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Recruiting women needn’t feel like the ‘square peg, round hole’ conundrum

Recruiting women needn’t feel like the ‘square peg, round hole’ conundrum

Rhian Bowler / 23 Jan 2018

Rhian Bowler, the E2W Leadership Coach, shares her experiences and views on E2W’s recent paper, ‘Recruitment Strategies for Financial Institutions to Meet Gender Diversity Targets’ and explains how challenges really should be seen as opportunities.  

As the E2W leadership coach with a coaching and City HR background, I read with interest E2W’s CEO Mark Freed’s paper ‘Recruitment Strategies for Financial Institutions to Meet Gender Diversity Targets.’

The paper sets out clearly practical, focused methods for companies to address their strategies to meet gender diversity targets. 

As a company we talk to many talented women who are looking to return to the workplace after taking time out. Our experience has shown that unless individuals have kept their knowledge current, recruiters are reticent to consider them if they don’t meet 100% of the role description.

On the flip side, we hear many companies are committed to improving the pipeline of women in senior positions, and improving their diversity figures; however, our experience and conversations with women contacting E2W for recruitment and coaching services highlights the challenges many are facing, both recruiters and candidates.

We understand that challenges exist but the following points illustrate why these challenges must be overcome.

  • Identifying talented returners does take more time and effort, and the ability to ‘think outside the box’, seemingly fitting a ‘square peg, in a round hole’. During coaching conversations, women regularly share how stunned they are by how difficult it is to return after a relatively short break of up to 2 years. We meet women with incredible skills and experience, but who are struggling to return to work. It is easier to demonstrate executive presence, gravitas and potential, face-to-face, but the recruitment practices act as a barrier. E2W work hard with our corporate partners to ensure that they are implementing strategies to ensure that women returning to work after a short career break are not overlooked or missed out in the process.
  • Recruiters’ performance is often measured by ‘timed hire’ i.e. time it takes from receiving the role to accepted offer, and leaves no room for diversity. If organisations are not filtering their diversity requirements to their recruitment teams, the ‘dial’ will stay stubbornly still, and many able women will not even make the CV cut.
  • Working practices that support all staff are often not shared on role descriptions or at interview. The ability to work from home for part of the week, and to manage hours around the school run (staggered hours) make a huge difference to employees juggling home and careers. Modern technology allows us to work remotely, and is beneficial if managing global teams. There seems to be a stigma around the term’ flexible working’, whereas it now embraces many more options and benefits.

I was fortunate to meet Mark Freed when I was returning to work after my extended career break. Both Mark and Tina, founders of E2W, believe in recognising talent and potential, and giving women the opportunity to continue their career, and this passion still drives their motivation to work with leading financial institutions and support women in their careers. 

The resource of talented, capable women will remain untapped and trapped, unless organisations review outsourced recruitment practices, commit to diversity priority roles, and proactively build effective pipelines. “Think differently”, challenges Mark Freed: see the ‘square peg, round hole’ as a recruitment opportunity to collect the gender dividend rather than a challenge, and you will start to reap the benefits.

For more information, or to continue this discussion, please contact Mark Freed, CEO E2W, or E2W Leadership Coach, Rhian Bowler.

Rhian Bowler is the E2W career coach with many years’ experience of human resources and coaching at leading organisations.  She finds supporting individuals considering their options after school, identifying their first jobs, changing career paths, and returning to work after career breaks very rewarding.

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