I’ve worked in the human resources industry for 22 years. Gender equality is one of those trendy topics that comes around every once in a while. Over and over, I’ve seen it dismissed by leaders who lack imagination and can’t envision a world where women and people of color have equal access to financial and decision-making opportunities at work.
“It’s so hard to hire and promote women,” they tell us. “There’s a war for talent. We can’t find the right candidates. When we do, they’re too expensive or want benefits we can’t offer.”
Achieving gender equality isn’t splitting the atom. HR and recruiting professionals have the capacity to fix this. Beyond employing Soviet-style quotas, there’s a way to rethink your approach to the function of HR that will benefit your business for years to come.
Sourcers and Recruiters: Work to the Top of Your License
Thanks to the uptick in the economy, it seems as if it’s never been more challenging to attract and retain the best workers.
But I have a little history under my belt. I know finding good candidates is tough no matter what. Instead of complaining about how hard it is to find people — and blaming a broken talent pipeline for the lack of women in leadership roles — accept the radical notion that good talent is hard to find. Then take accountability and build that damn talent pipeline yourself.
The art and science of recruiting rests on a foundation of creative and diverse and varied talent pools that include people of all sexes, genders, races and abilities. While it seems daunting to craft talent attraction strategies, there’s no need to recreate the wheel. Case studies — complete with instructions — abound on the internet.
For example, MYOB is an Australian corporation that provides tax and accounting services to small- and medium-sized businesses. Have a look at their case study and learn how they recruited more women into IT. Copy the good stuff that might work for your organization.
Then, when you achieve success in your endeavors, teach the world how you did it. That’s how we band together and solve gender inequality in the workforce.
Employer Branding: Mean What You Say
There’s nothing worse than being sold a bill of goods on a job that sucks. It’s not uncommon for recruiters to lure candidates into a company with the promise of a family-friendly culture. Unfortunately, corporate HR departments don’t get the memo and enforce company policies that undermine work-life balance.
Thankfully, workers are talking to one another. Through online platforms and informal communities, job seekers are evaluating job offers and, in the process, raking your company culture over the coals. Your “unlimited PTO policy” and inauthentic employer brand isn’t fooling anyone except the CEO who thinks he oversees a benevolent culture that supports employees who have a life outside of work. Workers know the truth and are warning each other.
If your company lacks female representation in crucial roles, it could be that you’re the last one to know that your employer brand sucks. Or you see it but feel powerless to change it.
It’s time to hire experts to bridge the gap between recruiting and HR. Find consultants and advisors who develop employer brands and talent strategies that speak the truth about your organization. Or get educated and do the work yourself. Here’s a list of books on employer branding to get you started.
A Message to HR: Pay People What They Deserve
The single biggest thing your company can do to achieve gender equality and bring more diverse people into your workforce is to close the pay gap.
According to GetRaised, a site committed to eliminating the pay gap, underpaid people tend not to ask for raises. It’s because they either don’t know they are being underpaid, don’t know how to ask for a raise, or feel they don’t deserve a raise. As a recruiter, you can proactively create campaigns and strategies to highlight competitive pay practices and attract passive candidates into your company.
Better yet, what if you could offer an employee experience where people don’t have to jump through hurdles and ask for what they deserve? GetRaised also reports that many underpaid workers do themselves a disservice and ask for raises using the wrong language. They say “I want a raise” or “I deserve a raise” instead of building a logical case for change.
It’s easier to develop and promote a diverse workforce if you’re paying them well and retaining them. Let’s work backward and solve the problem of gender inequality where it often starts: at the offer letter.
You Have the Power to Fix Gender Inequality
There’s plenty of blame to go around when it comes to gender inequality. Some say that schools aren’t educating our children. Girls aren’t advocating for themselves. Protected minorities don’t know how to negotiate.
It’s rare to find an executive or human resources leader who takes responsibility and focuses on practical, pragmatic solutions to achieve gender equality. If you were looking for a sign, this is it. Create diverse talent pools that enable you to hire more women and people of color. Don’t sell your candidates on an inauthentic employer brand. Pay people what they deserve.
Adopt those three pillars and document your results. Then you’ll be the future case study for performance and excellence in the HR industry and beyond.