As the only woman at AdMore, my working life is a daily education into the male psyche. The intricacies of the Premier League (or Conference League for some of my less fortunate colleagues), the relative advantages of petrol versus diesel and the latest plot line of Game of Thrones – the list is endless.  I have great affection for my colleagues and men in general (I even married one and gave birth to another) and really appreciate the positive aspects of the male character: their sense of humour, their competitiveness and their penchant for giving direct and open feedback and in turn, to take it and move on without holding a grudge. However, I sometimes find myself yearning for the company of a female colleague in order to restore the balance.

This got me thinking. I have always believed that working environments are generally more positive and effective when there is an equal balance of men and women. Having worked in both male and female-dominated workplaces, I know this to be true.

This poses an interesting dilemma for HR and Recruitment professionals – one which is as old as time and still exists today. When it comes to recruitment, how do companies ensure that they achieve a balance, while still ensuring that they are hiring the best-qualified person to do the job?

I found this was a particular issue when I was a Recruitment Manager in the IT sector where there was a shortage of women entering the industry. This caused problems in some areas where, in roles which were client facing, requiring employees to build relationships and diffuse conflict situations in order to deliver on key accounts, it was widely acknowledged that women were better placed to succeed as they tended to possess the skills and behavioural qualities required. Is positive discrimination sometimes the only way to ensure equality and in turn, balance?  I don’t have the answers however my point is this – we all perform better when we are in the company of our metaphorical ‘other half’.  At the risk of reverting to gender stereotypes, male employees temper the emotional intensity of women and in turn, female employees can diffuse some of the aggression that comes with a concentration of testosterone.

Take my son’s nursery as an example. The balance has been disturbed in the last month by older children starting school (of which there were 4 girls), now leaving the boys in the majority. I received a note last night informing us that they are now having issues with the increasing tendency to play games involving guns and weapons and accompanying language – the words ‘kill’ and ‘dead’ are creeping in – the children are 3?!!!!).  An interesting insight into the nature/nurture debate perhaps but certainly an illustration of my point – by ensuring that there is an equal balance of genders, we bring out the best in each other and each bring different strengths to the equation.

I am interested to know what companies are doing to attract more female candidates (if indeed they have a policy to do so).  What are the best attraction techniques to ensure that there is a representation of both genders amongst applicants?

Until we eventually hire another female, I will continue my efforts to bring out the feminine side in my colleagues. In the meantime, I heard an interesting piece of news recently. Research in the US has discovered that groups of male mice, when in the company of just one female, are able to sing in perfect harmony….what an interesting thought!

  • Is positive discrimination sometimes the only way to ensure equality and in turn, balance?
  • What are companies doing to attract more female employees?
  • What are the best attraction techniques to ensure an equal representation amongst applicants?

Sophie Mackenzie

www.admore-recruitment.co.uk

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