2 Ways To Increase Your Company’s Ability To Retain Female Talent

2 Ways To Increase Your Company’s Ability To Retain Female Talent

If you knew there was a way to retain 47% of your female talent pipeline (instead of constantly spending time and money on recruitment), would you want to know about it?

Elevate Talent has recently hosted a roundtable discussion on how best to double a company’s female talent pipeline. The conclusion we reached was powerful: retain existing talent.

In this blog, we will explore why current attempts to retain female talent fail, and share a simple two-pronged approach to help you solve the problem.

Calling time on the revolving door

Right now, most businesses are experiencing the revolving door effect, which means women are leaving their jobs just as quickly as new female employees are hired.

If we follow the 80/20 Pareto principle, businesses spend 80% of their efforts nurturing 20% of their clients, so why don’t we adopt the same approach when it comes to our female talent? We need to invest more time and effort and nurture our existing female talent instead of focusing on recruitment.

The strive to recruit more women, reduce unconscious bias or offer hybrid work opportunities  (i.e. work from anywhere or be in the office) does not go far enough when it comes to retention. Many organisations still lose vital corporate knowledge and experience because they lose the majority of their female talent too soon (see this previous blog exploring some of the reasons why).

Companies that want to future-proof their workforce and protect their bottom line need to take immediate action if they want to stop losing their female talent.

A two-pronged approach

At Elevate Talent, we have witnessed increased retention when a business adopts a two-pronged approach (both of which ultimately inspire and empower female talent to proactively manage and progress their existing career).

The two-pronged approach includes:

  1. Networking and training opportunities. 
  2. Making it feasible for women to increase expertise via a sideways career move.

Let’s explore each in turn.

1) Networking and training opportunities

We’ve recently worked in partnership with a large engineering firm whose strategy to boost retention includes informal networking. They used Elevate Talent as the foundation on which to layer two (very successful) networking opportunities.

Networking for everybody

The first networking opportunity was for members of Elevate (our virtual training programme for future women leaders). Senior female colleagues within the engineering company were invited to share their own experiences on a variety of topics which they did in a personal, honest and transparent way.  

This helped to:

  • Bust myths around what being a leader really looks like (see this previous blog discussing why some women are apprehensive about promotion).
  • Demonstrate the diversity of skills and roles open to women.
  • Increase professional connections which lead to greater inspiration and opportunities for collaborative working and best practice.
  • Show that it’s fairly “normal” for there to be times in your career when you feel underutilised, but you could (provided your company offers it) consider a sideways career move and upskill rather than leave if promotion is not yet an option (or your first choice).

The second networking event was online.

Virtual networking forum (small group)

With a focus on highlighting diversity, the engineering company divided the women into different groups so that each one consisted of a range of cultural differences and career experience.

Each woman had an opportunity to share her voice and learn from the others. Both networking events helped support women to think more creatively about how they might progress their career within their existing company.

There is more than one way to progress your career. Tapping into other opportunities within your organisation can enrich your working week and provide valuable experience (and help increase your chances of promotion in the future).

A personal tale

When I worked in banking, I was in a meeting with senior male colleagues. They asked multiple questions about departments other than their own. I had experience throughout the company; I knew the answers to every question the men were asking, even though I was junior to them.

When women move between departments, are promoted or make a sideways move within a business, they develop greater expertise, which helps your business to thrive. Instead of spending valuable time and money on recruitment, you can maximise and retain a higher percentage of the existing female talent pool by keeping them engaged and offering them new opportunities to learn and grow.

A sideways career move is the second option your company might like to offer in order to help retain female talent.

2) Making it feasible for women to increase expertise via a sideways career move

Your company will benefit from greater employee retention if it develops and highlights a range of career opportunities within your organisation.

When an employee remains in a specific department with no scope for variety, it’s easy for them to stagnate; but when they are able to move between departments or associate with a variety of teams, they enhance their ability to communicate and see arising issues from a fresh perspective.

By creating and recognising the opportunities for female employees to make these sideways career moves, they can also expand on their business and soft skills, both of which are vital to your company’s success.

Plug the gap

Women choose to exit the roles they’re in for good reason, whether they feel they are underutilised, hit a glass ceiling or are overlooked for pay rise or promotion (see this earlier blog for negotiating tips). We know that with the right incentive, they are more likely to remain within your business.

Elevate Talent can help your company maximise its female talent pipeline through training and networking events, as well as by helping you to empower women to direct and progress their own careers (which becomes possible when your business creates the right opportunities). 

If a woman has chosen to be employed by you, then, with the right input, there is scope to encourage her to remain an asset, while reducing staff turnover and boosting your bottom line. Get in touch for support and more information.

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