Carla is the breadwinner in her family. She holds an executive-level sales role in the Bay Area, managing about 40 people, and is the mother of two children under the age of 10.
For most of her 10 years at the company, Carla has been very happy with her job. But recently, new management has revamped the organizational structure, and many of her close friends and colleagues have left. Carla is starting to dread going to work on Sunday evening, so she has started looking for a new job.
In many ways, Carla (a friend whose name has been changed) is representative of many women in the work force. According to recent research conducted by my company, Fairygodboss, salary is the dominant driver of purpose and satisfaction for men at work. When men move jobs, they do so explicitly because they can earn more money elsewhere.
On the other hand, women are far less likely to job hop, and when they do, it's because they feel dissatisfied with their current situation. Of course, salary and benefits are important to them--but at work, women's job satisfaction depends on human connections and gratifying work. Latent sexism or sometimes even outright harassment can also lead women to have less comfortable work experiences on the whole than most men may have.
Therefore, when women look for jobs, assessing their future day-to-day experience is a critical part of the process. In other words, women want to understand the "day-in-the-life" and feel an emotional connection with their prospective employer.
Understanding that female jobseekers are influenced by very different factors is essential for every company that wants to bolster gender diversity in its ranks. Companies that have been successful have been highly deliberate in their approach to capturing the attention of female jobseekers, especially in these three ways:
1. Engage in storytelling.
If you want more women to apply for jobs at your company, you'll need to think about how--and where--to bring your culture to life. Top employers are already putting this best practice into effect.
For example, consider the "We Are Cisco" social campaign and Web page recently created by the team at Cisco, where prospective employees can watch a video, read blogs, and learn about benefits and perks that address not just financial but also emotional needs. The site highlights a "Fun Fund," or dedicated budget to be spent each quarter by teams for celebrations or fun activities.
A similar leader in this storytelling space is Goldman Sachs, which has created an entire portion of its site devoted to "Women at GS." The team there understands how important it is for female jobseekers to understand exactly what kinds of jobs women at the company have, and what they get out of them. Bios and interviews are presented with each of the women.
2. Create an emotional connection.
GE made waves this Spring when it unveiled a new campaign called "Balance the Equation." As part of a bold, stated objective to have 20,000 women in technology positions by the year 2020, GE commissioned a high-production video and television commercial to air during the Grammy awards.
It raises the question, "What if we treated scientists likes celebrities?" and makes a celebrity out of groundbreaking physicist Millie Dresselhaus. At the end of the 30-second spot, GE highlights current female employees in science or engineering roles. The video is emotive and powerful, and hard (at least for me) to watch without getting chills.
Companies that really want to engage women along the jobseeking journey will stretch out a hand with elements or communication that play to women's emotional nature. And it's clear, in this respect, creativity and EQ are a plus.
3. Make ambassadors out of your current employees.
Our research also highlighted how connections from friends and family are an essential data source for women as they search for new jobs. Several forward-thinking companies have honed in on the important role that existing female employees play in helping to recruit women.
For example, Ericsson has a notable social advocacy program grounded with employer branding. Its social advocates receive thorough training on how to represent the brand and their experiences via social media. "By opening our employees' networks and enlisting their endorsement on social media, our impact is probably 10 times what it would otherwise be," says Lisa Smith-Strother, a senior director at the company.
Employers who want to create the best and most diverse work forces should start thinking immediately about how they are representing their work culture and values to prospective employees, and in particular women. And they will need to become highly proactive about communicating their messages where women feel comfortable and are most receptive.