What younger women can do to help their organization hire more women

Sometimes younger women believe they cannot do much to help their workplace hire more women.  Earlier in careers, without much workplace seniority, it’s hard to speak out against prevailing practices or suggest others that might work better.  But there are some things they can do, very effectively, and all of them help.

For any individual hire:

  1. If the job description hasn’t been run through Textio, ask that it be done, and if you are ignored, do it yourself and show the interviewers and recruiting team the results. Its presentation of words that make men, women, or both less likely to apply are eye-opening and data-based, and therefore harder to argue with.  Many organizations use Textio, and you can suggest it to your HR or recruiting team, if you have one.
  2. If you or your women peers wouldn’t apply to the job as it is written, say why, specifically, to the hiring manager and to the recruiting staff: “My women friends aren’t going to like job descriptions that call for “studs” or “rock stars,” because to us that sounds like guys wrote the job for other guys only,” for example.  Specific feedback you can bring from another talented young woman at a competing organization is very persuasive.
  3. If a key job does not have women on the interview loop (or only as the HR or recruiting person), ask that a woman be added.
  4. When women candidates come to interview and walk past displays that celebrate team accomplishments, make sure women and their accomplishments are represented.

For your organization as a whole:

  1. Ask about your organization’s hiring metrics: not only who is hired but who is selected for interviews. Many women fall out of the hiring process at the pre-screening process.
  2. Ask how your company’s gender balance compares to the organizations with which you compete for talent.
  3. Look at open workspaces: are they dominated by a single individual’s music or visual presence? Does the workspace look as though it welcomes people with different tastes, interests, and habits, or do a few voices drown out most others?  Every job candidate coming to your workplace wants to know “will I be welcome and thrive here?”
  4. Look at the language your organization uses to describe its benefits. Is there parental leave, or maternity only?  Do the examples under flexible worktime exclusively describe women’s use of the benefit?

None of these recommendations can solve the problem of organizations, but all of them help.  And asking these questions and providing data to influence changes will help in both the short and long term.

For further guidance on how to drive small changes that make a difference over time, read Rocking the Boat: How to Effect Change Without Making Trouble.  (Sometimes, of course, you will want to make trouble, which I will address in another post.) For some guidance on what to do with difficult colleagues who resist change, read The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’tFor further reading on difficult interactions, on this and other topics,  read my own book, “Now What Do I Say?” Practical Workplace Advice for Younger Women, in paperback, ebook, and on iBooks.