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Know your female employees

Know your female employees

Mark.Freed / 04 Feb 2020

Know your female employees

Financial businesses have to know their customers, but few seem to put the same effort into knowing their female employees. And this is strange, because they do seem to understand the men.

I’m middle-aged and if an employer was trying to attract someone of my age with my experience, it’s unlikely they would use the same language or value proposition that they would when recruiting 30-year-olds. In fact, this is such a statement of the obvious that you may be wondering why I’m pointing it out.

Well, it’s relevant because I regularly ask hiring managers and talent managers about their value propositions for female employees. I want them to tell me why the women that they want to attract, recruit and retain should be interested in working at their firms.

No one has ever replied with words to the effect of, “Well, if we’re looking at a senior female employee, we want to know what she wants. Understanding her needs, ambitions and desires will help us explore what we can do to make this an attractive proposition for her.”

Instead, I get told about flexible and agile working, maternity and childcare policies, crèches and women’s networks. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these, of course, but as a stock answer they are becoming increasingly frustrating. They are the stereotypical needs of a woman of a certain age at a certain point in her career.  

The gender pay gap that firms are looking to close is among top-quartile earners. The industry is crying out (if you believe the D&I statements) for women to join the top ranks of organisations. Now, are these likely to be women who are attracted by a crèche or, as one firm told me recently, reimbursed transport costs for expressed milk?

I’m not demanding the world here. It’s not even a suggestion of special treatment. I just want companies to show the same care when they recruit senior women that they would naturally use with men. Surely that can’t be too much to ask for?


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