How to recruit and empower women in the workplace: 7 key things to think about

Women in the workplace empower the whole of your staff - women at work around a table with a laptop

Gender bias still exists today – and for many businesses, so does the gender wage gap. There is no quick fix solution to structural problems like biases toward gender, race or sexuality – but businesses trying to counter the effects of gender bias and diversify their workforce and board often find themselves asking the question: How to recruit more women? 

As employers you have the power to make female workers feel welcomed, included, and supported in your business. To achieve gender inclusivity in the workplace, it’s important to identify what you can do to interrupt unconscious bias and improve hiring practices so that you can achieve gender inclusivity in the workplace.

From gender inclusive hiring practices to mentorship, we explore a few different ways to create a foundation for women to thrive in business and handy tips on how to empower women in the workplace for long-term growth.

Why is empowering women in the workplace important?

Every person, regardless of their gender, race, sexuality, religion or age, should have equal opportunity and fair pay. There are lots of ways that well meaning companies still perpetuate bias and discrimination, and there are specific things that also put women at a disadvantage.

Gender diversity is only one part of creating a diverse and inclusive workplace, we have lots more advice about improving equality, diversity and inclusion overall. 

There are lots of business benefits to an inclusive and diverse workplace:

  1. You’re more likely to attract and retain women and diverse employees – who not only have the skillset but also have alternate perspectives and represent different audiences you want to appeal to.
  2. More diversity means more innovation, more understanding, more empathy and more perspectives – all of which strengthen your business and your products.
  3. A more inclusive and open workplace improves communication and collaboration – as well as increasing productivity and morale.

Use gender-neutral language in job ads

The choice of language used in your job posting can discourage candidates from even applying.

Companies that replace gendered language in their job ads with gender neutral wording see an increase in the number of female candidates applying to positions, increasing and diversifying the talent pools they attract.

A Hewlett Packatt internal report found that “men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them”.

To encourage more women to apply to your job ads, rethink your job descriptions and remove any requirements that aren’t actually needed.

Competitive skill sets – like innovative thinkers or creative problem solvers – might not take the shape that you expect and it’s important to keep an open mind to find the very best person for your role.

Encourage diversity on your board

As employers it’s likely that you’re trying to be as objective as possible when making important decisions in recruitment. However, we’re all subject to unconscious bias and sometimes this influences our hiring decisions at work.

Unconscious bias includes influences such as our background, experiences and environmental conditions – and these can all play a part in shaping our choices, whether we realise it or not. 

As human beings, we all suffer from confirmation bias. We’re most likely to feel comfortable and confident with candidates that are most like ourselves– either in age, style, or gender. This could result in women being excluded from certain job opportunities if the hiring manager and board are predominantly cis male.

Having diversity on your board often helps to encourage new ideas, innovative solutions, and new visions for the company while increasing female representation in Technology sectors.

Consider also taking part in bias training courses, particularly for management, to help identify and interrupt biases and increase inclusivity both in recruitment as well as for the organization overall. This benefits not just gender inclusivity, but the well being of all your employees, current and future.

How to recruit more women in business

In order to fix the female leaky pipeline, it’s important that you find ways on how to recruit more women across all career levels in your business.

A great way is to eliminate a quota mindset and to instead set targets for female retention in the workplace, promotions, and leadership developments. We recommend regularly checking in with your management team to review progress levels.

Another effective way to ensure you hire more female talent is to ask your recruitment team for female candidates to be included in every talent pool for every position for which you are hiring.

In addition, having women in leadership positions in your organisation will help to motivate and inspire other female employees to stay with your business, and to develop with you.

Salt is committed to diversity and inclusion. Our expert consultants can help you build a team that delivers results now and in the future. We can help you find the right talent for your needs.

Offer flexible working

By offering flexible working in your company, new mothers or working mothers are able to keep up with their career aspirations and climb the corporate ladder.

Accommodating the needs of mothers is a great way to empower women in the workplace. This study shows women make up the majority of part-time employment at 38%, compared to that of men at 13%, as caring and parenting responsibilities often fall to them. According to this report co-authored by sociologist Sarah Jane Glynn and child-care-policy expert Katie Hamm, working mothers’ working labour is the reason for “virtually all of the economic gains experienced by the typical middle-class family since 1970.” It’s vital working parents are supported – and in a competitive job market, parents of all genders are likely to move to roles that can support their care needs McKinsey research shows.

According to the Fawcett Society report 2020, “Post-pandemic, we need to move to a new normal which allows workers to adopt a hybrid model of home and workplace flexibility as well as flexing their working hours”. Without catering to their needs at home, employers run the risk of losing valuable skill sets and perspectives when work-life balance isn’t possible to maintain.

By providing flexible work schedules, companies are more likely to retain highly skilled women as it increases employee morale, engagement, productivity, and commitment. When women stay in their roles, they’ll be able to grow in their positions and be strong contributors to the company.

By offering flexible working to all your staff, you will more than likely find an increase in productivity, retention, and general happiness of your employees. The rigid 8.30am – 5.30pm can be extremely difficult to juggle work and family commitments for parents, therefore offering options to accommodate child care will have a positive effect on retaining female talent.

Why female representation is important

Gender inclusivity in the workplace is vital to any business as equal representation of women can have positive effects across all areas.

If you’re wondering why female representation is important in business, a report by McKinsey shows that gender diversity is directly correlated with both profitability and value creation.

Companies that have a higher number of female employees benefit from creative and innovative thinking, enhanced collaboration and problem-solving, improved morale and productivity and even greater profitability.

Encourage a supportive office environment

It’s important to encourage a supportive and positive office environment for all employees. This doesn’t mean beer taps and beanbags!  

Encourage strong policies such as parental leave for employees or ways to encourage open communication and transparency in the workplace.

A great place to start is to consider starting up forums or focus groups for your employees so that they can connect with other like-minded people in a safe space, and feel confident voicing their needs and potential solutions to leaders and HR.

Salt is committed to diversity and inclusion. Our expert consultants can help you build a team that delivers results now and in the future. We can help you find the right talent for your needs.

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