Recruiting, Talent

Women Supporting Women around Recruitment and Retention

Try and discover reasons women are not applying for jobs at your company. You can start by looking at your job announcements and recruitment. Examine the way your jobs are advertised, the networks they’re being sent to, or whether recruiting is being done with a recruiting company that isn’t focusing on women applicants.women

Can you or your company use blind reviews by taking out all race references, gender pronouns, and other potentially identifying information that could disclose a person’s identity in ways that are irrelevant to the job requirements?

I pose many questions in this article for you to consider when examining your recruitment and retention efforts, especially when realizing that gender and race diversity go hand in hand, particularly when women of color are earning much less than their white counterparts.

Questions to Consider

You are not expected to immediately address all of these questions, but they are a good road map to help you along.

  • To start, look at your workplace’s recruiting practices. What can you do to invite more diverse applicants, especially women?
  • What can you do to ensure women apply to upper-level positions?
  • Are there opportunities for upward mobility, policies for interrupting potential for gender bias, training, and ongoing support for countering bias?
  • Are women on the search committees?
  • Are there women-focused employee resource groups? How are their ideas being implemented in policies and procedures? Do these groups comprise diverse women?
  • How might the way you have been socialized along gender, race, class, and other differences inform the way you see potential bias?
  • How do you respond when someone says, “There just aren’t enough diverse people or women applying for these positions”? Can you respond in a way that opens up space for reexamining recruitment efforts and workplace climate?

If possible, determine whether your company is implementing the following recruiting practices:

  • Advertise flexibility in office work hours or working from home. This usually attracts more women, Millennials, and people who may be looking for flexibility in order to care for a loved one.
  • Create a female-friendly benefits program that includes prenatal, family planning, and gynecological services.
  • How might you widen your net to female-led organizations, businesses, women’s groups at colleges, and websites that directly discuss women in the workplace and advertise jobs for female-friendly companies? Fairygodboss is a good place to start.
  • Does your company already have women leaders in the C-suite? How can you highlight their achievements to emphasize that promoting women is a goal in your company?

Accountability Policies and Procedures

What does your organization do in the event of internal conflict? Is there a protocol to help alleviate intergroup tension? Is there a zero-tolerance policy for racial and gender discrimination?

When conversations are facilitated skillfully and the participants can see how they might use their privileges and marginalizations to become allies, then real change around these issues can occur—but these conversations have to be ongoing and sustainable.

Although you may or may not have the ability to change some of these situations, you may know the folks who do, which is a step in the right direction.

Some questions to think about regarding your organization:

  • When examining hierarchy, how might your organization examine its policies and procedures to actively recruit women, people of color, and people of diverse backgrounds and abilities?
  • What are the exact policies and procedures around recruiting women?
  • Does your company prioritize attendance at national, state, and local recruitment fairs to directly seek gender diversity?
  • Are there other ways to check for implicit biases that would disqualify someone?
  • In what ways are judgments suspended to ensure applicants’ qualifications aren’t judged based on their identity?
  • What does a “good fit” look like, exactly? And how might you examine potential for bias?

Professional development (PD) trainings can cover a range of topics, including best practices for talking about race, sexual harassment, and microaggressions. Does your company offer PD trainings, and if so, what do they look like? Do they address race and racism or sexism specifically?

When trainings stay more generalized by looking at universal or shared concerns rather than specific and only addressing concerns that speak to converging identities, they tend to avoid specific issues that challenge the diversity your organization lacks. You can’t just pay someone to do an hour-long presentation. Cultivating the skills to detect bias in policies and procedures is a long-term effort.

Individual accountability, small groups, teams, units, and organizations are all responsible for examining their biases in recruiting and retention practices, as well as their professional development.

Finally, how might you keep employees engaged by asking them what inclusion looks like and surveying them to make sure you are following the guidelines you created? If your company truly wants more women in leadership, these issues need to be addressed.

Joy L. WigginsJoy L. Wiggins, PhD, is the founder and executive director of Joy Wiggins, PhD, LLC, a consulting company that focuses on equity, inclusion, and racial and gender justice. She received her doctorate from the Ohio State University in multicultural education. She teaches Culture, Equity, and Advocacy in the Woodring College of Education at Western Washington University.

Her coauthored book with Kami J. Anderson, From Sabotage to Support: A New Vision for Feminist Solidarity in the Workplace, published by Berrett Koehler, is available now at Amazon and your local booksellers.

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