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 diversity targets.
The advice comes from diversity specialist Thatcher Consulting who 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.
‘Most organisations have diversity targets they want to meet – particularly given the Petersen Institute and EY’s very recent research revealing significant correlation between women in leadership and company profitability,’ explains Charlotte Thatcher, principal consultant at Thatcher Consulting.‘But many organisations are making fundamental flaws when trying to recruit female employees.’
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.
Thatcher believes 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.’
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.’
Thatcher says that companies need to 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 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.
For more information on Thatcher Consulting, go to www.thatcher-consulting.com