While everyone seemingly agrees on the positive effects diversity and inclusion has for a company’s profitability, the tech industry continues to struggle in their hiring practices with a pipeline of talented applicants not necessarily representative of society. But more worrisome is that the diverse individuals hired are not sticking around for long. A 2016 study on diversity in the workplace reported rates of attrition for technical females to be double that of males. The evidence further demonstrates that most women would not have left had there been more on-or-off ramping options available.
Since Google first released its workplace diversity and inclusion statistics in 2014, there has been significant pressure to hire more women and minorities into roles at tech companies. While the interview process itself is an important component of hiring women to your company, the first few weeks on the job decide how long new female hires will stay with the company.
Which is why onboarding is integral to female employee retention.
The benefits of getting gender diversity and inclusion right are numerous. It has been well established through research that diverse companies outperform their competitors in revenue, creativity, and public image. Companies that prioritize gender diversity do especially well.
However, research from PWC has found that while companies talk about inclusion and diversity, 71% of millennial women feel that opportunities are not equal for all. Knowing that should change the way you approach onboarding of new female hires, but it should also affect the way HR departments deal with leadership and company culture. If your company culture is not inclusive to women, it doesn’t matter how good your onboarding procedures are, women will still avoid your company’s recruitment and leave your workforce.
Onboarding is one of your first steps in building a trusting and effective relationship with your new hire. A meticulously designed onboarding process will hopefully help retain those one in five employees who leave their job within 45 days of hire.
The first thing you want to do is prepare! Speak with female employees and gauge the perception of how women fit in. Consider any suggestions and make necessary changes before trying to hire. Hiring women into an unfriendly environment will only earn your company a bad reputation and make further recruitment more difficult. Developing a reputation as a female-friendly workplace will improve recruitment, hiring, onboarding, and further professional development
When you add new women to the team, it should be done with an eye toward your diversity and inclusion goals. Hiring women is only the first step of any gender diversity program. Equally if not more important is retaining female employees and ensuring that women are respected in the workplace. Beyond retention, the ultimate goal of gender inclusion is representation of women throughout the organization, including promoting women to management and leadership roles.
However, a recent article in The Atlantic pointed out that women are leaving tech soon after entering the industry. Women who left the tech industry cited reasons such as workplace conditions, a lack of access to key creative roles, and a sense of feeling stalled.
It’s clear that a lack of support and opportunities for advancement is frustrating women who otherwise enjoy the problem solving and fast pace of the tech world.
Onboarding and training women is not a one-size-fits-all problem. Each new employee you onboard should get individual attention, and this is doubly true for new female employees who, if they’ve worked in the tech industry for several years, will understandably be nervous about company culture and practices. Onboarding doesn’t end on the first day or week for a new employee. Instead, it’s an ongoing process of supporting women and providing opportunities for advancement to the best candidates in your company.
LISTEN to your new employee and find out their concerns. Each new employee comes to your company with her own concerns about what it will be like to work there. Make sure there are ample opportunities to talk about those concerns, not just in the first day on the job, but in the first weeks and months to come. First impressions by a new employee can be invaluable information on the state of your company.
A recent article in The New York Times , details companies are spending millions on developing the pipeline of women in STEM fields and that says Silicon Valley is missing opportunities to make simple, immediate improvements by changing their methods of communication.
Research indicates that one of the best ways for females to make a connection can speak to other women about what it’s like to work there. Building a network of women in your company helps to legitimize women and the job they do. One tactic that has worked for several companies is hiring multiple women at once to work together on a team, mitigating the challenges of sexism while providing a support network, instead of hiring women into roles one at a time.
Onboarding is an ongoing process that requires interaction, communication, and using as much technology as you possible can. If you fail to provide your employees with clear training and understanding of system processes you will leave them feeling unprepared and a feeling of being ineffective. Women already come into this situation being out of place so do your duty and make them feel right at home.