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What women want – how to attract female talent to your company

I recently ran a training programme for a group of female shop stewards from a range of industries, ranging from transport, to manufacturing, to banking. They all faced one common challenge in the workplace: being taken seriously.

All of the shop stewards had male line managers and worked in male-dominated businesses. Eight out of the 10 felt that they were not respected at work, and two out of the 10 said they felt extremely upset by this.

In 2015, there were 8.2 per cent female versus 91.8 per cent male engineering professionals working in the UK. This was the highest female figure for the three years measured. Given these figures and the dissatisfaction expressed by women working in industry, it feels vital to ask: how we can encourage more females to pursue engineering careers?

In 2014, Network Rail sponsored a research project that looked into why females do not pursue careers in engineering. The research revealed that the biggest single influence on young people when planning their future careers is their parents.

Ask yourself these questions: would you encourage your daughter or granddaughter into the field of engineering? Would you give the same opportunities to a female consultant coming to you for a job as you would a male?

It is the answers to these questions that we need to be conveying to a female talent pool that is taking its skills elsewhere. It’s not enough to include images of females wearing hard hats and high- viz jackets in our PR; women want to know about career pathways, about why you are an employer of choice, about your values and what you stand for, about the way that you treat and believe in people, and about how life would be if they worked for you.

Companies from various industries are upping their game as the competition for female talent hots up. Take a look at KPMG’s list of 100 reasons to work for them – you might just be surprised at what they do to attract people, and it isn’t all about money or short working hours.

What are the 100 best reasons to work for your firm?

When you look at your strategy for the next five years, how have you factored attracting the best talent into it? That is the way to become an employer of choice and to be the one that stands head and shoulders above the rest.

To future-proof your business, you need to attract, recruit and retain the best people on the market and that means women as well as men. Now is the time to look at your communication strategy and get the message to market about how working for you ticks a lot more boxes than working for your competitors.

Penny Whitelock, September 2016

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