Looking for a competitive advantage? Start hiring women
By Joel Dandrea26 October 2020
A good salary, decent benefits and an opportunity to pursue a long-term, worthwhile career certainly isn’t gender specific nor industry specific. Men and women alike desire the chance to work within a job that pays well and provides a sense of both purpose and fulfillment. It’s long been known to those already in construction and transport careers that these types of jobs provide all of the above, but women only make up about 10 percent of these industries overall.
With research pointing to the fact that companies who leverage a more diverse workforce almost always realize improved financial performance – and with organizations industry-wide still in search of reliable, motivated workers – now is the perfect time for companies to start thinking about how to bring more women into the ranks.
Ultimately, the construction and transport industries have the opportunity to recruit, and retain, more women – for the better. Women can bring impressive physical labor skills, new ideas and perspective, along with other humanitarian considerations, to a workplace.
But what could be different is how we go about attracting and recruiting women overall. First and foremost, job listings should emphasize your company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, even going the extra mile to point out benefits like parental leave and child-care subsidies. It’s also important to note that a job description is often the first interaction/engagement you’re going to have with a potential employee – male or female – so give careful thought to your audience. One example comes from LinkedIn’s Talent Blog – which warns about using words like “rock star,” “ninja” or “stud,” or even industry speak that could confuse and/or intimidate.
To that end, women are more apt to not apply for industry work because they don’t feel they’re qualified. Which informs us that we should be reaching out more to them in an effort to dissolve some of those fears and open up avenues of communication. It’s not uncommon for a man to look at a job description and know that he’s done “most” of these things, so he can likely figure out the rest via training and onsite work. But for females, there’s often a tendency to feel that they need to have 100 percent mastery of the requirements, or they shouldn’t even apply.
There’s also a lot to be said for knowing what to look for – and remaining open to possibilities beyond what we conventionally seek out in a candidate. Obviously, there are certain technical boxes to check off, but we should pay attention for other valuable qualities, like leadership instincts, interpersonal skills, positive energy and a desire to understand and evolve within the role.
Another effective way to reach out to potential female candidates is to include women in the hiring process. Perhaps, if possible, some or all of the company reps handling a certain part of the interview process are women. It will make it easier for candidates to see themselves working in this environment – or the industry overall.
Culture is another key facet: it should be apparent that your efforts to attract, hire and hopefully retain female employees isn’t just window dressing – but rather, permeates through the company overall and remains a priority at every level.
Once hired, challenging roles and opportunities for growth should be equally available to both men and women employees. Not only will this strengthen the internal structure of your workforce, but word will get out, and you’ll likely see more women candidates as a result.
At the end of the day, women bring a fresh point of view to construction and transport ideas, plans and projects – enabling a company to serve a wider population. It’s noteworthy that we’re seeing a more diverse client base in construction and transport, with a wider range of needs. Gender-inclusive teams will have an easier time discerning those needs. And you’ll likely enjoy an easier time securing business as a result.