive impact. By changing the language, images and channels used in recruitment advertising, companies can attract more female applicants.

ING Wholesale Banking followed her advice.

‘We’d historically placed adverts on the Russell Group careers websites and generic recruitment sites,’ explains Steven Sinclair, HR Relationship Manager at ING Wholesale Banking.
‘We were advised to change the wording of the advert, we emailed final year female students at specific universities about our graduate programme, and we sent a senior female banker to Queen Mary University of London to speak to students interested in careers in finance.

The results speak for themselves – a 20% general increase in applicants and a 38% increase in female applicants over the previous year.’

Consider the following when trying to attract women:

Language and images in recruitment collateral: Check that job descriptions, adverts and websites are attractive to both sexes. Bear in mind that women typically apply to roles where they match 100% of criteria requests, whereas men apply to 40%. Simple things like including a picture of a woman in the advert makes a role more inviting to women.
Recruitment channels: Choose some of the numerous job boards aimed specifically at marketing flexible roles to women, many of which are far cheaper than traditional print ads in industry titles. Recruiters are paid on commission. There is little incentive for them to put more effort into attracting females to roles, unless companies make it easier for them to do so.
Woo women: Women in senior roles are unlikely to want to move unless there is an obvious incentive. Focus on flexible working and output-based performance, rather than presenteeism. Showcase what female-friendly benefits or facilities there are in the organisation.
Alter the interview process: Interviews often follow a very masculine approach, heavily scheduled, competency-based with little time for a more informal discussion or the chance to ask questions like ‘what’s the culture like here?’ Include current female employees in the interview process to give a female perspective and a more personal touch.

Charlotte ThatcherAbout the author:

Charlotte Thatcher, Thatcher Consulting

Charlotte founded Thatcher Consulting as an extension to an extensive background in recruiting key and senior hires for businesses as both a headhunter and as an in-house practitioner, for companies such as .  She has worked with both start-ups and multi-nationals, such as Whitehead Mann and Morgan Stanley, and is credible at both board level and with line-management across a wide range of industries from banking and financial services, through to retail and oil & gas. Recent clients for diversity consulting are BP, ING Bank and Avantage Reply.  Charlotte’s skills are in quickly understanding and meeting each client’s needs, and in gaining the buy-in and credibility of senior management. She strives to present practical, real-world solutions which can be easily understood, costed, implemented and measured for effectiveness.

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