Corporations which genuinely want to increase the number of women in their workforce need to introspect as to what blocks their way—is there a bias against women or is it lack of qualified candidates? They also have to think about how they would overcome systemic limitations. In times of mergers, acquisitions, and downsizing, corporate policies need to protect women from insensitive treatment by a male-biased corporate culture.
For that to happen, the HR leaders in organizations may consider the following:
- Communicate recruitment opportunities and selection criteria transparently.
- Reconsider the composition of recruitment selection teams; include at least one female member on panels where subconscious bias can affect decision making.
- Encourage women to communicate interest in and apply for leadership positions.
- Identify the motivational factors that drive employees early in the recruitment process. Understanding what candidates want out of their careers during job interviews will allow hiring managers to better assess the resources and training required to help empower them within the organization. This may lead to a lower attrition rate and better employee satisfaction.
- Set performance targets for female retention, promotion, and leadership development improvements, with clear personal and team accountabilities.
- Commit to including a target number of female candidates for each leadership appointment.
- Monitor performance on intended advancements. Are set guidelines being followed and producing results?
- Finally, employers reinforce social norms through their policies and practices and they can change social norms through the same mechanisms. HR practitioners need to be mindful of these dynamics when examining the hiring and compensation policies. Awareness and fair policies can assist in making better meritorious recruitment decisions, with the help of objective tools and techniques. But it does require a constant vigilance over systems, processes, and organizational mindsets.
Creative recruitment techniques executed with women in mind will also help attract more women. Tapping into women’s networks and using positive role models to give speeches at schools and universities will help to encourage more women to enter the corporate sector.