While there’s no denying that gender stereotypes have been challenged over the years, there’s still plenty more that needs to be done to ensure that men and women are enjoying the same opportunities, equal pay and recognition in the workplace. Even now, there are many roles which are viewed as gender-specific, simply due to past assumptions and prejudices.
For those working in industries which are still heavily male-influenced and looking to attract more female talent, it’s likely that you will need to make some changes first. Even if you do have a diverse mix of employees, the general perception of your business or industry could be limiting your range of prospects. We take a look at what more your business can do to demonstrate your commitment to establishing a diverse workforce and attract female powerhouses to the right roles.
Plenty of businesses are guilty of adding a long list of ‘desirable’ attributes on job adverts, even if many of these aren’t crucial to the role itself. But did you know that by doing this you could be inadvertently discouraging women from applying? Results from the Harvard Business Review showed that while men would apply if they had 60% of the desired attributes, most women would only apply if they met 100% of the criteria. Think about the language you are using and the audience that you are trying to appeal to; using aggressive terms and bold statements could bias your listing.
Many women with families will be attracted to roles which offer flexible working, including flexitime and working from home. If your business offers this already, ensure this is highlighted as a benefit in your recruitment ads. Parents to younger children, in particular, may struggle to find roles which allow them to fit their time around school runs so making it easier to achieve a work-life balance could set your business apart from the crowd.
While development and progression opportunities should be available for any employee, it can be demotivating for women if your senior board is predominantly male. While this isn’t necessarily something you can change in the short term, ensure that your female staff are aware of mentoring programmes and the career opportunities available. Increase the company profile of any female leaders and allow them to present as role models within your business. This includes having female speakers at conferences and representatives at networking events.
Consider your branding and marketing
Think about the perception of your business that you’re putting out through your marketing. Does your website use a particular type of tone of voice which is intended to appeal to a certain demographic? Is your recruitment material supplemented with images of only male workers? Many companies are now looking deeper into what their marketing campaigns are actually saying and make tweaks to ensure they appeal to a wider spectrum of people.
Reach out to younger generations
As we get older, we either consciously or subconsciously develop a set of biases and presumptions about certain industries which have been instilled into us since our school years. By reaching out to younger generations now, you can tackle this issue early, meaning that young people are less likely to dismiss your industry as only being suited to a particular type of person or gender. To do this, you can reach out to schools to run an assembly, hold a talk in a classroom or ask the school to put up targeted marketing materials. Similarly, consider reaching out to relevant colleges and universities.
Balancing an equal workforce isn’t always easy, but the overall payoff will be worth the time and effort spent making it happen.