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over 1 year ago by Cherry Swayne, Head of Sales

Mind The Gap - How To Address Gender Diversity In Your Business

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In 2018 there is a growing wave of momentum around gender equality in the workplace and most organisations have placed gender diversity on their corporate agenda for this year. However, faced with growing talent shortages across nearly all of the UK's sectors, companies are struggling to recruit enough people to satisfy business needs as it is, without the additional challenge of trying to diversify their workforce. As a result, they are becoming increasingly concerned about how to address their declining percentage of female employees. 

As an IT & Technology Recruitment Consultancy we see this problem in companies throughout the technology sector, and it is exacerbated further when those technology teams sit within industries which are renowned for a lack of diversity, such as finance. 

Our clients frequently ask for advice on how they can address their lack of gender diversity, and many are looking for a quick fix to suddenly start seeing more women entering their recruitment process. However, the truth is that this issue needs to be tackled long before the actual recruitment process begins.

In order to have a real impact on attracting more female employees to an organisation, the company needs to address their core values, their working culture and their recruitment process itself, before going out to market.

Here are a five tips and ideas which can help any organisation enhance their employee offering for a diverse workforce.

  1. Would women want to work for your organisation?
  • Make sure you are offering a working environment which women will want to work in. 
  • Start by addressing your office culture and working environment - stamp out any laddish / bullish culture if it exists.
  • Look at where people sit; try to have a diverse mix of people sitting near each other wherever possible. This practice is proven to breed diversity of thought and leads to more creative teams. 
  • If you don't have a formal or agreed flexible working policy then it is best to get one in place before actively going out to recruit. 
  • A flexible working policy will be welcomed by your existing workforce, as well as being very attractive to all prospective employees, gender regardless. Genuine flexible working policies give companies a real competitive edge in the recruitment market, so it will be well worth your time getting this right.
  • Make sure you know which roles could suit a flexible working arrangement and which wouldn't. Make sure all of the Managers / Senior Leaders in the business are bought in to the policy to avoid future problems arising. Also think about how you will interview people differently if they are going to be working remotely, to make sure you are happy that their personality and working style will suit this arrangement. 
  • Finally, you need to address your flexible working comprehensively so that you can answer questions about it from candidates at interview. There is no use saying you offer flexible working on the job advert, and then trying to blag it in an interview when asked what it consists of.  

2. Use feedback from your current employees

  • Perhaps try asking all of your employees to say how likely they would be to recommend your organisation as a good place for women to work.
  • You can do this through an anonymous employee survey or a Net Promoter Score survey.
  • Ask them to give specific feedback around what they think it is like for women to work at the organisation and to give some constructive feedback about what could make it a better place to work.
  • This feedback will allow you to fully understand what your employer proposition is for prospective female employees and you can use this feedback in your job adverts and interview process.
  • Also use the negative feedback to be honest about where you need to improve your employer offering to be a great place for women to work and succeed.
  • Ask the women who are happy, loyal and engaged in the business to perhaps write a case study of their time in the company; how they joined, what their experience has been and how successful they have been.
  • If relevant, have these women involved at some stage in the interview process, and ask them to share their story.

3. Understand how to pitch the job and the organisation so that it will be attractive to women.

  • Rethink how you write your job specifications, and your job adverts.
  • You have probably heard the statistic that women will only apply for a job if they feel they meet 100% of the criteria, whereas men will apply if they feel they met 60%.
  • Most job specifications are a long wishlist of skills & experience, which aren't always essential to being able to carry out the role effectively.
  • As a result, women are not applying for these roles, because they don't meet the extensive list of requirements stated in the job advert, despite the fact they are perfectly capable of doing the job.
  • Perhaps try rewriting your job specifications to be based around what the purpose of the job is, and what the expected outcomes should be within the first 6 months / 12 months.
  • More women will be likely to read the advert and feel confident that they can deliver on these expectations, rather than simply meeting a tick list of skills. 

4. Interview fairly

  • Ensure your interview process is fair, objective and transparent.
  • Before interviewing, decide what the most important criteria for the role are and weight them accordingly.
  • Then create a fair scoring matrix according to those factors so that decisions are made on ability, experience and prospects and not as strongly around "culture" or "team fit". 
  • This will lead you to making objective decisions about candidates which are not lead by any conscious or unconscious bias. 
  • If it is suitable and relevant to have female employees involved in the interview process, then I would recommend it, firstly as women will immediately see the organisation as somewhere women work, and so that they can tell their story about what their employee experience has been. 

5. Think outside the box on where to go to find candidates.

  • Only partner with organisations who take this issue seriously and who will go the extra mile to help you find the best female talent for your roles to offer you a broader range of suitable candidates to choose from.
  • Select a recruitment consultancy who is equally passionate about gender parity, and diversity in general, who will help to drive a diverse pipeline of candidates. 

If diversity is something which is important to you and your organisation then I would also urge you to look at Project Include, an organisation set up specifically to help technology companies build truly diverse and inclusive teams: www.projectinclude.org

DP Connect is proud to be a gender diverse organisation with fantastic flexible working policies, and strong female representation at senior level. If you would like to talk in more detail about how we can help you amend your recruitment process to attract a more diverse pool of candidates then please don't hesitate to contact us on 0208 466 5666.