Candidates with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) backgrounds are amongst the most sought out today, as employers seek out people with specialised skillsets to fill highly technical positions. However, when recruiting these candidates, many companies fail to achieve a gender balance. Today, diversity is more important than ever, especially as inclusive workplaces generate more productivity and revenue.
There are many obstacles for recruiting and retaining women in these male-dominated industries, and these become more apparent the higher the positions are in seniority. Despite the obstacles, progress is being made by certain companies, proving that it is possible to create more opportunities for women in STEM. From tried and tested strategies, we’ve listed the top tips for attracting and retaining women in STEM!
Creating a diversity strategy has to be both a long-term commitment and investment. Change doesn’t happen overnight, it requires persistent, long-term action to see results. It is also important to understand that the lack of women in STEM fields is a complex, multifaceted issue, that will need a multifaceted plan. By knowing and understanding this, it will be possible for leadership teams to better create a multi-year strategy which will achieve their objectives.
As well as creating long-term, multi-year strategies, it can also be useful for companies to publicly state their goals in order to create a higher level of accountability. This will also demonstrate that a company is committed to diversity, which will help with both their reputation and attract a wider range of candidates.
Once a company has decided to make a long-term investment and created a strategy to attract women to roles within STEM fields, the hiring and interview processes shouldn’t pose an obstacle. Although you may not recognise bias within the hiring process, implicit bias may be embedded in job descriptions, interview questions and interview attitudes. It is worth closely evaluating every stage of your hiring process to ensure that implicit bias is not present. There is software available for companies to ensure there is no biased language within job descriptions and application questions.
Diversity and Inclusion go hand-in-hand. It is crucial to have an inclusive working environment if your diversity strategy is going to work. Women seeking roles within STEM fields will not be attracted to your company if it does not have an inclusive reputation, as well as not being able to retain staff. As well as planning a diversity strategy, focus on creating an inclusive environment within the workplace a top priority. Inclusion initiatives, employee resource networks, leadership development programs, workplace flexibility, mentoring and community engagements programs are all ways to create a more inclusive workplace.
Hiring women in male-dominated fields will always present challenges, but it is both in businesses and employees interests to have an inclusive and diverse workforce. By following the tips in this blog, organisations can begin creating diverse, innovative workplaces where women will thrive.