It’s an unfortunate reality: women still lag behind men in the workplace. According to the United States Department of Labor, women earn 78 cents on the dollar compared to men on average. If you’re a woman of color or a mother, your earnings rate shrinks even further.
And when we talk about earning less, we’re presuming that a woman got the job in the first place. Bloomberg Business reports that not only do women face lower pay, they also face lower odds of internal promotions or receiving a job offer. Fostering a culture of gender diversity isn’t just good for women, though–it’s good for men, and it’s good for business.
Fast Company reported in March of 2015 that, just like women, men also value work-life balance, which is something that companies prioritizing gender diversity are more likely to be aware of. From a business standpoint, gender-diverse organizations report higher revenues than their more homogeneous counterparts. Why? The factors attributed to the increased earnings include:
- Men and women bring different insights and ideas to the table, facilitating better problem-solving
- Gender-diverse teams are better able to serve diverse clientele
- Gender-diverse teams help further attract and retain talented women
It’s probably safe to say that attracting more female candidates is on your list of recruiting goals. So what’s preventing employers from doing so, and how can they change course?
How are your job listings written? Are you using terms like rock star or ninja? What about words like assertive, independent, aggressive and analytical? If so, there's a good chance you're alienating women. These words project a masculine connotation. Less inclined toward bravado and to make moral compromises, women are instead drawn to words like dedicated, responsible, conscientious and sociable. If you're unsure of whether you're using gender-coded language in your job ads, well, there's an app for that.
Also be mindful of the breadth of your job description. Check to see if your requirements address a wide variety of traits and responsibilities that might not easily be found in one candidate. If that’s the case, you’re probably drawing fewer female applicants. Men will apply for a job when they meet only 60 percent of the qualifications, according to the Harvard Business Review, but women only apply if they’re at 100 percent.
Remember what GoDaddy’s commercials used to be like? Since making a splash during the 2005 Super Bowl, the company’s ads pretty much defined heterosexual male wish fulfillment. Think scantily clad women kissing nerds or getting body paint applied to them. No wonder the company had a tough time recruiting women.
These commercials, however, were inconsistent with GoDaddy’s corporate culture. So in 2013, the company revamped its brand. And last year, they rolled out several women-centric initiatives: They sponsored women-in-tech conferences, held regular events for their female employees and visited college campuses to support and encourage women in computer science programs. The result is that in 2015, 39 percent of GoDaddy’s engineering interns and new grad hires are female, compared to only 14 percent in 2014.
When developing your marketing and employer brand collateral, consider how these reflect on your workplace culture. Seeking to diversify its applicant pool, which was only 10 percent female, OneLogin recently launched a series of recruitment ads. One featured full-stack engineer Isis Wenger, who went on to create the #ILookLikeAnEngineer campaign. The result is a global social media movement.
Most people don’t like negotiating, but this feeling is especially pervasive among women. In one study among male and female MBAs, seven percent of women negotiated salaries after receiving a job offer, compared to 57 percent of men. The men who negotiated were on average able to increase their salary by more than seven percent.
No doubt, it’s important for women to feel empowered to negotiate. That’s what Levo League’s #ask4more campaign is all about. The organization advises women on negotiating not just salary but other work perks like paid time off, child care subsidies and work setup.
But frankly, it’s not fair to put all the onus on the candidate. Employers have the power to take negotiation off the table for everyone. Say what you will about the government's rigid salary grades, but the result is that compensation is rarely negotiable. Earlier this year the information-sharing site Reddit announced that it would no longer engage in salary negotiations when hiring new talent. Social media app Buffer is well-known for their culture of transparency, right down to making their salary formulas and the exact salaries of their employees publicly available. The compensation and negotiation gap is a deeply ingrained institutional problem–and institutions have the power to correct it.
Family leave benefits
Netflix made headlines this month by announcing its new parental leave policy: mothers and fathers can take up to a year off following the birth of their child and receive full pay. Since the Netflix announcement, other tech companies have also increased their paid parental leave: Microsoft is increasing its leave to 20 weeks for new mothers, and Adobe is offering new mothers 26 weeks of leave.
“But I’ve only got 30 employees and I can’t afford to lose one of them for six months!” you say. I get it–for startups and small businesses, these generous policies may seem unrealistic. Many Series A, B and C startups–let alone seed stage startups–lack any type of maternity leave policy at all. At the same time, there are many women in tech who would refuse to work for a company without a maternity leave policy. Without a leave policy in place, you’re putting yourself at a serious disadvantage when it comes to recruiting and retaining female talent.
Gender-diverse teams tend to be more successful teams. From an economic standpoint alone, if your growing company is lacking in this respect, hiring more women to fill your openings should be a priority. To recruit more women, there are actionable steps you can take:
- Make sure your job descriptions are free of gender-coded language and don't "require" every skill under the sun
- Develop a corporate culture that’s inclusive of women and even consider launching a recruitment campaign aimed at women
- Ditch salary negotiations
- Institute a family leave policy (ideally paid)
By taking these steps, you’ll demonstrate to women that you value them. You'll meet your gender-diversity hiring goals, and your bottom line will thank you.