India’s economy may have grown, but the participation of women in the workforce in India fell 10% over the last decade. An ASSOCHAM-Thought Arbitrage Research study in June stated that there’s an urgent need to create more jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities to promote women empowerment. Why? Continued research over the last decade has shown that companies’ bottom lines benefit greatly when they actively recruit and help women advance. Studies show that companies that endeavor to include women in their workforce are better able to attract and retain talent, cut turnover costs, improve organisational operations and develop a robust leadership pipeline.
More recently, a Employer Branding Trends 2016 Study by People Matters and Monster.com decodes the bottom-up perspective to understand what an “employer brand” means from a candidate or prospective employees point of view.
Here’s a look at what you can do, as an employer, to attract, recruit and retain female talent.
Offer schedules that are truly flexible
Work flex is critical when it comes to hiring and retaining female talent. But flexible schedules can’t be flexible only on paper. Think beyond letting someone work from 11 to 7 instead of 9 to 5. A truly flexible workplace will allow employees to adjust their schedules for every type of curveball life throws at them – sick kids, parents’ health checks, PTA meets and so on. Figure out what works best for you and your employees. Focusing on performance, and not hours spent on the desk, makes employees feel more valued, satisfied and makes them work harder.
Put women in leadership positions
If entry and mid-level women see other women in leadership positions in the organisation, they are more likely to believe that their dream of climbing the corporate ladder and gaining success is possible. Research shows that diverse leadership teams are more successful, so organisations committed to retaining female talent need to ensure that their leadership team includes strong female leaders.
Ensure pay parity
With even top Hollywood actress Jennifer Lawrence complaining that she isn’t paid as much as her male counterparts, it’s clear that women have it tough when it comes to compensation. The Monster Salary Index report shows the gender pay gap in India is 27%, which means that women get paid almost a third less than men. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, if change continues at the same slow pace, it will take until 2059 for women to reach pay parity. Ensuring that you pay for talent and skills, and not gender will draw top female talent and single you out.
Guard against sexism at every level
Attracting talented young women and retaining them needs an atmosphere where men and women are treated equally. Most companies put in place measures against discrimination and sexual harassment, but it takes more than that to eradicate sexism from the workplace. Be it blatant or subtle, educate employees at all levels about unconscious biases and benevolent sexism.
Promote work-life balance
Women want to break barriers and rise to the top, but they don’t want to give up on the other aspects of their life. Things are tougher for women since they need to balance work, home, family and relationships, and keep things together all the time. Ensuring that your company enforces work-life balance by making time off and vacations mandatory, letting employees disconnect over the weekend and asking them to desist from late working hours will ensure that they don’t need to struggle to “have it all”.
Make paternity leave a must
Being known as a company that promotes gender equality will go a long way in drawing female talent. Offering a generous paternity leave policy – and implementing it – sends the message that you as a company are committed to working women and families. Paternity leave may be for men, but it benefits working mothers, infants and children, and shows that you’re an inclusive employer.
Work on drivers for female employee retention
The organisation needs to focus on small, but important, everyday changes that take into consideration common challenges of women — mothers in particular – face. Policies for onsite/subsidised childcare, onsite or paid and unpaid leave, project-based employment and others that make it easier for women to return to work need to be formulated and followed.
All top companies know and value the benefits of attracting and retaining women – a deeper talent pool, a more engaged leadership team, higher job satisfaction and increased company loyalty. Chuck Jeannes, former CEO of Goldcorp, said it all: “You can’t have a successful business that ignores 50% of the population.”