Attracting and retaining women at all levels has become a priority for most companies everywhere. The challenge has grown in the wake of COVID-19, as women are taking the opportunity to re-write their relationships with employers and work.
Recent data suggests that women have been quitting more often than men since the pandemic began. One reason is the obvious stressors of caring for family during the pandemic. But bias in the workplace and a lack of flexibility have also been driving women to look for better opportunities or to quit working entirely. Unfortunately, these workplace impediments are not new.
According to 2019 research, 69% of women who had advanced degrees or undergraduate degrees with high honors and who voluntarily quit their jobs said they would have stayed if their employers had offered more flexible work environments. With that as a precursor to the pandemic, the message is that employers need to focus now more than ever on creating jobs and employee experiences that are grounded in principles of equity and flexibility.
Here are three practices that can help you attract, engage, and retain top female talent at all levels:
1. Increase Workplace Flexibility to Help Attracting and Retaining Women
Flexibility in where, when, and how work gets done is becoming a basic expectation among workers. The pandemic proved that knowledge work could be done from almost anywhere that has an internet connection. If your business can, break out of the 9-to-5 format and find ways to fit work into the lives of your people, rather than the other way around.
When you look at how flexibility can benefit your workforce, don’t forget to look at your benefits and rewards package. Does it allow for some level of personalization? Or are employees stuck with a one-size-fits-all solution? For example, if an employee chooses to work from home most days, can she customize her wellness benefits to fit her lifestyle? Or is she stuck driving 20 minutes to the gym at corporate headquarters? When benefits and wellness programs are designed to align with the needs of not just women but all your employees, you are creating a healthier, more productive culture.
2. Adopt Pay Transparency
Pay inequities continue to be a major sticking point for women at work. Even just the suggestion of imbalances in pay is highly demotivating for any employee. Talking openly about compensation is uncomfortable for most of us, but a growing body of evidence suggests that transparency in pay can significantly close the gender pay gap.
3. Support Women with Mentorship and Coaching
We like to think we’ve accomplished our achievements single-handedly. The reality is we probably had a lot of help. Teachers, coaches, mentors, and experts all give us tools and support to help us move forward and grow. Investing in coaching and mentoring programs for women in your organization can help them grow professionally and personally. Mentorship from a female executive might help a new leader navigate a male-dominated industry. A few sessions with a wellness coach might help that same leader find balance between her work and home life.
Creating an engaging supportive culture for women doesn’t end with these three initiatives. But it can start here. Organizations that commit to fostering these kinds of changes and more equitable environments will find they have an easier time hiring and retaining not just women but talented humans as a whole.