With increase in the number of female employees holding responsible positions at workplaces, it is indeed a positive indicator of gender equality. However, ensuring women get equal opportunity to compete and create an undisputable space for themselves in the organisation is just the tip of an iceberg.
The real challenge for businesses is to retain, engage and maintain female talent pipeline to ensure that talented women employees continue to move up the ladder, without any drop or alteration in decisions at the middle-level management.
If research findings are to be believed, the talent pipeline in organisations to encourage female employees to reach top positions seems to be leaking from the top. More than 80 percent of organisations have shortage of female talent in top positions, and most of the roles in demand are generally filled in by male employees because of gender bias as in most cases.
While there has been a drastic change in the trend with women leading businesses in the recent past, this change is not quite evident in the SME sector. Here are some tips that will help HR managers to successfully create a talented female pipeline in organisations.
- Create a strong business case of gender equality
Teams that are made up of men and women make good business sense, as they provide a platform for discussion of viewpoints, experience and market insights to bring out the best in decision making, problem solving and creative approaches to work.
- Lend a careful ear to employee concerns
Instead of creating initiatives and programmes that are meant to address both gender groups, there should also be room for women oriented training programmes in consent with the female employees at work.
See: How Can HR Managers Promote Women Leadership in an Organisation?
Sometimes women only programmes can get too unrealistic in nature and disconnected from the real world, wherein both sexes thrive in equality. Organising internal networking events wherein senior managers get an opportunity to interact and address concerns of other female employees on board knits the bonds of employee engagement.
- Identify potential leaks and rectify them
By the time, a women employee reaches the middle level management they become quite detached with the happenings around in the labour markets. It is required that companies recognise levels at which women need support and extra push to scale heights. This data can only be aggregated by HR managers through holding conversations with the talented female employees.
Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all approach that can be followed. There are several stages wherein women look up to HR managers and company for support, such as during the process of transition to a new role, return from maternity, relocation to another city etc.
‘What we can do to help’ conversations with female staffers helps elevate their confidence levels, and motivates them to perform better. This support should be timely and not come at a point when the employee is tired of trials and plans to put down their papers.
- Focus on building employee networks
As female middle level management progresses in their career paths, the answer lies in not just training and positioning the talented female staffers on a senior management track. During the process of climbing up the ladder of success, female employees should be provided an opportunity to build internal and external networks.
Such women should be able to get access to all stakeholders, develop sponsor relationships with individuals, and be provided with sufficient networking opportunities that allow cross-level relationship to be built during progression phases in career.
Some of the ideas could include a networking lunch or dinner with female senior and mid-level management employees and individuals can utilise this time for discussions with senior leaders. Alternative ways of listening to employees should be devised instead of following the pattern through year-ends or conventional mid-year reviews, and employee engagement survey.
It is only by supporting the female staff bottom up, can we create a successful female talent pipeline and productive workforce holding responsible positions on top.
Also read: Female brain drain in Asia – why advancing gender diversity is an economic imperative
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