Deborah Block
10+ years of content marketing experience

At the heart of gender diversity in the workplace is your company’s ability to hire and promote great female talent. This includes women of all backgrounds, religions, ages, sexual orientations and identities. 

So how are companies reaching diverse female job seekers? To answer this head on, Fairygodboss gathered 300 leaders at Galvanize 2019 to discuss ways to improve gender diversity in the workplace in 2020 and beyond. 

Over 300 diversity leaders gathered for the third annual Galvanize in NYC

Throughout the two-day summit, leaders from Deloitte, Salesforce, IBM, Facebook, Nielsen, Google and more — including award-winning marketing executive Bozoma Saint John — identified strategies to attract and retain qualified female talent, including how to overcome obstacles. Here are the major takeaways:

Rethink sourcing.

In an effort to reexamine how female candidates are sourced, advanced and considered, Brigid McMahon, the Global Talent Acquisition Director at IBM believes that we need to think differently. “With the skills and needs of companies constantly changing as technology impacts our world, we need to instead focus on hiring people who are first and foremost able and motivated to learn.” 

Girish Ganesan, the Head of Talent at TD Bank, speaks at Galvanize 2019

Girish Ganesan, the Head of Talent at TD Bank agrees that inclusion and hiring go hand in hand. “Part of my passion and motivation at TD Bank is to make sure that what we do from a diversity and inclusion perspective is woven into our talent strategy,” he said at Galvanize. “It’s important to TD Bank that these practices never stand on their own.”

Understand the broken rung.

According to research conducted by McKinsey & Company across 600 companies, although company commitment to diversity has increased the pipeline of female talent, career advancement for women is still stagnant and there’s been little progress in the past year.

Mekala Krishnan, Senior Fellow at the McKinsey Global Institute

“For every 100 men, only 72 women are promoted. For black women, it’s even worse. And for Latina women, it’s worse than that,” said Mekala Krishnan, a senior fellow at the McKinsey Global Institute, when discussing their 2019 Women in the Workplace report.

McKinsey’s report summarized one of their largest findings: A broken rung at the beginning of a career journey prevents women from reaching the C-suite. Although men and women enter the corporate pipeline at similar rates, they advance at drastically different paces. Women of color in particular face the steepest drop off from the corporate ladder. 

This broken rung is where companies must focus their attention because it’s a central obstacle that prevents women from moving forward at work. 

To drive this point home, a recent Fortune article revealed that so few women are making it to the top of companies, that last year alone more people named Jeffrey got top CEO jobs than women altogether

So the questions become: How do you attract more female talent, particularly as the percentage of women in the workforce grows? And what do we do to ensure women are developed and that they will stay, grow and be part of senior leadership?

“At Salesforce, we believe it all starts with culture and creating a brand that is attractive,” said Ana Recio, the Executive Vice President of Global Recruiting at Salesforce. Today, Salesforce is steadfast in their commitment to developing a diverse workforce and also paying employees equally. This commitment builds trust with employees, who then seek to renew an investment with the company. 

The team at IBM is also taking a good look at how they assess and hire talent, and is encouraging hiring managers to take a look at the complete person. “If someone is qualified for a position, but not technically off the charts, they can often be better for your team because they bring a diversity of backgrounds and ideas,” says Brigid McMahon. “In thinking this way, we’re trying to change a mindset.”

Address unconscious bias: Salesforce.

Ana Recio, the Executive Vice President of Global Recruiting at Salesforce, speaks at Galvanize 2019

In an effort to open up their potential talent pool, Salesforce wanted to take a close look at what made their top salespeople so successful. Conducting an analysis of their top 100 performers, Salesforce discovered that 38% of this group did not come from an enterprise software background. In fact, their number one salesperson used to sell mattresses and their second best salesperson used to sell chocolates. 

Once they had this data, their team realized that the central characteristics among their top salespeople were three things: training, the pace of selling, and an exposure to CRM platforms. “Once we saw this, we changed what and who we were looking to hire,” said Ana Recio. “Now, we see that women are getting through the hiring process 2% better than their white, male counterparts.”

Position your brand to attract more women.

If your company does not have the name recognition of places like Salesforce, IBM or Deloitte, what can you do to attract female talent and build your pipeline of qualified women? Not having an abundance of resources, attractive benefits or ERGs in place may make it difficult to attract the best and the brightest female talent. So what do you do?

“To attract female talent, you have to start with the data,” says Ana Recio at Salesforce. “Understand what your goals are around hiring and promoting women and then look at those metrics each month.” 

Recio also recommends looking closely at your attrition. If women are leaving your company faster than men are, it’s important to reach out and ask why. 

For companies with lower brand recognition, another tactic is to create testimonials featuring successful women at your organization and showcase those stories. You can also consider offering a referral bonus to employees, with special incentives for female candidates. 

Be inclusive of all women.

The New York Times' Rebecca Blumenstein (left) on stage with Bozoma Saint John, the Chief Marketing Officer at Endeavor (right).

Bozoma Saint John, the current Chief Marketing Officer at Endeavor believes that we can’t stop working towards gender equality until women of all backgrounds are equally represented in the pipeline. “One of the biggest challenges within our sisterhood is that the efforts of feminism have benefited white women and left others behind,” she said at Galvanize. “When we talk about gender equality and pay equity, we cannot forget that this friction between women exists. I believe that it’s the responsibility of white women to bring everyone along. Let’s not stop when only some of us have reached the pinnacle.” 

About Fairygodboss

 Fairygodboss co-founders Georgene Huang (left) and Romy Newman (right)

Fairygodboss is the largest career community for women. Fairygodboss supports millions of women throughout their careers by providing them with free resources like career connections, job listings, community advice, and the hard-to-find information about how companies treat women.

Fairygodboss works with more than 130 major US companies including Apple, Capital One Financial Corporation, Cognizant, IBM, Intel Corporation, and United Technologies, helping them attract top female talent and enhance their employer brand among women. By partnering with Fairygodboss, employers can increase the number of qualified applicants to their open positions, engage their current workforce and leverage their endorsements, and share their story about why they are a great place for women to work.