How We Can Bring Women Back to Work

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Jul 21, 2015
This article is part of a series called How-Tos.

Despite the fact that we know women make up the largest portion of consumers in the world and have more power and influence than ever, women are leaving the workforce in droves. The conversation with these women begins with talent acquisition, where leaders have the opportunity to make an impact on this.

Talent acquisition is on the front lines. You are the window into organizational culture, brand, and provide the value proposition to the potential candidate. You are the link between the needs of the organization and the needs of the individual. So where have we gone wrong?

Womens’ needs are different. Our wiring, our emotional EQ, our ability to establish relationships and think systemically is unlike our male counterparts. After over 18 years in corporate America I have learned something very interesting, and in truth, disheartening. Women often put all of their energy and effort in trying to compete with men versus appreciating their own unique capabilities. Women try to fit into a mold they were never cut out for. Many are losing their authenticity and purpose, and sacrificing their values to meet expectations that are not inherently natural. The result is burnout, stressing out, and eventually walking out.

One of the things I will cover at this year’s ERE conference in Atlanta is how talent acquisition can more effectively recruit women by recruiting the whole person — not just what they do, but who they are. Outlined below are a few points that will get you thinking until we meet in October.

Be aware of bias: We all have bias. It’s natural. The key is to be aware of this bias. Ask yourself how you view women and their contribution in the workforce. Ask yourself what the business needs and how hiring great female talent can close critical gaps. Remember, your own behavior and attitude is the first exposure to the candidate experience.

Linking values to business: The internal values, motivations, and needs that women have are a unique differentiator and have been proven to drive organizational impact. How often do you ask interview questions around examples of building cross-functional relationships, coaching people, and helping others to evolve, giving back to the community or their prior organization? These are values that align with the bottom line; not just warm and fuzzy, they actually matter! 

Identify a new sourcing strategy: If you really take the time to proactively look out into the market, you will find exceptional women doing exceptional things. To truly source great female talent, a strong sourcing strategy needs to be identified that includes scouting talent at conferences to see who is speaking, who is honored, and which females are making a real difference. There are also women to be sourced who are volunteers and board members who are actively contributing their free time to matters of the heart. I don’t know about you, but I want someone on my team who gives freely of their time and effort to make a difference.

Define a powerful value proposition: Assuming fair compensation and benefits, women join organizations for culture and environment. Understand and define what your value proposition is as it relates to women. Why do women join your organization? Why do they stay? What unique opportunities for growth are provided for women and how are women recognized within the organization?

Talent acquisition sets the tone for attracting and hiring great female talent. Each candidate interaction is an opportunity to advance the agenda and use the unique capabilities that women possess to drive organizational success.

This article is part of a series called How-Tos.
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