What is the Secret of Recruiting More Women into our Organization?

Q: What is the Secret to Recruiting Women For Jobs Traditionally Occupied by Men? We are attempting to recruit more women for jobs as outside sales representatives with our firm. This is a position that has been predominantly occupied at our company by men. In the interest of diversity, we are eager to interest more women in these roles. Thus far, job boards and women-focused job sites have been little help. How else can we publicize these positions and reasonably assure ourselves that we will be able to recruit good candidates? (Margaret H., President; Dallas, TX)
A: Many employers recognize the advantages of forming a gender-balanced workforce. A diverse group of employees, composed of both women and men, can create a more effective, productive and cohesive organization and deliver a wide range of capabilities at multiple service levels. Recruiting women for nontraditional positions may pose challenges but can be accomplished with some creative ideas.
The first step is to analyze the position, along with your recruitment process. Review the job description and job postings. Make sure the functions and responsibilities are neutral and geared to attract to both women and men. Then, partner with the hiring department to develop clear goals to recruit more women. Make workforce diversity a corporate priority and market any prominent roles played by women in the organization.
Involve women in every step of recruitment. During the interview process, give potential women candidates the opportunity to meet women in the organization who can share their views and experiences.
Blend traditional and new recruitment methods. Continue to advertise on gender-specific job boards and to search posted resumes, and use online career centers to attract candidates from your targeted audience. Invite current women employees to accompany human resources to trade expos that attract large numbers of women. Market "women-encouraged" messaging at various events; and showcasing women in a variety of roles at all levels of the organization. You can also launch a creative "ambassador" or employee referral program, encouraging staff to recommend women candidates for your sales jobs.
Use company newsletters, press releases and your corporate Web site to profile the extraordinary work of women at your firm, including promotions and other success stories. Partner with educational institutions, trade associations, women-focused organizations and bloggers to identify potential women candidates.
Streamline recruitment by moving the application process online. Resumes of people that match the job criteria can be quickly identified through algorithms that help you select the most qualified candidates.
Implementing these strategies will help your company fill the roles traditionally dominated by men and cultivate a more diverse and representative workforce. Women are out there and eager to work, especially for organizations that support and reward their efforts.
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George F. Mancuso