Since 1999, women's labor force participation has declined in the U.S. At the turn of the millennium, 60 percent of women were active members of the workforce. By 2015, the rate had dropped to 56.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
No single factor is to blame for this downward trend. An aging baby boomer population, fewer taboos concerning stay-at-home dads and longer educational trajectories are all at play, in addition to countless other developments.
Nevertheless, a diverse workplace is essential for cultivating new ideas and innovation. Here are a few ways employers can improve how they're viewed by women job seekers:
Provide a solid benefits package
In 2015, only 35 percent of U.S. women were covered by their employer's health insurance plan, reported the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. While many married women are covered under their spouse's plan, this leaves a significant number of women without insurance or dependent on government aid. Likewise, women between the ages of 19-26 may be covered as a dependent of another policy holder.
Employers who can provide a stable, robust benefits package may see an uptick in the number of female job applicants they hear from. In fact, Harvard Business Review reported that health, dental and vision insurance top the list of benefits most valued by job seekers. In fact, the majority of job seekers said that they give health benefits "heavy consideration" when contemplating a job offer.
Use gender-neutral language
Gendered language is often thought of strictly in terms of words that directly indicate the subject's biological gender. However, many words frequently found in job listings are commonly perceived as gendered, even though that may not be the writer's intention.
For example, Forbes Magazine noted that the word "ninja" appears often in job listings for computer programmers. In fact, instances of the word grew by 400 percent between 2012 and 2016. Because Americans tend to view ninjas as masculine, this word may dissuade women from applying for the position. Awareness of these types of connotations can help employers write job listings that appeal to all genders equally.
Clean up your employer brand
Today's job applicants don't just apply to any companies that are hiring. As Fast Company Magazine reported, 80 percent of job seekers research employers online before they even consider applying for positions.
"In today's tight talent market it is critical for companies to attract top talent across all demographics including women," says Kathleen Keliher, Managing Director of Beacon Hill's Solutions Division. "Women tend to be attracted to companies that openly support work/life balance, offer robust benefits, support women's causes and most importantly have strong women leadership. A company that values women and allows them unlimited opportunity to grow and contribute to the overall success of the company shows their commitment and that the company clearly sees the value a woman can bring to their organization."
In light of this, how you represent your brand online could impact whether you draw talented applicants to your business. If your company's website is peppered with gendered language, it may be time for a rewrite.
Consider these examples:
- "We're looking for a strong personality with the work ethic of a lumberjack."
- "We're seeking persuasive individuals who work well under pressure."
Both get the same point across, but the first appeals to masculine traits, and may therefore discourage female candidates. Though you shouldn't be afraid to show a little personality, be cognizant of how your word choice will be perceived by individuals who haven't yet had the experience of walking through your doors.
More often than men, women value flexible work schedules. According to Slate Magazine, 30 percent of women with bachelor's degrees opt out of the workforce after having a child. Historically - and today - the addition of a child has rarely affected workforce participation among men.
Employers who can offer flexible schedules are likely to see more women applicants. Offering a solid maternity leave program is another way to keep valuable female employees engaged in the workplace.
To learn more about how your business can improve its appeal to women job seekers, reach out to the professional recruiters at Beacon Hill Staffing Group. We'll help you find the best candidates for your open positions.
This content is brought to you by the Marketing Team at Beacon Hill Staffing Group.