Research shows that companies with female leaders on their executive teams produce more value and profitability. These companies even have more women in revenue-generating roles, rather than merely in staff roles. However, we’re still a long way from gender parity - 217 years, in fact. That’s how long it will take us to achieve equality between men and women in the workplace at the rate we’re currently moving.
Creating diversity in the workplace is more than hiring one or two women and saying you care. When hiring your first female employee to an all-male team, it is important to bridge the gap yourself by ensuring you are incorporating diversity into the culture, the workforce, the recruiting methods, and day-to-day work.
Here are 5 tips for hiring your first female employee to an all-male team.
1. Take a look at your job descriptions
Be cautious about the words you use in your job descriptions. Are you using words that are overtly male, such as “competitive” or “ambitious”?
Job descriptions must be written to apply to both genders. This doesn't mean you should throw in stereotypical female biased words, such as “understanding,” “supportive,” or “good listener.” Using gender-neutral language will increase the number of applicants—from each gender—for your open positions. You may not realize it, but the mere drafting of your job descriptions could be turning away half of the workforce.
Additionally, make sure you include a legal diversity disclaimer in you job postings. This will give peace of mind to women, and other minorities, applying to your positions.
2. Vary your sourcing
Use several different hiring sources to attract a variety of candidates to apply for job openings. For example, make sure you’re posting your job openings and descriptions not just on routine job boards, but also on job boards that specifically source for diversity, like Power to Fly or Hire Tech Ladies.
Share your job posts on social media. Don’t stop at LinkedIn - post on Instagram and Facebook as well.
Ask your employees for referrals. But, here’s the trick. If you have a team of only men and you want to increase the number of women on your team, ask your employees to think outside the box. What women do they know that are a perfect fit not only for the job description but for your culture? Reward them accordingly for thinking in terms of diversity as opposed to referring someone just like them.
Perhaps you’re filling a position that is highly skilled or niche. These positions are challenging to fill, especially if you rely on typical employee referral programs or routine posting on job boards or social media. However, your employees are directly linked to thousands of individuals through their social media platforms - and there might be someone among those connections that fits the job.
What if you had access to all of those connections—not just your own, but your employees’ too? If you could use a third-party platform that could mine those contacts for you to find that perfect female hire for that niche position? Now you’re onto something!
3. Introduce diversity early on
Don’t wait until your company is well established before you hire your first female employee. Diversity should be established early on. According to a recent Harvard Business Review study, U.S. company management is on average 64 percent male. The higher you go in management, the more male you get—with 78 percent of top management positions occupied by men.
Once this culture is established, it gets harder and harder to diversify your organization. Culture is “reinforcing,” meaning that if your organization is predominantly male, your workforce will recruit others like them, thus perpetuating the male culture. Introducing underrepresented members of your workforce at this critical point—in this case women—would be more challenging for your current workforce and for the new female hires.
By introducing diversity early, you create a culture demanding—well—diversity. Expectations are set for employees not to look alike, or think alike, or have the same experiences. Getting everybody on board early is key to creating a diverse culture.
4. Encourage men’s participation
Hiring a woman onto a team of men won’t produce highly successful results unless the male employees participate as well. Considering that most leadership, whether it’s a startup or a corporation, consists of men, male participation is critical to integrating a woman onto the team. In a recent global study, when women are left to fend on their own to generate change, only 30 percent progress results. However, when men participate in gender diversity, businesses show 96 percent progress.
To make sure that male employees are involved with diversity-wide initiatives, men should actively participate. Making sure your male employees can communicate their thoughts and ideas openly, as well as not making any assumptions about roles or tasks a woman wants to assume helps to ensure work opportunities are seen through a gender-blind lens.
Even though women comprise half of the workforce, they are essentially an untapped resource, especially for management and leadership positions. By creating a culture of diversity, and hiring diverse employees, organizations could increase revenue by approximately 41 percent. You have more diverse ideas, concepts, backgrounds, and experience all contributing to the collective whole.
5. Involve leadership in recruiting
Involve your founder or leader of Human Resources in the recruiting. This leader is instrumental in interviewing not only for the right hard skills but also for the right soft skills. It is critical that the first female hire fit into the culture and message of the company.
The leader should interview the female candidate and introduce the candidate to the team, watching for interpersonal and cultural fit. Getting feedback from the team will be beneficial, but make sure it’s constructive.
Diverse hiring should stop with the top down. Leadership should set the cultural tone and hire for fit—not to attain a statistic. Diversity doesn’t stop at hiring either. Leadership and employees should support each other’s ideas and thoughts, work schedules, and projects on a daily basis to create a prosperous organization.