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Having a “Pipeline” Problem? Maybe it’s your website.

Here are 5 quick tips to ensure your website is attracting the female candidates you want to hire.

Your website is your company’s ambassador to the public. Job seekers, clients, prospective customers, will all search your website to understand your brand. Job seekers, in particular, will look to see if it’s a fit. If you are a company in a STEM or historically male-dominated industry, you especially want to pay attention to how your website communicates your commitment to diversity.

Tech companies, for example–whether a start up or the world-dominant Google–have had a difficult time recruiting and retaining women. Given that fewer women go into the field in general, companies need to do more legwork in recruitment to be sure; strategic recruitment efforts will bear fruit.  But companies also need to clinch the perfect candidate once they find her. Websites say a lot to the prospective candidate:  whether your company will give her the appropriate challenges, understand her personal identity needs, be a safe space, and support her efforts toward advancement.

Ellevest, a financial investment advisory startup, is an example of a company website designed to attract women. Granted, this tech start up is for women—their clients are (I imagine) exclusively women as they have designed their investment strategies to meet the particular financial circumstances of women. But take a look at their “feminized” version of the tech start up essentials. They offer a “chocolate drawer and wine fridge” instead of the typical “snacks at the office”; they offer dinner and rides home (hello, safety) if staying late at the office.   Other benefits are pretty standard for the industry, but in offering female versions of “snacks” they put forth a strong symbol that this is a workplace that recognizes and supports women.

Notice Ellevest’s visual images as well. Their images of their office are soft – cut flowers and shaggy decorative chairs make their business space chic and homey. At the same time, they don’t compromise on excellence (why would they?). It is clear that they have a targeted and superior product that helps women achieve their financial goals. As a woman, I not only want to invest with Ellevest, I want to work there.  Leadership can indeed look and be feminine.

Most startups are not exclusively marketed for women, so certainly Ellevest is unique. But some important lessons can be learned from their public persona about how to attract women to your workplace. Here are some quick tips to ensure your commitment to a gender-diversified workforce is apparent on your website. Mind you, your public face will ideally reflect your company’s real commitment and culture as well.  Be sure it does.

  • Focus on people. The top companies for diversity recognize their employees on their website. For example, present photos of your employees accompanied by a brief biography.  Even include some words about their professional and personal achievements and interests. For a startup example, refer back to Ellevest’s page at https://www.ellevest.com/our_story. A large company like Ford also demonstrates this idea: http://corporate.ford.com/careers/profiles.html.  In short, show your company is committed to people. Share your employees’ stories and successes.
  • Check your website for gendered language. Be aware of the language used on your website, especially in your company description and job announcements. A recent study shows certain words to have more affinity with female job-seekers– words such as community, effective, engagement, and relational.  “Masculine” language tends to include words such as dominant, competitive, networks, boasting, etc. Do a language audit of your website and job postings and adjust any gendered imbalance.
  • Have a link to diversity somewhere on your homepage. There should be something obvious on or linked to your homepage that explains your company’s commitment to diversity. A written statement from your CEO is a great way to demonstrate this, and/or you might have diversity as one of your company’s stated goals (this could be under an “About us” tab, for example). Include specifics– benchmarks, strategic plan, etc.–if possible.  Put your commitment to diversity out there.  Make it part of your public image.
  • Emphasize community service. If your company gives employees community service time, supports grants or prizes related to diversity, or anything of this sort, be sure to link this to your homepage, too. Building and broadening relationships through community work is a great way to emphasize your diversity commitment.
  • Use collaborative images. Do your best to highlight not just individuals, but also diverse groups working together. Post a team photo–  perhaps one where the photographer catches your team in action. One such image speaks more than words. It says your company is a place where people are valued, where people work together, and where they relate effectively across difference.

Do you have other ideas about how to demonstrate diversity commitment on a website? Leave them in the comments below!