A growing number of women are blazing the path to become C-suite leaders — but not without considerable barriers in their way. Companies must step up their game if they hope to attract the best and brightest females to take their place among their star employees.
What does it take to attract the high-performance woman candidate?
The McKinsey & Company Women in the Workplace 2016 survey advised that women are currently taking charge of about 33% to 37% of management, senior management and director positions across all industries. Additionally, around a quarter of C-suite jobs are held by women.
The companies that invest in diversity and gender equality see the biggest return. For example, Lever, a San Francisco-based maker of recruiting software used by over 1,200 companies globally, has a progressive recruitment and leadership development program aimed at putting more women into these roles. Led by female CEO Sarah Nahm, Lever is a company that is supporting greater equality in technical careers for women.
"Many of our female employees (or 'Leverettes' as we call them) have shared how encouraged they are by the prominence of women on our management team and our board (which is 40 percent female)," Leela Srinivasan, CMO of Lever, told HR Dive. "Our gender balance on both technical and non-technical teams makes it more likely that our interview panels for candidates organically feature both men or women, but that's something to pay attention to if you're not in the same position.”
Creating female-friendly workplaces for future C-Suite sisters
It’s critical for recruitment teams to understand how to highlight diversity and a female-friendly work culture when interviewing high-performance candidates. In male-dominated fields, there are unspoken, often heavily male-oriented values that can be communicated in the way companies handle their recruitment and interview practices.
To attract top talent, smart recruitment teams take the time to develop perks that will appeal to women's individual needs. For example, family-friendly and flexible work policies, professional development and mentoring for women, and generous maternity and fertility benefits – a handful of factors that can be communicated along with salary and standard offerings.
What women really look for in a career opportunity
InHerSight, an organization that helps women locate and improve work opportunities through a unique 14-factor ratings system of over 27,000 companies, released the findings of their recent survey. The top five factors that appeal to high-powered women, in order of importance based on the response rates of some 15,000 women:
- Paid time off (90%)
- Salary satisfaction (89%)
- Outstanding co-workers (89%)
- Equal opportunities for men and women (85%)
- Flexible work hours (81%)
“Attracting female candidates is only half the battle. Women are leaving the workforce in large numbers, and for some very specific reasons. Our data shows that the top drivers of satisfaction at work include things like equal opportunities for women and women in top leadership, areas where these companies are also excelling," Ursula Mead, CEO of InHerSight, told HR Dive. “The companies topping our list aren’t just getting the attraction side of the puzzle right — they’re also creating environments that are going to help them win when it comes to retention.”
Srinivasan agrees. "Generally speaking, high-performing women will be drawn to companies that can highlight examples of women, or others they identify with, achieving success they can emulate. That success might come in many forms: taking a seat on the executive team or the board, earning a promotion, being given the opportunity to tackle high-profile projects, receiving an award, having a visible speaking role at company meetings, or something else," she said.
And to women who are seeking higher level careers, Srinivasan advises finding someone who is "blazing an inspiring trail," since that instills the belief that you, too, can reach your full potential at that company.
"I think this is true not just for women in tech, but for underrepresented minorities in general.”