How to build your female talent pipeline
There is not one industry or organisation that is not faced with the challenges of building gender balanced workplaces, addressing gender pay gaps and having too few women in positions of influence. And yes, companies are taking great steps to build programs/polices with female and family needs at the core. But, for all the steps forward the reality on the ground is this:
1. A war on talent, as companies pick from a finite pool of female candidates as they attempt to close the gaps and
2. Extraordinarily slow progress to workplace equality (given singularity is predicted in 27 years, makes you think we can move a little faster than 200 years?)
One of the biggest gaps we see is that the programs/policies miss a large section of the market, the readymade talent pool of career returners that are currently overlooked by current recruiting processes. Recruiting women post career breaks is a vital part of making progress towards whatever goals your organisation has in building sustainable and equitable workforces.
Companies are not re-filling their talent pipeline in equal portions to those that are leaving. And the ones that are returning are starting in lower level positions meaning the climb back into this leadership pool is a long journey. Hence why progress is slow, and the leadership talent pool will always be challenging to fill.
Proactively bringing these women back into the workforce is one way that we will facilitate leadership equality faster. From our research professional women who have had a career break sit in one of 5 groups:
Looking - They are in the process of looking to return to their careers now or sometime in the future. This group is motivated to restart from where they left off.
Returned - they have returned to their career post a career break (statistics tell us 65% will end up working below potential)
Done with Corporate - generally disillusioned with the corporate workforce and its inflexibility and have taken a "job" (lower paid/lower level).
Start up - They have started their own business, driven by desire to follow their passion and strive for a work life balance on their own terms.
Stopped - Priority focus has been given to the primary carer role and voluntary work.
The key thing to note is that these groups are not set in stone and many are the consequence of the struggle to re-enter and the inflexibility in mid-senior roles. Most start the process wanting to return to their careers and work in roles that utilise and recognise their skills.
What that tells me is that businesses have an opportunity to entice them back, support their return and remove the bias that exist in current recruitment processes that are influencing these outcomes.
Hiring manager will continue to have restricted talent pools to draw on, unless more effort is made to increase the overall size of the talent pool. We need to add more women, not just move them around between companies. The talent is out there we just need to be a bit more creative in attracting and supporting them back in.