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5 things you can do to create a gender balanced workforce

A diverse workforce is proven to increase performance, growth and innovation, as well as improve health, safety and wellbeing. Despite this, a report published by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) in 2017 revealed that gender equality in the workplace has barely improved over the last ten years. In order for gender balance to improve, organisations need to take an active role in creating balance in the workplace. In line with the theme for International Women’s Day this year, #BalanceforBetter, we’re taking a look at some of the things you can do to start improving gender balance in your organisation.

1. Use a gender decoder software

It’s important to make sure all stages of the candidate attraction process are designed to attract diverse talent. One of the most important stages is the candidate’s first touchpoint with the role – the job advert. Without realising, many job adverts use language with hidden gender bias which can affect how people respond, with research revealing that people are less likely to respond to job adverts that use language in favour of the opposite gender.

The quickest way to check if your job adverts use unconscious gender-biased language is to use Gender Decoder software. Simply copy and paste your job advert into the decoder and it will reveal if any of the language is biased towards a particular gender. This way, you can amend your job adverts, eliminate any gender bias and encourage a more diverse range of candidates to apply.

2. Use diversity job boards

There are thousands of job boards out there, yet many organisations only advertise on the larger, more generalist job boards. However, for diversity to improve, you need to look beyond the usual places. One of the easiest ways to attract a diverse candidate pool is to advertise on specific diversity job boards. Not only are they more cost-effective, they also ensure your organisation and candidates are on the same page.

At Rullion, we advertise our roles on various diversity job boards to attract the broadest talent pool available. For example, we use Evenbreak which is designed to attract candidates with disabilities. We also advertise on MummyJobs which is designed to support new parents find flexible work opportunities. We have fostered a strong relationship with MummyJobs and regularly contribute to their events, as we recognise that returning to work after maternity can pose huge barriers for women, negatively impacting gender-balance in the workplace.

3. Hold diversity-focused events

Diversity-focused events are a great way to attract a more diverse talent pool. They provide an opportunity to network with potential employees as well as position yourself as a diverse and inclusive organisation, improving your employer brand and leaving a lasting impression which can benefit future recruitment.

We've hosted lunch and learn sessions in Manchester, London and Glasgow which focused on attracting a more diverse candidate pool, providing a forum for networking and sharing thought leadership from other organisations on the subject. We also run an events programme called #RullionTalks, that attracts a diverse pool of professionals from different skill sets. We make our candidates the star of the event, giving them the opportunity to share their expertise, experience and recent project learns with their peers. We find this an incredibly effective way to reach new talent that might have otherwise been difficult to find and engage.

4. Collaborate with a partner

If hosting your own diversity event is out of the question, there are hundreds of diversity events across the country you can get involved in. Sponsoring an established diversity event is a great way to attract candidates who you've struggled to access in the past.

For example, one of our client’s faced challenges in attracting female engineers to their organisation. While this reflected a wider gender balance issue across the sector, we made it our mission to attract more females to their engineering roles. We partnered with Equal Engineers, an organisation that connects inclusive organisations with diverse talent in engineering and technology, by sponsoring a series of their events on behalf of our client. Through this, we were able to access a talent pool that we had previously struggled to attract. We also ensured we included at least one female were possible in every shortlist. Since then, we have successfully increased the female engineering workforce with our client from 9% to 27%.

5. Promote women currently in the organisation

The rate of progress for women in the workplace has been undoubtably slow, with the percentage of women on FTSE 250 boards sat at just 23.7%. With this in mind, research has found that when women are better represented in leadership roles, more women are hired across the board, therefore, diversifying your boardroom should be the first port of call when you’re looking to make your organisation more inclusive.

Yet women often miss out on opportunities to advance their career because they believe they are underqualified for the role, meanwhile, men chase promotions they are often not qualified for. Because of this, it’s important to create a culture were all employees feel supported and have the confidence to pursue promotions. This can be achieved through building a strong internal pipeline for promotions. Once you have more women in higher level positions, you will be in a better position to attract more female candidates.