The CIPD said there is a great deal of support amongst HR professionals to increase the number of women on company boards. It said 89% of respondents to a recent survey said a board could be more effective with innovative and creative female perspectives as well as enhancing a company’s reputation in the wider community.
However, only half of organisations actively monitor the gender profile of their workforce at all job levels. A quarter do not gender monitor any of their workforce.
The CIPD said organisations need to foster an “open and supportive culture” to attract more female candidates. Work-life balance policies for mothers and clear career paths and promotional opportunities in middle and senior management roles are also vital.
Gender management training for male staff to tackle “unconscious bias” and foster inclusion is another HR tool.
“It has to be threaded through an organisation,” said Worman. “It won’t be speedy but you have to have the will to do it both at senior positions and line managerial level. HR managers need to be clear about what they are trying to do and why it is important.”
She said transformational policies can be lost if key executives driving the change are lost from the business and if the organisation sees bringing in more female staff as a “numbers game” not focused on hiring people with the right skills. “It’s about getting away from stereotypical thinking about who the next Janet and John in your business will be,” she said.
She said HR teams also have to “spell the changes” out to external recruitment firms. “Do they know what you are talking about? They need to see the advantage of diversity as well,” she explained. “The Davies report has fostered engagement but we need to shout more loudly to increase the pace of change.”