Women in the Workforce: How Gender Diversity Can Benefit Your Business

March 18, 2014 at 6:00 AM by Kathleen de Lara

gender diversity For over 100 years, women and their contributions to the good of this planet have been celebrated all over the world throughout March, Women's History Month. Yet, despite the progress women have made through history, in human rights, social movements, and the evolution of the labor force, today's work industry continues to represent what still needs to be done.

To start, women make up about 47% of the current workforce — about a 10 percent increase since 1970, a few years after the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was passed in the U.S. The gain has been attributed to the 10 year peak between 1970 and 1980, in which a large influx of women were coming in at 4.3% annually. More recently, however, women's participation in the workforce has significantly dwindled, with just a slight increase of .4% each year between 2000 and 2006-2010. In addition, women continue to earn less than men — only $0.77 for every dollar made by their male counterparts. On average, this evens out to over $11,000 less each year.

As a recruiter, aiming for gender diversity in the workplace is more than just a concern of ethics and equality — it contributes to the overall performance of the company. Studies show that companies with a balance of men and women have 14% higher comparable revenue averages than less-diverse businesses. Not only do companies learn how to work more collaboratively with divergent experiences and resources, they also gain more access to a variant customer base.

Entelo spoke with Deborah Shane, a leading expert on company branding strategies and business insights, to get her take on how recruiters can improve the way they source for gender diversity in their organizations.

Entelo: How do you think companies can better their approach to hiring women, whether it be represented in wages, the ratio between men and women in the office, or with career opportunities?

Deborah: Hiring should always be based on finding and putting in place the best candidate for any position, regardless of their gender. More than ever before and especially since 2011, women are in the most opportune time to be and do whatever they want to. As the generations age out and age up, younger women are entering into new fields including technology, engineering, law, research and science. The most important ways women can stand out, get noticed and be remembered are through professional branding, purposeful networking and developing self confidence and self esteem.

Women should be clear about identifying what they really want to do, are best suited for and strategically go after and ask for opportunity. Negotiate more, ask for more. Companies can approach hiring of women better by setting guidelines for more diversified work forces, equal pay and giving more women leadership opportunities. Ultimately it’s up to women to be the best qualified and up to companies to hire the best candidate for the job and culture. Not all women want to climb the corporate ladder but women want to have meaningful jobs, help support their families, and define their own success.

E: What are some big misconceptions recruiters have when sourcing females for their open reqs?

D: Some of the biggest misconceptions are that women are 1) not serious, dedicated or capable of having a career and a family, 2) that they bring different intangible skills to the job in addition to the required ones including: listening, communication, empathy, patience, multi-tasking and, 3) they don’t need recognition and encouragement.

E: What are your thoughts on women who balance their work life and family life? And the big question: Can they have it all?

D: Yes, yes and yes! Having it all is relative to each of us. We must decide what “having it all” is to us and live it. The world of work today is full of choices and opportunities for women to design the work life that they want and need and can have. Whatever a woman’s goals, stage or place is in life, it’s up to them to decide what they want to do and move their career in the direction they want it to go.

Along with that goes doing everything they need to do to be ready, prepared, willing and capable when opportunity presents itself. Upgrade skills, engage in more social media, network with people in person, get more active in your community and industry. Work-life integration is what we all do today and balance comes from finding the very best way to integrate work, life and family for you.

deborah-shaneDeborah Shane is an expert on company branding, integrated media marketing, and building career development strategies. She is regularly featured as a writer for Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Small Biz Trends, in which she was named a top 100 small business champion in 2012 by smallbiztrends.com. Deborah is also the author of Career Transition: Make the Shift. Check out her site at DeborahShaneToolBox.com.

What are your thoughts? Did Deborah nail it or are there still some considerable painpoints recruiters must be sure to address when sourcing for diversity? Tell us in the comments or @Entelo!

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