Why are there so few women in tech/startups/entrepreneurship? Should we wear pink or not wear pink? These questions have been discussed to death. I’m not here to add another voice to the choir but rather to take a realistic look at how business can attract more women to male-dominated roles.
Be clear about the opportunities for women in your industry.
Identify the potential benefits of your industry and make them clear to people. If you’re in a career with flexible work hours, this is great for women who want to maintain a work-life balance.
It would help if you also considered establishing mentoring programs that allow recruits to learn from senior employees in a safe space. This will help any new employee, male or female, understand your company culture and their expectations.
Create a safe environment for women where they feel comfortable contributing their ideas and asking questions if they don’t understand something. Ensure they know this is an acceptable way of behaving within the company and actively encourage it throughout the workplace.
Have female-friendly policies
There are plenty of options for achieving this goal. First and foremost, you can offer policy changes that support women in the workplace, such as flexible working hours and childcare. This is particularly important for a male-dominated workforce because these fields often have irregular or extended hours that may complicate those with family obligations.
Additionally, having clear paths of progression and equal pay will help women feel more at home in their job role/workplace. When they see that other women have made their way up the career ladder before them and that their work is valued just as much as men’s work, they’ll feel inspired to stick around.
Finally, creating a supportive environment for all your employees—and making that known to potential female candidates—will go a long way toward attracting great female talent (as well as keeping it once you’ve got it).
Tackle the male culture in your workplace
Make sure your sexual harassment policy is clear, applies to everyone, and is enforced. This might sound obvious, but in practice, it’s not. Suppose you want to attract women into male-dominated roles. In that case, you need to tackle the culture—not by asking her if she’s been harassed (that can make her feel unsafe), but by making sure your policy applies to everyone and tackling any problem when it comes up.
Make sure that other policies (like health insurance) apply equally to men and women. In some organisations where men predominate in senior positions, things like paid leave are set up for men with children and don’t consider women’s lives. This makes the workplace unwelcoming for working mothers who might have chosen the role otherwise.
Ensure you have a code of conduct in place and enforce it
To attract and retain women, you need to ensure your company has a clear, fair, and transparent code of conduct. This code should be available for all staff to see, either on the company intranet or online (or both). It’s a good idea to publicly post the code of conduct in shared spaces – like the kitchen or lunchroom – so that everyone is aware of it. The key here is transparency: if staff can’t see your code of conduct, they won’t know what they expect.
The next step is making sure everyone feels comfortable enough to report misconduct when it happens. Employees who feel safe and supported by their organisation are more likely to speak up when treated unfairly or disrespectfully (rather than just taking matters into their own hands), making dealing with bad behaviour easier for everyone.
Your company should also have clear guidelines about how misconduct will be investigated and handled. When an accusation is made, employees should be confident that it will be investigated promptly and objectively, with a process in place for people accused of misconduct to defend themselves and employees who have been harassed or assaulted to voice their concerns. While there will always be some uncertainty about the outcome of an investigation, having clear policies around employee behaviour will help mitigate this uncertainty and leave employees feeling safe in your workplace.
Women are more likely to be interested in male-dominated careers when employers actively address gender inequality
As an employer, you can attract more women to your company by doing a better job of treating them with respect.
This means letting them know that they will be treated fairly and that their voices will be heard. This also means letting them know that other women in the company have succeeded despite all odds.
It’s no surprise that women don’t want to work in hostile environments where they feel like they will be bullied or harassed. They also don’t want to feel like they are the only woman in a room full of men. When women feel like they are part of a team, it creates a sense of camaraderie, making them more likely to stay on board with your company.