How to hire more women

Every year we see more evidence that gender diversity has a positive impact on business performance. The latest McKinsey study shows companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on the executive team were 25 per cent more likely to have above-average profitability than those in the fourth quartile. And the more balanced the representation, the greater the chance of strong performance. Companies with more than 30 per cent women executives were 48 per cent more likely to outperform compared to the least gender-diverse companies. 

When you’ve identified a need for greater gender diversity in your organisation or team, it can be challenging to break the cycle and start attracting female candidates. You may lack female applicants, or struggle to retain female hires. To create long term change, you need a strategy covering your company culture, hiring process and the ways you retain staff. 


Change the culture

In all-male or mostly-male organisations, the dominant culture can be offputting for female employees. The first place to start with your strategy to hire more women is to assess, diagnose and adjust your internal company culture. This way, when you start speaking to candidates you’re ready to impress them. 

Immediately address any issues in your company’s culture relating to gender equality, sexual harassment or professional boundaries. If you have specific concerns or would like an outside opinion, we can help. 

Of course, your challenges might not be as obvious as sexual harassment. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, high staff turnover can indicate your company culture needs work. As part of your fact-finding mission, hold exit interviews with female staff and speak to those who have remained. Encourage them to share their experience and listen carefully to understand how you can improve their working life. 

With work to update company culture underway, you’ll need to start injecting diversity into every layer of the company. Model from the top down by promoting female mentors to your senior team. Recruit or promote a female non-executive director who can support the senior management team as they diversify the workforce. 

Once you’ve started work on your internal company culture, you can think about how it’s perceived from the outside. Talk about the work you’re doing towards equality and diversity on your website and social media. Support women-focused organisations in your company’s charitable work. And look for ways to gender-neutralise your branding and messaging

Adjust your hiring process

With diversity and equality woven into the core of your business, adjust the way you attract new candidates to continue the momentum. These new hires will help reinforce the work you’re doing to move your culture forward. 

Changes to personnel are best implemented from the top down. 61 per cent of women look for gender diversity in the leadership team when considering a role. But how to attract that top female talent? 

Start by writing a gender-neutral job description. 

  • Avoid language that could be considered gendered
  • Limit the list of ‘essential’ requirements. Instead, focus on ‘nice to haves’
  • Ask a female colleague to write the job advert
  • Be transparent about the salary.

With your gender-neutral job ad written, diversify the places you post it. Forbes has a great list of job boards and communities to try. When you appoint the hiring board and interview panel, ensure it’s at least 50 per cent women. Consider what role bias might play in the decision-making process and make plans for eliminating it. You might have a third party remove names from CVs, for example. 

Finally, when making the decision on who to hire, do so based on fit and potential rather than skills and experience. Asking candidates to complete tasks relevant to the role or answer competency-based questions are good ways of doing this.

Work on staff retention

With your new hires on board, you need to think about how to encourage them to stay. Keep female staff members happy by paying them the same as their male counterparts. If you’re still working towards this goal, explain what steps you’re taking and when you intend to reach your target.

Female candidates will appreciate policies such as flexible working, training and development and a fair family policy. Finally, offer your new female hires a female mentor within the business. This will encourage continued open dialogue and opportunities for feedback and help the candidate settle in and enjoy their role.



For support with your diverse hiring push, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.