IWD 2023 – How can I change the conversation?

Ange Connor

International Women’s Day 2023. My LinkedIn feed was filled with #IWD2023 posts, and there were messages, emails, and gifts acknowledging the women in our workplaces, their achievements and their contributions. There was a great buzz in our office.

On one hand you can think how far we have come; women can now vote, we can work, we can lead. Yet, on the other hand, we still have so far to go. The numbers are sobering:

47,000 women and girls were killed by their male partners or family members in 2020 – and those are only the deaths we know about

47 countries still have no repercussions for husbands who rape their wife

2.7 billion women are legally restricted from having the same choice of jobs as men

13.3% is the size of Australia’s gender pay gap

45 countries do not have specific laws against domestic violence

30% of women globally have experienced sexual or physical violence in their lifetime

** Stats provided by International Women’s Day 2023 | IWDA

As I read the IWD posts and blogs, it was easy to feel a little overwhelmed and wonder how can I influence equality, how can I make a meaningful difference. But it’s the little things that we do day in and day out that can make a big difference and create change.

In my world that looks like building great workplaces for women too. Here are two of my thoughts and ideas on how a little tweak to your recruitment and HR function could have a big impact on helping your workplace achieve equity, close the gender pay gap and support women’s careers to thrive.

Salary Expectations

When recruiting for clients, I am regularly asked about what the shortlisted candidates are currently earning; what their current salary is. When we ask this question, are we contributing to the gender pay gap issue? If we have a male and a female being considered for the same job, but the woman is earning $10k less in her current role, does what she is currently earning lead us to offer her less if we offer her the job over the male candidate? In many instances, salaries are formulated on offering a little bit more than what the candidate is currently on. Without even realising it we can end up contributing to the gender pay gap.

Have you considered that maybe the female candidate is underpaid in her current role so is starting from a lower base? Maybe she took a lower pay rate previously to get a foot back in the door after being out of the workplace raising a family. Maybe the female candidate is not as confident asking for what she truly believes she is worth because she really needs/wants this job to be able to progress in her career, so she pitches herself at a lower salary. When we base our salary offer on what the candidate has been earning previously instead of the value of the job in the marketplace – the value of the skills and expertise to do the job, we risk contributing to the gender pay gap.

Recruiting more women

A conversation I frequently have when recruiting for positions is “I’d really like to recruit a woman to this role.” It’s said with the best of intentions. The CEO, the HR Manager, the hiring manager have the best of intentions; they are genuinely wanting to recruit women to the business, they are conscious that the business or team might be male-dominated and they are striving for gender diversity.

However, it’s the conversation that comes after this question that is the most important part. What are we going to do to attract a woman to this role or to the business? It’s all well and good to want to recruit women, however, sometimes how we structure the role and/or what we do through the recruitment process deters women from applying. Taking a look at the job and how it’s structured may be deterring some women from applying; the hours of work, the workload, the location. The company brand can also help or hinder recruiting women. When a candidate does some research on the business, what story does your website and social media tell? The photos and images of your people say a lot about who you are, what you value and how you do things. An image of predominately men in suits, arms crossed, more serious than smiling, and being welcoming may be a deterrent.

Wanting to recruit more women to your business needs a strategy; a plan, to remove the obstacles and the deterrents to encourage women to apply. On the flip side, I’d encourage you to be careful with recruiting women for the sake of meeting a quota; for some females there is also nothing worse than feeling like you have been given the job because you help tick a gender quota box rather than being valued for the skills and expertise you bring to the table.

Although IWD has come and gone for another year, there are many things we can do today, tomorrow, next week, and next month to help make our workplaces more inclusive.

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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