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How Small Business Owners Attract And Retain Female Leaders

(6-8 minute read)

Female leadership is important for any company that wants to be able to attract and retain female employees and/or bring diversity of thought and innovation to their business. It can be challenging for small companies to achieve diversity in their leadership ranks. This is especially true in traditionally male-dominated industries or in organizations where the employee demographics are currently primarily male.

So, where can you start? Here are five areas to examine when striving to create an inclusive and welcoming environment.

Look at your recruiting processes. Research on how women look for job suggests that they rely on job reviews and personal relationships to find and secure new opportunities. Women are less likely than men to use mainstream recruiting sites, and this can make women more difficult to reach. Overcoming this challenge requires connecting with appropriate networks and being intentional about your interest in women as candidates as you network and look for referrals.

Communicate your culture, benefits, and policies clearly. Ensure that you also have a clear understanding on these topics with your current management team. Put these items formally in your job offers and weave them through your interviewing process. Some of these topics can feel stigmatizing to ask about in an interview. These topics often include work flexibility and maternity leave. If candidates have a feeling of uncomfortableness about these policies during the interview process, it could make them more likely to reject an offer.

Review gender pay equity. The gender pay gap is a real issue. Addressing gender pay equity within your company does not require you commit to a full compensation audit, but progress on this topic can be as simple as keeping your compensation consistent across job titles. Articulating this is important and you should have a clear approach.

Use flexibility and work life balance as a differentiator if you can. Smaller organizations can often more easily accommodate flexibility. It can be hard when you don’t have as much scale in a department to handle back-ups and coverage, but the solutions can often be more creative. If possible, develop and communicate a specific policy on flexibility. Flexibility is a benefit to all employees, not just women. Making this policy transparent and open as opposed to something that is negotiated individually with a manager allows you at to attract people who may be looking for an environment that allows them to achieve better balance. This is a top issue for many employees who are unengaged in their current job.

Cater your development approach for female leaders. The Center for Creative Leadership did a survey of 337 HR leaders and line managers and found that the top 4 leadership challenges for women are

  • Establishing credibility
  • Managing up and across the organization
  • Negotiating adeptly
  • Influencing others

While development plans are individual by nature, this list can be a helpful way to start a conversation about building those leadership skills in key middle or senior level managers in your organization. Starting the conversation with a little research and some ideas to help them foster the right relationships and work on the right skills to provide more value is a great place to start.

Tapping into the full workforce available to help you run your business is key to make sure you have the best talent. To learn more about how we can help you tackle your talent attraction and retention strategies please contact us to talk about your needs!


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June 4, 2018




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