It’s comes as no shock that the proportion of men in senior roles greatly outweighs the number of women, but what steps can recruiters take to attract more female candidates to senior positions? 

Chris Stappard, Managing Director of Edward Reed Recruitment, has taken to the blog to give us his best advice on the small changes we can make to attract more female applicants to senior roles.

Currently, there’s a record number of women in senior positions on FTSE 100 boards. But, this record number is still only 29% ( Clearly, there’s still more we need to do internally to attract more women to our senior positions and promote gender equality throughout the workplace. In this article, I’ll be sharing my best advice on how to encourage more women to apply for your senior positions.

Check your job adverts

The first thing that could be prejudicing your recruitment process is your job advert itself. It’s certainly no secret that certain words evoke specific feelings, and research from the American Psychological Association published on the Heriot Watt University website has found that including gender-biased language in job advertisements can make positions less appealing to women.
When writing your application, you might already have an indication in your mind about what kind of person you want to hire for the role, which means you’re going to write your advert based on this. But be careful, because certain words such as “dominant” and “lead” are more likely to attract male applicants to the role.
To make the process fair, try to go for more neutral language in your job adverts and ask for qualities which are more likely to be attributed to both men and women. If you’re not sure if your advert is unconsciously prejudicing your recruitment process, you can run it through this handy online language checker.

Be upfront about salaries

One thing that female applicants are very put off by when it comes to applying for jobs is the gender pay gap. Even women in senior positions suffer from the pay gap, so it’s important to do your part as an employer to rectify this when hiring. Data collected by the World Economic Forum states that the UK is ranked 52 out of 144 countries in regards to wage equality for similar work.

When recruiting, be upfront about pay. Many recruiters are still in the habit of asking candidates about their previous salary but doing so only worsens the pay gap and is off-putting to female talent. If women have been underpaid in their previous role, this just makes it more likely that they’ll be underpaid in their new role, too. Make sure you pay your female candidates based on their knowledge, skill set, and what they bring to the company, and be transparent about pay at the very beginning of the recruitment process.

Offer flexible working hours

It’s important to remember that our staff, especially those with families, have other important responsibilities outside of work, so employers need to make allowances for this. Giving employees the option of flexible working hours means that they can easily work their career around their family and personal lives, and female applicants will be more attracted to your company because you give them the opportunity to achieve a better work-life balance.
In fact, offering flexible working hours is great for your business because it also improves the general wellbeing of staff. Research conducted by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) found that 38% of people report feeling happier at work and 35% reported lower levels of stress due to flexible working hours. 38% of respondents also agreed that flexi-hours gave them more time to spend with their families.

Train your employees

Training your staff is essential to a productive work environment but it can also increase employee confidence levels. Offer training opportunities to your current staff to improve their skills and encourage your female staff to apply for more senior roles within your company.
Not only will training improve the expertise of your employees, but a company made up of highly trained women is going to attract more female applicants from outside the business. It shows that you value your female employees just as much as their male counterparts.

There’s still a lot to do to truly achieve equality in business, especially in senior roles. But just some small changes to our work culture and recruitment process can make a big difference in the long run. By removing any unconscious sexism and offering useful employee benefits, we’re taking a step in the right direction.