Responding to the needs of a dynamic world demands a diverse and inclusive workforce that benefits from the unique perspectives, talents and skill sets of women.
Many organizations have set targets and dedicated resources to close the gender gap by prioritizing the attraction, hiring and retention of women.
Activating on these aspirational goals, however, can be challenging. Talent acquisition leaders face an extremely tight labor market and must navigate changes in the composition of candidate pools due to the pandemic’s disproportionate effect on women.
To reach this specific group of talent, organizations must first discover what is important to women and then make real progress to offer compelling job opportunities that meet those needs.
Designing a Value Proposition That Differentiates
Gallup recently asked over 13,000 U.S. employees what they value in a job to help answer this critical question: What do women want in a job? Of the 16 factors Gallup asked about, pay and wellbeing are two that have — unsurprisingly — risen in importance for all potential candidates. When focusing on the top five most important attributes for men and women, four are present in both lists. It should be noted, though, that women placed more importance on each of those four common factors than men did.
The top five most important factors for women when considering whether or not to take a job with a different organization are:
- Allows for greater work-life balance and better personal wellbeing
- Significantly increases my income or improves my benefits package
- Allows me to do what I do best
- Provides greater stability and job security
- The organization is diverse and inclusive of all types of people
Custom table. The most important factors for women when considering taking a new job are greater work-life balance and personal wellbeing, at 66%, and increased income and benefits, at 65%. Among men, the most important factors when considering taking a new job are increased income and benefits, at 63%, and greater work-life balance and personal wellbeing, at 56%.
What Women Want in Their Next Job
There are meaningful differences in what women want in their next job and how important those factors are to them. By delving into these differences more closely, the need for a differentiated strategy becomes clear. Organizations must communicate a specific and dynamic value proposition to attract female talent.
Organizations must communicate a specific and dynamic value proposition to attract female talent.
A Diverse and Inclusive Organization
The most significant difference between what men and women deem important when considering a potential job change is how much women value an organization’s diversity and inclusivity. One in two women report diversity and inclusion is a very important factor in their decision to take a job, compared with three in 10 men. Organizations that prioritize DEI and communicate their values accordingly are going to win the competition for female talent.
- Women are listening and watching — demonstrating how your organization celebrates diversity and prioritizes inclusion will be key to attracting and retaining female talent. Share stories of women who are succeeding in roles at all levels.Representation allows potential candidates to visualize a future in your organization. Ask women in your organization to help evaluate policies, benefits and even office space (the availability of nursing/mother’s rooms, for example) to ensure a focus on inclusivity permeates all aspects of the workplace.
- Spending time and resources implementing strategies to attract female talent is pointless without a systematic and fair hiring process that results in women actually being hired and promoted. Recruiters, HR professionals and hiring managers must be committed to interviewing diverse slates of applicants and evaluating candidates with a consistent process.Leveraging scientifically validated assessments and tools helps reduce the impact of unconscious bias. Communication from leadership should continually reinforce the organization’s values and expectations related to DEI, and hiring practices must be evaluated at regular intervals for both effectiveness and fairness.
Both Work-Life Balance and Increased Pay
Looking at the importance ratings of the top two factors demonstrates that job change drivers for women are multifaceted. Work-life balance is just as important to women (66%) as an increase in income or benefits (65%) — and both are highly important.
This is a key differentiator for women — because although work-life balance is also among the top two factors for men, at 56%, “increases income or improves benefits” is clearly the No. 1 characteristic men value in a job, at 63%.
- Competitive pay is table stakes for attracting both male and female candidates, and the pandemic has underscored potential job seekers’ desires for financial stability along with reliable healthcare and related wellness benefits.Gaining awareness of market pay rates helps inform equitable and fair salary offers, but the most important thing leaders can do is ensure those critical pay conversations incorporate a focus on expectations for performance and opportunities for development.
- Work-life balance and wellbeing can’t be just concepts on a careers page. Job postings and marketing content should outline what flexibility actually looks like at your organization and how leaders embrace the give and take that comes with true work-life balance.In many industries, work can now be done where and when it suits employees, so potential candidates want to know that flexibility is celebrated — not just tolerated.
Spending time and resources implementing strategies to attract female talent is pointless without a systematic and fair hiring process that results in women actually being hired and promoted.
An Opportunity to Do What They Do Best
When considering what would motivate a job change, women placed even more importance than men on having the opportunity to do what they do best (62% vs. 53%, respectively).
This means that the jobs your organization offers must deliver on pay and meaningful work. Women highly value the opportunity to bring their unique sets of knowledge, skills, experiences and strengths to the workplace and contribute in a meaningful way.
Many women find themselves choosing between a career and time spent raising children, caring for family members or investing in their community. Because of this, they’re seeking jobs that make their decision to spend time away from those other important priorities worth it.
- Rethink job structures by considering ways to mold responsibilities to your people instead of expecting to mold people to responsibilities. Employees who get to use their skills and talents at work require less oversight, are more engaged and ultimately more productive.To stand out in a market vying for female talent, make sure job postings outline key job responsibilities accurately and convey your organization’s strengths-based approach to management, which empowers employees to reach their full potential.
- Critically evaluate the required and preferred qualifications for jobs. Highly restrictive criteria for consideration will narrow candidate pools and may do so in a disproportionate way for women. Consider how unique combinations of experiences could prepare a candidate to meet job demands.Openness to gaps in professional work experience may open additional pools of female applicants who paused their careers to focus on personal commitments. Skills and talents aren’t just honed in the office — exceptional female candidates might be one step outside of your current search parameters.
Women seeking new jobs know their value and are analyzing options with new benchmarks. The pandemic has only reinforced the importance of flexible job structures for women who find purpose in their roles at work and outside the office. Competitive and equal pay is table stakes to vie for female talent. To stand out, your organization must have a compelling and authentic employee value proposition that speaks to the unique drivers for women.