Saturday, July 16, 2016

Hire the best candidate! Gender no bar.

Suppose you have 5 super talented people in your pool of applicants for a critical position. Would you be ok with someone saying you can only look at 3 of them? Would you not want to look at all 5 in a rational and impartial manner? What if this is your own brain telling you incorrect information about half of the people in your pool, and you pass them up for stereotypes that you think they fit? Or for reasons that is true for all other candidates as well, but you just aren't trained to look that way?

Many people who run small businesses and many hiring managers from companies of all sizes worry about hiring women when they are of child bearing and child rearing age. Even if they are more than qualified for the roles they are applying for. This seems to be true across male and female managers I spoke to, so I'm not complaining about men in this post, I understand the completely patriarchal society I live in.

The worry seems to stem from the short term loss in professional productivity that potential child birth will entail. A survey of 500 managers by a law firm shows that 40% of them are wary of hiring women of child bearing age, and 40% are reluctant to hire moms into senior roles. Is it any wonder that we don't see too many women in upper rungs of companies, if they aren't given the opportunities to lead when they are fully capable?

I instinctively thought of all the ways in which this can be "quickly" solved by breaking down and abandoning our long nurtured, carefully honed patriarchal mindset. But instead of going down that difficult route, a friend helped come up with more practical ideas to incentivize hiring managers to hire women into crucial roles. I list a couple below. Thoughts?

1. We could create a talent placement agency that provides businesses with replacement personnel for the 3-6 months that an employee is away on parental leave? They would also need a couple of months of overlap with the employee for training, so a 5-8 month assignment would be created, depending on the seniority of the role. Folks who like to constantly learn new skills, professionals who are trying to get back into the industry after a break, people who like short term gigs would be ideal candidates for the placement agency. Employer fears about few months of employee absence could be quelled to a certain degree this way. To further incentivize the employer, they could be allowed to choose from a pool of professional consultants in various fields, not just for the role that their employee would be taking parental leave from. This would make it easier for them get professionals take a fresh look at their company and provide valuable perspectives for them to move forward with. The organization can thus offer parental leave and encourage employees to use them fully, playing their part in creating a more equitable society.

This would make it easier for all employees to take their full parental leave and allow child rearing to become less of a mom-only job by making it easier for men to take their time off to bond with their new borns and grow as committed parents.

The temporary hires would learn a lot, would have tried a few different things, and have many folks who can provide recommendation at the end of a few months on this job.

The talent placement agency would get funded by large organizations that have goals for bringing more women into the workplace, and those that seek to make every parent play a vital role in raising their children.

2. Larger companies that are committed to women's rights, could provide job share capabilities for a couple of employees to share responsibility for a role. The overhead would be for the manager to interact with 2 people instead of 1, but other than that, the doubling up of talent and backup they will get from this arrangement could be a win-win for all involved. A placement platform would need to be built that specializes in placing people as pairs within organizations. It would also take care of finding a new people if an existing pair needs to break up for some reason. This could also be an ideal situation for men who are increasingly playing a larger role in their children's well being. It would make workplaces more resilient, creative and as an added benefit, family friendly.