Have a look around at your leadership team. How many women are there?
Is it that you don’t have female employees to promote? Or because your promotion processes are not inclusive?
Research tells us that promoting women is a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario. If you don’t have women in leadership roles it is difficult for prospective female staff to see career prospects at your company. And how do you know that your promotion processes are inclusive, if it is mostly men promoting men?
Take a look at the informal buddy mentoring systems in your company, are managers and leaders choosing to mentor people that remind them of themselves? This instantly reduces the potential for an inclusive culture.
How clearly defined are your promotion processes? Do you internally advertise to all staff? Bear in mind that women are typically less likely to apply for a role if they don’t feel they have proven experience of 100% of the skills listed. And that if others in the team are applying, women are less likely to put themselves forward.
How would you define the perfect candidate? And what are the shortlisting criteria? Compare your preconceptions about the type of person who should fill the role, and the skills needed to carry out the role well. This will highlight some inbuilt biases. We are all guilty of inbuilt biases, and for inclusive recruitment, we need to keep them in check.
Do your career progression opportunities include flexible working? A friendly culture? A value system that they can relate to? Are your job descriptions compiled of technical terms? Or do they provide a contextual insight into the type of role you are advertising? All these items have been found to make-or-break whether a female decides to apply for a role.
A culture of inclusion will come more readily when you have people of all genders, at all levels in the organisation. Until then, it helps if current female leaders are visible. Let people see any women you have on your board, or in management, so that women can see a future for themselves in your company.
“You can’t be what you can’t see”.
Marian Wright Edelman, Children rights activist
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