How To Win The War For Female Talent

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female talent

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Romy Newman
Romy Newman
June 23, 2024 at 10:59AM UTC
How are companies going to win the war for female talent? By building flexible workplaces.

The good news: in the past 24 months, most leading companies have acknowledged that gender diversity is good for business. In addition, outside stakeholders - including activist shareholders - are amping up the pressure for increased diversity, and encouraging companies like Google, Accenture, and Slack to report on their internal diversity metrics. This added focus on gender diversity means more and more companies are thinking about how they can compete for the best female talent.

So what are the reasons that women select one job over another? Fairygodboss asked 100 college-educated women how important various factors were in selecting their most recent job. Overwhelmingly, the #1 most important factor in selecting a job was compensation -- which is in line with other studies that have been published, including this recent study published in HBR, which says that the primary reason millennial women leave their jobs is because of compensation.

Interestingly, the second most important factor to women in choosing a job is flexible hours. We found this result to be quite intriguing -- particularly because touting flexible hours is not generally a major focus of employers in their recruitment marketing activities. Flexible hours were an important criterion for women across all ages, and whether or not the women had children.

Historically - especially in the tech space, where the war for talent is most acute - perks such as free lunch, on-site gyms, kegs and even nap pods (?!) have been trotted out to attract young talent. Yet the Fairygodboss data shows that amenities and perks land at the very bottom of the list for women of all ages.

While recently there has been much focus on the so-called “maternity leave arms race” (which we applaud and track!), we think it’s time for companies to start thinking about their formalized policies with regard to flexible working. In particular, it would seem to make sense for companies - especially those in technology - to figure out how their technology platforms can help support a more flexible workday.

This notion that employers should focus on more flexible work hours is a critical one, and perhaps it's an issue that doesn't get enough focus. Fairygodboss advisor Joanna Barsh, who is director emerita McKinsey & Company, recently published a study called “Mind the Gap: Young Leaders Show the Way.” Barsh says, “based on recent interview-based research I conducted with 120 companies, flexibility will become the norm for employers who want to win the war for talent. Working mothers are being joined by working fathers and Millennials whose lives demand it."

This Spring, Fairygodboss will introduce a new tool that employers can use to recruit talented, ambitious women into open positions at their companies. We hope this research will provide greater insight to employers about the qualities, programs and benefits that will help them attract the highly qualified female candidates they're seeking.

View the complete results of our research on job-seekers here.

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