Progression with gender diversity is painfully slow, but research shows time and time again that companies that have a reasonable gender balance perform better financially. As more and more companies wake up to the notion that it is commercially damaging not to take positive action, here are 6 ways in which you can improve gender diversity for your business:
1. Set targets
Identify your current ratio of male employees to female employees per level, create a break down for each part of the business and set targets to improve. In an ideal world, you would be looking to achieve 50:50 balance across the organisation, but depending on your current status, set realistic targets that will challenge each part of your business to achieve within the next couple of years. And then give responsibility to your business leaders to make it happen. Give these targets prominence and focus. Increasingly your investors, customers and suppliers will be looking at whether you are taking gender diversity seriously.
2. Get creative with your recruitment
It’s not good enough to say ‘but all our applicants are men.’ If you always recruit from the same sources, you will always have the same type of applicants. So vary the job boards and media you use to advertise vacancies, alter who is responsible for making recruitment decisions and try going direct to schools and universities to promote your industry for young women. Traditional interview processes favour male applicants, so review your selection criteria and how this is evidenced.
3. Tackle outdated cultural problems
All the equality policies and well-meaning recruitment programmes in the world aren’t enough to overcome macho workplace cultures. For some men it’s easy to assume we live in a post-sexism society but over half of women report they have suffered some kind of sexual harassment at work, with unwanted sexual jokes and advances being among the most common forms. Make it absolutely clear what is unacceptable and do not tolerate any bad behaviours. Ask yourself ‘what is it like to be a female employee?’ in each part of your organisation.
4. Confront unconscious bias
It’s not just the sexist dinosaurs that stand in the way of diversity; we’re all guilty of subconsciously discriminating from time to time. Who organises meetings? Who takes notes? Who fetches the drinks? Who organises the collections and social events? Who gets to manage the new projects? Who gets a say in the important business decisions? What assumptions are made about who does what in your organisation? Train your managers to recognise and deal with their unconscious biases.
5. Identify future talent
Companies often complain they would struggle to fill board quotas because their company doesn’t have enough female talent ‘in the pipeline’. Actively seek out the best women in your business and mentor them so they are ready to step up when a potential promotion comes up.
6. Be flexible and inclusive
It’s not just women that would like more time to spend with their children but it’s clear that inflexible working arrangements have made it more difficult for most women to get to the top. Ask your staff what works for them and consider equalising paternity and maternity provisions to level the playing field. Flexibility shown when it is most needed tends to be rewarded later with loyalty, commitment and productivity. Make it easy for parents to fit their home life around work by offering flexible working options.
Career-Mums helps you to improve gender diversity throughout your business. Contact us on 0121 717 4728 to discuss your specific challenges.