10 Best Practices for Attracting and Retaining Female Talent
As a founder of Fairygodboss, I have heard from a lot of women about their workplace experiences. As you can imagine, their stories include the good, the bad, and the ugly.
For the past two years, we’ve provided a free and safe platform for women to authentically share their workplace experiences. Hundreds of thousands of women in the Fairygodboss community have anonymously provided employee reviews as well as advice to each other about what their jobs are like and opinions about whether their employers support women through equal pay, good work-life balance, and a fair shot at promotion. As a consequence, we’ve amassed a tremendous amount of unique, proprietary data and job reviews, which allows us to understand what women experience — and want — in their jobs and careers.
While most employers I speak to have a sense that they can make improvements when it comes to recruiting and retaining women, these are the top 10 areas I believe that the best companies for women are focusing on:
If you think that women and men look for work in the same way, think again. Our research suggests that women are more likely to use job reviews and rely on personal relationships to find employer information as well as secure new jobs. They are less likely than men to use certain mainstream recruiting sites, which makes female talent more difficult to reach.
Broadcast Your Benefits, Culture & Policies
Most employees value transparency, but there are certain benefits and cultural issues in particular that are stigmatizing to ask about. Therefore, don’t make women choose between getting information about things like work flexibility and maternity leave and having to face the potential stigma of simply asking.
Examine Your Pay Practices
Women in the workplace tell us they are very aware of and concerned about the gender pay gap. Even if you cannot commit to a full-fledged compensation audit across your entire firm, you should set practices into place that encourage consistent compensation across job titles.
Prioritize Gender Diversity, Particularly Among Management
Fairygodboss data proves — perhaps unsurprisingly — that there is a clear correlation between women’s job satisfaction and diverse management teams. In other words, diverse management ranks are essential to showing that a company takes gender equality seriously. So take some time to consider whether your management team composition reflects your culture and priorities.
Ensure Your Company is Promoting Women Fairly
According to Fairygodboss members, unequal promotion is the top area in which they observe gender inequity in their organizations. Some of the reasons behind this concern are expressed as unequal access to sponsors, unfair evaluation standards, and “boys’ club” mentality among leadership. Be self-conscious about whether these things are happening at your firm and address these practices.
Improve Your Maternity & Parental Leave policies
Women with young children have the lowest labor force participation rates. To increase the likelihood that mid-level women of childbearing age return to and stay with your company after maternity leave, consider improving your benefits. Make sure you understand how your company’s leave policies compare to competitors’. Fairygodboss has crowdsourced a maternity leave database that helps not only female job-seekers, but also companies looking to be competitive with their benefits.
Formalize Flexibility & Work-Life Balance Policies
The manager-dependent “mother-may-I” approach to flexibility works for some…until it doesn’t. Examine whether there is a good reason not to have a formal and transparent flexibility policy, even if there have to be differences between departments. A well-articulated flexibility policy can be a real asset to employers looking to recruit the best talent interested in clarity about whether they can achieve the work-life balance they want.
Encourage Mentorship & Sponsorship of Women
Women consistently report less access to senior leadership. Consider formal programs or other options to build an infrastructure to support, mentor and sponsor women at your company.
Lead the Way with Bold Steps
Companies are making real change by demanding greater diversity from their vendors, performing compensation audits and engaging in unconscious bias training for hiring managers. Your leadership stance on gender diversity issues can make a difference — not just to your own employees, but to your employer brand.
Engage Men as Allies & Draw them Into the Conversation
Although most men support gender diversity in the workplace, they are often unaware of bias or discrimination when it takes place. More direct and honest conversations between men and their female peers and direct reports can lead to greater sensitivity and more effective partnership.
Georgene Huang is obsessed with improving the workplace for women. She is CEO and co-founder of Fairygodboss, a marketplace where ambitious women meet employers who care about gender equality and share career advice and the inside scoop on their jobs. She previously led the Enterprise business and product development team at Dow Jones (comprising Factiva, Dow Jones Newswires, Venturesource and Risk & Compliance). Prior to that, she was a Managing Director of Bloomberg Ventures, where she helped create and operate three new start-up businesses in the education, events, and information services industries for Bloomberg LP. She holds a degree in Economics from Cornell University, and a J.D. from Stanford.