How companies can attract and retain female talent

We’ve come a long way since women first took to the streets to demand their right to vote. But studies still continue to show that within many industries women are underrepresented. Meaning more can still be done to attract female talent into the workplace.

Industry-wide it’s recognised that this is the case in many engineering sectors. Driven from traditional values decades ago and a stigma that these sectors weren’t suitable for women.

At NRL we recruit thousands of people each year to support engineering projects across the UK and globally. We see first-hand the great opportunities these projects provide for female candidates. We work with engineering companies to develop diversity strategies to help them attract more women, whilst ensuring the right initiatives are in place to allow them to build their career however they wish to.

We take a look at what organisations need to consider if they’re looking to encourage more women into their business.

Representation is everything

Women may not feel comfortable working at a company where they don’t see other women in leadership positions and technical roles. They may worry about being treated differently because they’re female or believe there will be a lack of support.

Organisations should be looking at their business from top to bottom, considering what they can do to support more women to progress in their roles to become female leaders.

Equal pay for equal experience

The Government introduced mandatory gender pay gap reporting in 2017. It’s helped to highlight where organisations and sectors pay a vastly different salary to females compared to their male counterparts.

This publicly accessible information helps give female applicants insight into how women are paid, and what representation there is within the business at senior level.

For businesses to strive for true equality, the payroll calculation should be quite simple – two candidates with the same experience and responsibility should be paid the same salary regardless of their gender.

Creating an environment to encourage success

There are several initiatives that employers can establish to attract and retain females in their business.

Flexible working arrangements

Many women are juggling work and family responsibilities, and flexible working arrangements can help them balance both.

Such as flexible working hours to start a little later, or finish in time for school pick up. Knowing they can complete their contracted hours with some ability to shape those working hours around their family and hybrid working allows parents to be closer to nurseries and schools – without the stress of managing rush hour.

Opting to make full-time roles job shares can attract mothers looking to get back into work after having children.

Parental leave, fertility and miscarriage

UK employment laws ensure a standard level of support is available for people looking to start a family. There’s nothing stopping organisations extending this though or considering a package that’s more substantial.

It’s also important to cover every potential situation, such as having a clear policy for people undertaking fertility treatment. As well as defined HR processes for managing miscarriages, so people don’t need to worry about feeling rushed to return to work when they are not ready.

Structured mentor programmes

To help address barriers women may face when advancing their careers, mentor programmes can allow people to gain access to senior leaders to guide and support their career progression.

Employee committees and working groups

Establishing employee groups can also create a supportive community where women can share experiences, network, and identify

There are also some more practical initiatives that can be put in place. For example, providing easy to access sanitary products for anyone in need. As well as looking at how the business can support people who are going through the menopause and raise awareness within the business of the challenges women may face during this life changing event.

Closing the gender gap

By creating a supportive culture where women feel welcomed and encouraged to progress their careers, organisations can tackle gender diversity and attract female talent. If you’re looking at developing your own recruitment strategy to attract more women into your place of work, get in touch with our team.


The NRL Group