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I’d like to celebrate women in the recruitment space, in honour of International Women’s Day, and give you ideas for how you can keep your female workforce in the industry for longer.
The recruitment space has seen a very positive change in recent years with the number of women increasing on the UK Plc board by 13.6% (from just 12.5% in 2011, to 26.1% in 2016, and steadily rising) as more women are occupying roles in the industry. Despite the fact that I am new myself to the recruitment sector, it is clear to me from the women I have seen, met, and worked with in this space that they possess the key qualities that will help them go on to be great leaders (our team). According to a study commissioned by Women in Recruitment and conducted by Westminster Business School, women are better at billing than men. Which makes me wonder, what is holding us ladies back?
The same study found that women are more likely to leave the recruitment industry before they move into senior positions for several reasons, resulting in 77% of board level positions being held by men, despite the fact that women represent 56%of all senior positions within the recruitment industry.
Here are the top 3 reasons that the study uncovered for the reason why recruitment firms are losing their female talent:
- Family commitments are a key concern: The greatest reason prohibiting further career progression was, according to 66% of respondents, due to family and caring responsibilities. Women often report that taking a career break to raise their children makes it difficult for them when they return to the workplace, with a lack of support on offer by their employers at a level they need to resume what is a high pressured and competitive environment within the recruitment sector.
- The sector still retains an ‘old boys club’ culture: A significant 41% of respondents stated that the existence of an ‘old boys’ ethos’ is detrimentally affecting their career prospects, with Boards overwhelmingly made up of men. The study stated: ‘While there are good places, there are still pockets of unconstructed male chauvinism’. This can obviously be incredibly alienating to women within the industry who may feel left out or discriminated against, leading to diminished trust in employers and limited career opportunities.
- There is a lack of female role models: Only 27% of respondents said they had a female role model in the workplace. This is a difficult one to tackle because if women aren’t getting promoted, or are leaving the workplace before they can be, then there can’t be role models for younger or less experienced colleagues.
So, what can you do to ensure that you retain the female workforce within your business?
- Create a culture of flexibility so office work can be done remotely and on a flexible schedule, especially for working mothers.
- Educate yourself about the unique challenges women face regarding promotions and pay equality.
- Offer equitable compensation, equal pay for equal work will help close the wage gap;
- Integrate diversity at all levels throughout your business to create a healthy work culture.
- Understand the challenges working mothers face, this can be done by recalibrating your expectations, re-setting your goals, extending deadlines and rethinking performance evaluations because empathic leadership will pave the way for future success at all levels of your business.
- Provide access to role models, sponsors and mentors, if you resolve the obstacles stated above, then this will be much easier and come naturally!
In conclusion, I’m not trying to convince you that women are a great and valuable asset in your business — you already know that — but they could be an even greater advantage for your organisation if given the opportunity and support to thrive. By using best practice combined with the tips above, you can provide extraordinary support to the female members of your team. A great example that we’ve recently seen is from one of our clients, APSCo, who has teamed up with the ‘Women In Recruitment’ initiative to pave the way for staffing companies to provide more opportunities for females in their specialism by combining their joint knowledge and experience. This is a fantastic and conscientious step forward that I would like to highlight as we celebrate International Women’s Day!