Perfect Storm

Are you paying attention to an obvious solution for recruitment and retention?

With the unemployment rate nationally at 3.8 percent, the lowest it’s been since March 2001, many companies are being forced to find new ways to attract quality candidates and retain them. The Simmons Group has been advising clients since 2015 that employers are heading toward the perfect storm: fewer candidates due to lower birth rate, low unemployment and more jobs available than candidates.

We believe one solution to the recruitment and retention challenge is attracting more women and under-represented individuals in the workforce. Although it’s not a novel concept, in the sense that you are recruiting talent and through this process you happen to hire women and diverse candidates, what may be novel are the approaches to recruiting and retaining individuals in the workplace that actively prioritize women and diverse candidates.

Focusing more efforts on recruiting diversity may deepen what we call the labor “puddle,” as labor pools are simply too shallow to call pools anymore. Retaining diversity in the workplace will help your organization as well. Specifically, having women in the workplace results in multiple benefits: lower sexual harassment claims, diversity of thought, and organizations that can count on women in management and board positions to drive stock market prices.

As you navigate your recruitment and retention strategy, we believe it’s important to consider the following:

Conduct a compensation analysis to ensure men and women (especially women of color) in like roles are being paid equitably.

Women are at the cusp of making up the majority of the workforce, and yet they are still making 80 cents to a man’s dollar. Additionally, women’s median annual earnings are $10,086 less than men’s median annual earnings. Historically, one cause of this was putting women in traditional roles rather than in leadership positions or male-centric jobs such as construction or software development. We encourage you to break down each role in your organization, see where there are gaps in earnings, and close the gap.

In addition to the pay gaps, does your organization allow for the best candidate to advance in the organization? Under-represented employees have expectations of advancement and career growth, so don’t let your biases predetermine how your employees will develop their careers. Giving all employees equal opportunity to advance within the organization may also lead to the closure of the leadership gap.

If you don’t have a mentorship program established, it’s time to start thinking about one. In general, your mentees are more likely to develop leadership skills, get promoted and report greater job satisfaction and organizational loyalty. Mentors will also benefit from these relationships. They are likely to report greater job satisfaction and organizational loyalty and get the opportunity to practice their leadership skills. Mentoring all employees in your workplace is likely going to benefit your organization.

As the attraction-selection-attrition (ASA) model implies, organizations are made up of thier employees, and the organization’s culture is established by these employees, attracting other similar individuals to the organization. Thus, having female and diverse representation in your workplace is likely to attract more female and diverse talent to your organization. Equality and diversity are also attractive to workers of younger generations, a separate discussion topic altogether.

What benefits are you offering to target women and diverse candidates in the workplace?

  • As previously mentioned, what are your mentoring, promotion and pay equity practices?
  • What “flexibility” do you offer your employees to meet the needs of their jobs and the needs of life? Allowing individuals to work remotely gives them the flexibility to meet their work demands and the demands of their family.
  • Do you offer paid maternity leave in conjunction with your FMLA? Often, women avoid getting pregnant or having a family because they feel like they have to trade off work for family and vice versa. By allowing them financial stability on top of job security, they are more likely to remain invested to your organization because of your investment in them.
  • Do you offer child-care assistance—a monthly stipend or on-site care? Assisting with paying for child care reduces an additional stressor, making employees more productive in the workplace.
  • Do you have an intentional digital presence regarding the diversity in your workplace? Look at your representation on digital/social platforms, evaluate and ensure images on your digital/social platforms are reflective of your workforce.
  • Have you looked at what your reputation says about you? If you’re hiring people to build an inclusive culture, you’re on the right track. Truly valuing the input from your diverse team members in equal weight utilizes all team members’ skill sets and improves your organization. It is more likely you will be viewed as an organization women and diverse candidates would want to work for.

If you haven’t questioned or evaluated any of these practices, it’s time to do so. Being an attractive employer to as many candidates as possible is the starting point. Congratulations on considering possibilities to improve your business by improving your workforce through conscious efforts towards diversity.

Ann Simmons Nicholson is the CEO of Simmons Group, simmons-group.com. An expert in HR and OD with over 30 years of experience in all aspects of talent and people management, she is also an officer and board member for Global Gaming Women (globalgamingwomen.org), whose mission statement is to support, inspire and influence the development of women in the gaming industry.