Maisha Hagan helps women in male-dominated industries strategically position themselves for career growth and promotion. She was recently a guest speaker on Randy Goruk’s "Leadership and Learning" podcast where they talked about ways that leaders in the building materials and construction industries can attract more women to their organizations.
Here are three key takeaways from the podcast when it comes to hiring for diversity in male-dominated industries:
1. Pare down job descriptions to the 3 or 4 most essential responsibilities.
Maisha says that there’s a lot of research into how men and women search for jobs differently. For example, you may have heard before that women only apply for jobs when they believe they’re 100% qualified for the position.
Maisha says that the consequence of this truth is that you may be unintentionally turning away qualified candidates by publishing a job description with an exhaustive list of requirements and responsibilities. The more specifics you include about what’s ‘required’ to do the job, the more likely you are to convince a woman that she’s not qualified for the job.
“This is not the time to throw in every single duty, responsibility and scenario that this job could entail, because you could be discouraging people who have never done those things before, even if they can do them,” says Maisha.
While it may sound impossible to distill a job down to just three or four essential duties (especially one in middle or upper management), it can be done. Maisha says the key is to write the job description within the greater context of the firm, focusing on the long-term purpose of the role in the company.
Maisha continues, “I think many times when companies write job descriptions, they’re lazy. And what I mean by that is, they’re looking at their most immediate pain point and writing a job description around that. And then they’re going to the internet and googling what their competitors also include in their job descriptions.”
She also adds that when it comes to women and job descriptions, she doesn’t believe women are sensitive about using language such as “he” vs. “she” as they are about the long-term viability of the job.
“Is this role something that’s going to fit within the context of a person’s career, or is it just a job? Because all candidates—whether they’re male or female—can pick up on the difference."
2. Define what “diversity” means to your organization and be very intentional about how you pursue it.
Maisha says that diversity and inclusion is a tricky topic because no one wants to admit that they’re not diverse, and in many cases they truly believe they are diverse. That’s why step one is to define what diversity means to your organization and where or how you want to be more inclusive.
For example, are you trying to bridge the gender gap? Are you attempting to hire from a variety of educational backgrounds and skillsets? Are you looking to be more inclusive of all races? The distinction matters because defining it allows you to focus on the area in which you want to make improvements.
The second step is simply to broaden your horizons with regard to that specific area of diversity.
“There’s no internal soul-searching that needs to happen; it’s just a business decision. If you decide that diversity for your organization means bridging the gender gap, then where and how do you put yourself into places and communities where women are watching, learning and congregating?”
By tackling your company’s approach to diversity with a genuine desire to help the communities you’re seeking, Maisha says your efforts will be seen as less self-serving. “People want to work for a company that’s helping individuals grow careers.”
3. Be patient.
Maisha says not to expect your applicant pool to be flooded with diverse candidates overnight.
“When you start doing this work, the people you hope to attract are nervous about being your guinea pig; they’re nervous about being your first and only female or African American employee. Be patient as people are watching your behavior and your consistency, because it might take a while before they actually respond and have the courage to go for the opportunity.”
Click or tap the image below to listen to the full recording, which is packed with lots of other advice and context for attracting women employees to male-dominated industries.