Competition Heats Up for Female Talent in 2019

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Romy Newman826
President & Co-Founder of Fairygodboss
May 24, 2024 at 3:50AM UTC

2018 was a watershed year for changes in the hiring and talent attraction space. Unemployment hit its lowest point in 50 years. At the same time, American companies are overwhelmingly shifting their operations - and, therefore, talent needs - to digital and technical efforts. And, a renewed focus on gender diversity has brought the spotlight on companies’ commitment to hiring women. 

Together, these factors mean that the competition to attract top female talent has never been greater.  A recent report from PwC has indicated that 78 percent  of companies are aggressively trying to hire more women. The focus on driving diversity into industries like technology and finance has leapfrogged into the forefront. And talent shortages mean that companies are looking to attract women into roles that were previously nearly exclusively for men, such as trucking

Overwhelmingly, Fairygodboss research indicates that the female candidate pool behaves differently than the male one. So, the core tactics you are employing to get “butts in seats” are not likely to be the same ones that will help you strategically attract and convince a significantly higher volume of experienced, qualified female candidates to apply to your most important jobs. 

According to the Women in the World 2018 Report from McKinsey & Co, if companies continue to hire women at the same pace they do today, the number of women in management will increase by just 1 percent in ten years. Companies that have aggressive diversity goals at the management level need to think hard - and devote resources - to hiring aggressively at all levels. 

So, what must companies do to attract great female talent? 

1. Demonstrate your commitment to gender diversity.

According to PwC, 86 percent of female jobseekers say that an employer’s policy on gender diversity and inclusion is important for them to understand before applying, compared to just 74 percent of male.

According to a Harris Poll, today 83 percent of jobseekers are doing online research on companies before deciding whether to apply for a job.

Research shows the No. 1 data point that men are researching in advance is salary. On the other hand, the primary piece of information that women are researching is whether they will be treated fairly. 

For that reason, it’s essential that companies who want to attract more female talent communicate their commitment to diversity clearly and authentically -- on their own corporate webpage, and beyond.

For example, Capital One’s career site features a letter from its CEO Richard D. Fairbank in which he asserts clearly and unabashedly how essential diversity is to the strategy of the company. Under the sub-brand #WeAreCisco, Cisco uses video and social media efforts to bring together the diverse landscape of its employees. The sheer energy and resources devoted to this initiative demonstrate the company’s unwavering commitment to a diverse workforce. 

2. Demonstrate a Commitment to Learning and Development. 

According to anonymous employee reviews left on Fairygodboss, 65 percent  of women feel that promotion standards are unequal at their company. At the same time, many women suffer from a confidence gap - which results in the often-acknowledged phenomenon that while men will apply to a job in which they meet 60% of qualifications, women will not apply unless they meet 100% of qualifications

Companies that want to attract more female applicants in this competitive marketplace will differentiate themselves by highlighting how female employees have benefited from employee development programs.

Employee development programs help reassure women that when they enter a new company, they will be enabled and equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to  succeed -- and also advance. 

Companies leading the way in this space include Fidelity, which showcases how the company empowers and elevates women through its financial advisor training program. In addition, IBM touts its “Building Relationships and Influence for Women” program. If female applicants know that they will be entering a situation in which they are supported and developed, they will be more likely to engage and apply. 

3. Showcase role models.

Although I’ve listed this tactic last, there is simply no effort that is more essential to companies that want to recruit more female talent than bringing their role models to life. According to that same study from PwC, 67 percent  of female jobseekers research whether a prospective company has role models for them before applying. 

When creating role model profiles that influence female candidates, companies should focus on highlighting three key pieces of information: 

  1. What does the employee’s role entail? Go beyond the title to explain exactly what the person does each day. 
  2. Why does this employee LOVE her job? (and if she doesn’t, she’s not the right person for the profile.) 
  3. What does this employee do outside of work? For female jobseekers, it’s essential to communicate that the company respects the employee’s commitments and pursuits outside of work, and that the company supports employees who bring their whole selves to work.

Companies that do an industry-leading job showcasing female role models include PwC, who uses videos to showcase these stories, and United Technologies, who showcases their diverse contributors through a dynamic photographic montage on their site. There is no message that resonates more deeply with a female candidate than one that comes directly via an endorsement from a real employee. 

Fairygodboss specializes in helping companies communicate compelling messaging that resonates with female jobseekers in this crowded marketplace. Our proprietary mix of custom content, social media promotion and employee testimonials helps companies compete to drive significant increases of qualified female candidates to their key roles -- especially in hard-to-hire spaces, including core technology and enterprise sales. And, we help companies expose their message far beyond their current audience reach - to help increase employer brand consideration and awareness.

To learn more about how Fairygodboss is helping companies including Apple, Bank of America, Squarespace and Unilever, visit

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