The power of women in business is undeniable. Companies with a large proportion of women in senior roles anecdotally tend to be the most successful, and insolvency practitioners KSA Group Limited have conducted research that found businesses with female owners are less likely to go bust.
Yet gender inequality is still a problem when it comes to filling leadership positions.
That said, things are improving, says Chris Stappard, the Managing Director at Newcastle based Edward Reed Recruitment, who contacted BforB to share his thoughts about promoting opportunities for female candidates ahead of International Women’s Day, which is on March 8th. We thought we would, in turn, share his observations with our members and guests.
Chris tells us, for example, that on International Women’s Day last year, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy revealed that
- 75% of UK businesses have women in senior positions – an increase from 59% in the previous year.
- And the proportion of female senior management teams had increased from 19% to 22%.
Further improvements are expected to be announced on March 8th, but, says Chris, there is always more that companies could be doing to make senior positions more attractive for female applicants.
He tells us: “First of all, make your job adverts more female friendly.
“Without knowing it, the job adverts you’re putting out – the image and presentation of the company marketing materials – might be deterring women from applying for your vacancies. So, it’s important that you’re putting plenty of thought into every aspect of these, from how they look to the language used.
“For example, if your job ads include images, do you always make sure female interaction or involvement is shown in marketing literature? It might seem like a small thing but, if a woman looks at an advert and sees someone just like them reflected back, they’ll be more likely to engage with it. And, on the other hand, if a company image shows only a group of men in suits, it would surely signal the wrong intent, and convince a potential female applicant that the role isn’t for them.
“It’s also a good idea, initially, to focus on the core competencies an applicant needs to have.”
“We’ve all heard the Hewlett Packard statistic that men apply for a job when they only meet 60 per cent of the requirements, while women will only apply when they meet a hundred per cent of them.
“So, you can make this less of a problem by giving potential applicants less points to check off the list – of course, you’ll still want to give plenty of information, so you only receive enquiries from high-quality candidates. But, by outlining only the most important requirements in the job description, you’ll be far more likely to attract more women.
“My second piece of advice is to use skill-based assessments at the recruitment stage.
“When you’re focusing on hiring more women — and especially when you want more female candidates to apply for senior positions — experts recommend using skill-based assessments, rather than just relying on interviews to give you an idea of who’s going to be best for the job.
“This is because some women often underestimate their abilities when they’re talking about themselves, which might give the impression that they won’t be able to complete certain tasks you put in front of them.
“Previously women were primary carers when it came to their children and senior relatives; the revolution of encouraging women to apply for the top roles, become entrepreneurs, and break the ceiling, are still only at the infancy stage, and the chances are, that many talented candidates are still missing out. Flexible working plans can entice them to commit to a long-term plan of working with a firm.
“This is why it’s often recommended that, when you’re looking to make your workforce more diverse, you offer flexible working to give everyone a healthier and more productive work-life balance.
If a potential candidate feels like a job ad is speaking to them, are confident that they’ll be able to shine in the interview process, and have peace of mind about being able to fully commit to their job, and what is expected, then the making of a successful match is set.
You are well on to a winner!