Why We Need to #PressforProgress in the Labor Market

The theme of International Women’s Day this year is #PressforProgress. It’s all about taking action to commit to a gender parity mindset, and using our collective influence to power equality around the globe. We’re using this day to take a closer look at the state of women’s representation in the labor market, and consider new and innovative ways employers and job seekers can help create workforce gender equality.

Gender Inequality in Today’s Market

The U.S. labor market has made significant strides toward achieving gender equality, but there’s still a ways to go until women will be represented equally. Women currently only make up 46.8% of the labor force, and women are even more starkly underrepresented in certain industries. Women make up a mere 29% of the science and engineering workforce, and only 26% of people in senior business roles are women.

A number of factors likely contribute to the lack of women in these fields. Hiring biases may keep women out of the running for promotions and leadership roles, and women may feel tentative to choose male-dominated majors or industries. What’s heartening to see is that more and more programs are being created to draw women and girls into these once-insular industries.

Equality Benefits Everyone

In addition to expanding women’s career prospects, fostering gender diversity contributes to better company performance at all levels. At the leadership level, increased representation has been linked to increases in overall company performance. Company-wide diversity has also been shown to increase company performance, and on a more granular level, individual teams that are diverse tend to perform better.

What’s clear from ZipRecruiter and others’ data is that having a diverse team leads to an overall boost in performance, yet women are still underrepresented in a range of industries. The question is, how can companies hire the women they need to achieve a workforce that includes men and women equally?

How to Hire More Women

It turns out that women want many of the same things that men want from their job: paid time off, a competitive salary, and opportunities for growth. One additional perk that might entice female candidates is a flexible working schedule, that allots them the time and flexibility they need to care for their families. Companies that offer competitive salaries and these fundamental benefits have taken the first step toward recruiting more women.

Next, companies need to create a fair recruiting process that doesn’t deter women from applying or prevent them from getting hired. To determine if your company has a representation problem, look at your analytics pipeline and determine if women are being hired at a lower rate than they are interviewing or applying. If women are applying and interviewing but not getting hired, some hiring biases are probably at play.

To help prevent these biases from influencing hiring decisions, integrate women into the hiring process wherever possible. Including more women will bring a fresh perspective and show prospective candidates that women are valued members of your organization, which could make female candidates more eager to work for you. This same logic can be applied to hiring more candidates who are members of other underrepresented groups, like racial or ethnic minorities and people from the LGBTQIA+ community.

If the problem is that you’re not getting enough applications from women, your job posts could be the reason. Using gendered words and phrases in active job descriptions can deter people from applying if they feel like they’re not the intended audience. Review your job posts, and make sure that you’re using syntax that is welcoming to all candidates.

Simple Solutions Make a Big Difference

Building a workforce that equally represents all genders is definitely a challenge, and it’s one that some of the most forward-thinking and innovative companies struggle with. There are many ways to approach the task of recruiting and hiring more women, and many of them are more simple than people might think. We suggest creating non-gendered job posts, including more women in the interview process, and examining where in the hiring pipeline women are being cut to begin building out a more equal workforce. It’s these small steps that could make a huge difference.

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Written by

ZipRecruiter's former Chief Economist, Cathy Barrera is the founding economist of Prysm Group, a leading blockchain economics and governance design firm.

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