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International Women’s Day – Recruiters can lead the way on diversity and inclusion

From business to politics, more leaders are beginning to wake up to the importance of diversifying in the workplace as well as promoting gender equality in order to increase the sharing of different ideas, qualities and skills within a collective. But where does recruitment rank in terms of equal opportunities for women in the industry?

According to research carried out by Sue O’Brien, the CEO of global recruitment firm Norman Broadbent, it can often take 8 phone calls to persuade a woman to apply for a job – compared to just 2 calls to prompt a man into putting himself forward for a role. Studies show that women are also far less likely to put themselves forward for a promotion until they feel they have adequate experience for the role, whereas men are more likely to presume they have the right skills for a more senior position.

So how do we tackle this diversity crisis? How can we, as individuals in the recruitment industry, alter our sourcing and recruitment methods accordingly to ensure workplace diversity becomes uniformed across all businesses in the not too distant future?

Firstly, companies need to realise that having a ‘desire’ to recruit more women and actually recruiting more women are two completely different things. Even if a company’s HR program, directors board and hiring team all agree there needs to be more female hires within the business, certain legal issues will then come into play.

Companies cannot simply ‘reserve spots’ in their internal hiring strategy for women and deny jobs to men. No matter how much you’d like to balance the scales during the employee selection process, you can’t reject an overqualified man in order to hire an under-qualified woman. That’s a fact of the employment industry. But what you can do is take steps to ensure that you attract more high-quality female candidates through the sourcing and recruiting efforts you decide to implement. When you improve those efforts, the number of working women at your company will naturally increase.

With this in mind, we have put together some steps which recruiters (and yourself) can follow to ensure diversity in the workplace continues (and improves).

Create a united front

Ensure that your internal hiring team, HR function and senior leaders within the business are all taught the importance of recruiting women in the workplace. Explain how their input is valuable to the organisation and where their contribution sits aligned with the company’s goals/targets.

You’ve got the key decision makers on board – great, that’s the hard part over with. Now you need to work hard to ensure they are advocates for this topic, encouraging them to spread the word both internally AND externally.

Make sure your job adverts are ‘women friendly’’

You should be doing this anyway, but it doesn’t hurt to go over your existing adverts to make sure they are ‘female friendly’ and portray your company culture in the right way. Don’t presume that just because you advertise a cool atmosphere, beer pong Fridays and pool tables that this will attract the best talent. By doing this you risk cutting out a significant number of applicants, most probably women who would be a perfect fit for the position.

Ask yourself, or better still, ask your colleagues what women look for in a new position. That way you can ensure you include points that they too will benefit from.

Promote current female employees and success stories

Testimonials, case studies and reviews work – FACT. Take the likes of Trip Advisor, Glassdoor and Trustpilot for example. These sites are ‘go – tos’ for pretty much the entire planet when it comes to trying before you buy. Encourage your internal recruitment team to sell these success stories to attract top talent into your business. Use them at assessment days and include them on your website for the whole world to see, after all, it never hurt anyone showing off diversity within the workplace.

When women are represented in the highest levels of your company, other talented women will notice. Most women appreciate having female colleagues, and if the opportunity to socialise with other women, and be mentored by more senior women is available at your company, recruiting star female candidates becomes much easier.

So, with these tips in mind and in line with International Women’s Day this week, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves, “hell yeah we’re great”, and remember that talented and qualified women are everywhere, and if your company’s hiring practices don’t reflect that reality, it’s time to change the way you go about recruiting.