Did you know that four out of five people who quit their jobs because of COVID were women? From caregiving responsibilities to school closures to a lack of childcare options, there are many reasons women have been leaving the workforce in far higher numbers than men over the last year. Unfortunately, this means that decades of work to bring equity across genders into the workplace has been mostly undone in only a year.
You may be wondering: What can be done about this? How can we undo this? We don’t have control over school and daycare closures or family obligations. But we do have a lot of options to make our workplaces ones where women can thrive. Here are some examples of things employers can do:
- Ensure your recruiting team knows that women are facing more hurdles than ever right now. That may mean that, despite high unemployment numbers, it’s still tougher to recruit them. They need to know to be persistent.
- Be aware of how your job descriptions impact who will apply. Even in the word choices, job descriptions can cause people to self-select in or out of applying, even when that’s not your intent. Consider having a third party (or even online software) review your job posts to highlight where gender-specific words and descriptions are being used, and take steps to make them more gender neutral.
- Remember that women are less likely to apply for a job unless they feel fully qualified, whereas men are more likely to apply for something if they’re close to being qualified. For this reason, it’s important not to over-inflate the required qualifications that are listed. Doing so could inadvertently skew the applicant pool to less qualified men instead of equally qualified men and women. Take a good look at the qualifications required, and be sure they are truly necessary and not just a wish list.
- Evaluate your benefits on offer to see how family- and caregiver-friendly they are. Consider adding benefits that make it easier for people to balance work and family obligations. If you do this, remember to communicate about these benefits so they’re known to potential applicants. There are the obvious ones like flexible working hours, but think beyond just flexible working hours to consider more ways women will feel valued.
- Ensure your entire recruiting team knows that recruiting and retaining women in your organization is one of your major goals. This alone can help people be aware of ways the organization can work toward this outcome.
- Pay attention to how your organizational culture is presented online and in job ads. Cultural fit is a big reason people are attracted to an organization and one of the many reasons they want to stay or leave over time. Look at things like company activities, things that are promoted on social media, and even the number of photos that depict male versus female employees online. All of these things will have an impact on how your organization is perceived by candidates.
- Evaluate the demographic profiles of the places you post job ads. If any of them tend to skew male, try to balance that by finding job posting sites that skew female, or focus only on sites that are more neutral in terms of candidate genders.
- Ensure your work culture is friendly to everyone, which means being serious about antiharassment, antiviolence, antibullying, etc.
More Resources from the HR Daily Advisor
The above list has examples of a few ways to get started. If you truly want to bring more women back on board in 2021, here are several more articles to check out for more tips and ideas:
- “Why Women Aren’t Applying to Your Job Posts”— https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2019/12/27/why-women-arent-applying-to-your-job-posts/
- “How Recruiters Can Eliminate Gender Discrimination in Hiring”— https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2017/12/12/recruiters-can-eliminate-gender-discrimination-hiring/
- “Using Benefits to Support Employees Who Are Caregivers”— https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2020/11/13/using-benefits-to-support-employees-who-are-caregivers/
- “What Are Caregiving Benefits?”—https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2017/08/29/what-are-caregiving-benefits/
- “Supporting Parents in the Workplace: Childcare Benefits”— https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2019/08/29/supporting-parents-in-the-workplace-childcare-benefits/
- “Unexpected Places for Gender Bias in the Workplace”— https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2020/04/06/unexpected-places-for-gender-bias-in-the-workplace/
- “Training for Gender Inclusivity”—https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2019/11/11/training-for-gender-inclusivity/
- “Moving Toward Equality: Fixing the Gender Pay Gap”— https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2020/11/10/moving-toward-equality-fixing-the-gender-pay-gap/
- “8 Ways to Improve Diversity in the Workplace”— https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2016/11/28/8-ways-improve-diversity-workplace/