4 strategies to attract and retain female talent at your firm
Did you know one in five women say they’re the only woman in the room at work? If you’re like me, unfortunately, you’re not too surprised by this information. Industries like the finance, accounting and tech spaces have been known to have a harder time attracting and retaining female talent. Yet, companies that have a higher percentage of female leadership have been proven to excel. A report released by Credit Suisse states that companies that have women making up at least 15% of senior management are 50% more profitable than those where less than 10% of senior managers are female. So, here are four strategies that will help you attract top female talent to your firm and retain them, too.
Promote gender equality and offer influence
Most organizations have a diversity statement, but some don’t share it. Make your statement visible and promote it regularly. To attract top female talent, you must be willing to take a clear stance and let the public know how serious you are about endorsing gender equality and implementing programs that let women influence the workplace culture. For example, peer-to-peer support initiatives and mentorship programs provide a direct opportunity for women’s voices to be heard and for their decisions to shape company behavior.
Also keep in mind that creating an environment that supports the growth and prosperity of female talent means letting women have a say in designing the company culture – a leading voice. Are you promoting women fairly and putting them in positions where they can make impactful decisions? It’s important that women themselves are granted the agency to implement procedures and processes that suit their needs.
Gender-neutral parental leave
Sure, maternity leave is a thing. However, restricting parental leave to maternity leave alone can still leave women with the short end of the stick. Encouraging paternity leave — or better — a gender-neutral parental leave policy, can even the playing grounds. With gender-neutral parental leave, women don’t have to deal with the stress of worrying whether they will be singled out and blocked from advancement opportunities for taking time off to parent because, after all, their partners will be doing it too. This is a sound way to prove your organization supports women and working families.
It’s one thing to recognize the importance of a healthy work-life balance, it’s another thing to create a system that allows it. Flexible work schedules benefit everyone, not just women or people with children. Allowing flexible work schedules is another way to show your employees you trust them and are giving them autonomy over their work. They’re also another way to support working families because they allow for school visits, after-school program attendance, doctor’s visits etc. Consider formalizing flexibility to prove your overall investment in your employees’ personal happiness.
Another priority when trying to attract and retain top female talent is denouncing sexism and taking actions to eradicate it altogether. Start by examining your pay and promotion practices. Are they fair and equal? Many women leave or switch jobs because they feel stalled in their careers. Prove your commitment to retaining female talent by getting external auditors to examine and approve the fairness of your practices.
Another step to take towards fighting sexism in an organization is to engage and educate male allies. Introduce the concept of unconscious bias and teach your staff how to identify it in order to minimize its negative impacts in the workplace.
Over the years, women have walked a difficult road in hopes of attaining gender equality. So, retaining women in your firm means taking on their burden as yours. It means creating an environment where they’re heard, and where they don’t have to fight harder than anyone else for what they deserve. It means rewarding their talent and their successes in the same way as their male counterparts and creating a culture where everyone is on the same page about the importance of women’s contributions.
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Mballa Mendouga, Manager – Social Responsibility & Campaigns, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants
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