Rebecca Henderson is CEO of Randstad Sourceright. The views expressed here are the author's own.
When it comes to finding work, women want it at all: We want more from our employers than a fair paycheck, paid family leave and flexible hours. Female candidates, who have entered the labor market with a force this past year, want to work for companies whose values reflect their own. With men lagging in labor force participation, companies need to build out and communicate their values to attract women.
In fact, nearly three quarters of women are interested in working for a company with a higher purpose beyond generating revenue, according to a recent report from Morning Consult. Only half of men surveyed said the same.
Some values are universally appealing, as both men and women were drawn to employers who are environmentally responsible or give a share of company profits to charity, but women in white-collar fields were particularly interested in companies that make a deliberate effort to hire and promote a diverse staff.
And that makes sense when you consider that, generally speaking, women want to lift up other women. We want to see employers make an impact on society from the inside-out, and we want our fellow women to feel empowered to make decisions about their careers or family, rather than be motivated by guilt or fear. Most of all, we want a more equitable society and workplace for the generations following us.
Organizations can demonstrate their commitment to diversity in many ways, such as closing gender pay gaps or setting goals to increase gender representation in leadership. Employers can also organize affinity groups and mentorship programs for women and people of color, in addition to offering unconscious bias training for all employees. Even donating a small percentage of proceeds to organizations committed to advancing women or other underrepresented groups can go a long way.
For companies, a commitment to diversity is truly the gift that keeps on giving, boosting both performance and innovation. According to research from McKinsey & Company, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity in their executive teams have outperformed their competitors by 21% and those in the top quartile for ethnic diversity outperformed their competitors by 33% in 2017. Employers who make these efforts will ultimately see more applications from candidates with a wider array of backgrounds.
As CEO of a global talent solutions provider, I see this all the time. For example, crowdfunding website Patreon signals its commitment with a motto you might not expect to see in Silicon Valley, where the all-inclusive-perks model reigns supreme: “Work hard and go home.” Erica Joy Baker, a former senior engineering manager at Patreon, told the Wall Street Journal that this motto and the lack of all-inclusive perks told her that Patreon cares about a work-life balance – an especially important factor for women deciding where to work. One of the ways we demonstrate our dedication at Randstad Sourceright is through the mentorship programs we offer. By pairing more senior male and female executives with early to mid-career women, we have noticed a lasting impact on the career trajectory of our female employees.
Though women are certainly looking for employers that understand our need for flexible hours and paid family leave, a commitment to the values of diversity and inclusion can speak even louder. Companies that want to attract female talent can start by setting goals and making pledges to improve representation, because ultimately, a commitment to diversity tells women that a company will be committed to them.