6 tips for recruiting and retaining women in the workforce
While the economy appears to be steadily rebounding from the pandemic's catastrophic effects, women are having trouble regaining their footing in the labor force and preserving the gender equality advances made in recent years. New Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data showed more than 830,000 jobs held by women in all industries prior to the pandemic have yet to be restored.
Furthermore, prior to the pandemic, many fields, such as construction, aircraft piloting, and software development, had historically low female representation as it is. For example, women hold just 19% of positions in the automotive industry, where I work. As the Dealer Principal of a local auto dealership, it has been my ongoing mission to help women return to the workforce by pledging to hire 20% more females over the next three years.
Here is a list of methods to implement when hiring and recruiting women that business owners can use internally:
- Be aware: This is my motto because how can we change anything if we turn a blind eye to certain situations or never have tough conversations? I ensure my staff is aware that diversity and inclusion are major priorities for me, that I want women to be represented in every department at every level, and that I do not confine women to one department or another.
- Don’t get stuck in old thinking: Just because "we've always done it this way" or “a certain individual has done this job for years" does not exclude a new person from executing the tasks in that position the same way or even better. We must always be willing to grow.
- Learn from existing women on staff: Be sure to inquire from women who were already employed at your company before you came on. Ask about how they were hired and how they secured their positions if you didn’t appoint them. Ask them how things are going within the workplace from their perspective. Your staff will not only feel heard, but they will get more comfortable approaching you with new proposals and ideas.
- Reach new audiences: Place advertisements outside of usual employment channels to gain access to a diverse range of candidates, including women. We aim to hire employees' friends and even provide a bonus if they refer someone who stays for six months, which has proven to be quite successful.
- Hire from within: I look at the jobs that many of our tenured female employees have been doing and talk to them about future opportunities. I enjoy hearing their thoughts and providing them with new perspectives on what success can look like. When recruiting women, sometimes all it takes is explaining other career paths or providing an example to understand that there is another path forward.
- Empower your female employees: The monthly sessions I organize on women empowerment are open to all staff members. Our goals, problems, and potential solutions are discussed as well as both positive and negative developments and potential improvements. Men frequently attend these sessions, so it's helpful to hear other perspectives. We cover a wide range of topics, have guest speakers, and engage in team-building exercises.
I've been able to prioritize hiring more women, recruiting women and improving the representation of women in the automotive industry while maintaining operational continuity and profitability in my business. These fundamental guidelines can help organizations in every industry attract top talent and promote a level playing field.
Author: Whitney Yates-Woods is dealer principal of family-owned Yates Buick GMC in Goodyear.