How to attract and recruit a more gender diverse team

Companies in male-dominated industries – like banking, energy, technology and manufacturing – need to change the way they recruit female employees if they want to meet gender diversity targets.

gender diversity


Most organisations have gender diversity targets they want to meet – 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.

That’s why despite the fact that 59% of all graduates are women, only 42% of graduates joining the Association of Graduate Recruiters programmes in 2015 were female.

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

We’ve recently worked with ING Wholesale Banking and advised them to change the wording on an advert and to target final year students at specific universities about their graduate programme. They also 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.

Here are some of the areas I think companies who are looking to attract women should consider:

– 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 60%. 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 Thatcher is principal consultant at Thatcher Consulting.

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