The COVID-19 pandemic changed the world of work forever. But not all disruption was created equal.
This is bad for society as a whole, as well as business outcomes. Diversity of thought is proven to be good for business. For instance, McKinsey research has found that $12 trillion will be added to global GDP if 2024 if the gender gap is narrowed, while data from The Pipeline found that having more women in leadership would lead to $900 million in pre-tax profit for each FTSE 350 company.
UNLEASH and hireEZ’s survey of 150 HR leaders found they are aware that gender parity needs to play a role in diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) policy, but that achieving it is a challenge.
52% of the 150 HR leaders surveyed said gender parity plays a major part in their DE&I strategy – with just 10% saying it isn’t a priority. In addition, 88% said that gender parity was at least a minor challenge.
As it stands, HR teams’ DE&I strategies are focused on:
But it is clear that this not enough, given that barriers to gender parity remain. The biggest challenges are the lack of qualified talent (43%) and no data or insights into the scale of inequality (35%).
The UNLEASH and hireEZ research further found that 74% of organizations are struggling to hire right now – this is primarily because they are losing candidates to their competition (16%), talent pools (17%) and skills shortages (23%).
Rethink recruitment to drive equity at work
According to UNLEASH and hireEZ, this combo of gender inequity, skills and talent shortages is creating a “perfect storm”, which “demands new approaches to hiring that help circumnavigate these shortages and the tough competition to fill vacancies”.
Steven Jiang, CEO at hireEZ, added: “The systems and strategies that recruiters use today were built to support a market that just doesn’t exist anymore. Recruiters need to be proactive and strategic than ever”.
The report continued: “Many people would love an opportunity but perhaps don’t know it yet. And we know that when it comes to gender diversity and women in particular, the sense of imposter syndrome and other internalized barriers can prevent them from putting themselves out there for roles they potentially feel are beyond them.”
Beyond recruitment, hireEZ and UNLEASH’s research suggests that HR teams remember that diversity is not just about talent acquisition; successful DE&I policies support women to move up the ranks.
So, to overcome this gender parity challenge, and to retain their female workers, organizations need to get laser focused on mentorship and coaching. Currently, just 30% of HR leaders surveyed say they offer a formal mentoring and 28% offered formal coaching, while 17% offered neither.
Another solution is to think about internal marketplaces to ensure equitable access to promotions and lateral moves in the organization. This is something that pharma giant Novartis is doing really well, and it ties in closely with its commitment to inclusivity and psychological safety at work.
Another piece of the puzzle is data and analytics. The saying goes ‘what gets measured, gets done’, and it is crucial that employers and HR teams track their progress towards gender parity continuously, and that they listen to employee feedback on the success of DE&I policies.
This links back with the ultimate need to be proactive on hiring which, the report suggests, requires a shift in mindset for many HR leaders, practitioners and teams.
Candidate pools might be shifting – and within that the number of women available to hire. But those are the people currently searching for a new role. What about all those that could be a candidate and just don’t realize it yet?
With a new, more proactive approach, more woman could become part of the hiring process. And growing that candidate pool carries exciting potential for gender parity and hiring for the future workforce.