Winning the fight for female talent: how to gain the diversity edge through inclusive recruitment?

08 March 2017

Today International Women’s Day is being celebrated across the globe, and to mark the day PwC has released our Winning the fight for female talent: How to gain the diversity edge through inclusive recruitment research report. 

This research makes one thing clear, CEOs across the world are injecting greater urgency into their gender diversity efforts. And explicit hiring targets have emerged as a core driver in fulfilling these ambitions with 78% of large organisations saying they’re actively seeking to hire more women – especially into more experienced and senior level positions. As organisations fight to attract female talent – particularly at levels and in sectors where they’re currently underrepresented – we’re now seeing competition for female talent escalate to a whole new level.

Female talent

So in the midst of a skills crunch which sees CEOs struggling to find the skills they need, a shift towards demand for more female skills such as collaboration, creativity and empathy, and women becoming a hot commodity on the jobs market – how is your organisation going to win the fight for female talent?

Responding to female ambition with career progression opportunities is one approach that is paramount.  Globally, female millennials (born 1980 to 1995) and women just starting out in their careers rank opportunities for career progression as their most attractive employer trait. For our female respondents overall, it ranks the second most attractive employer trait while experienced female professionals who had recently changed employers said a lack of opportunities for career progression was the top reason they left their former employer (35%).

When you consider what makes an employer attractive and drives job satisfaction, women clearly seek opportunities for career progression.  Putting in place formal career progression plans, and making this a clear part of the talent brand, is one way of making sure talent are firstly attracted to, and secondly remain motivated and committed to an organisation. This will be increasingly important for CEOs as they work to tap into the complete talent market, not just half of it.

A culture of flexibility and work-life balance joins opportunities for career progression as a top three employer attractive trait for both men AND women.  Organisations must take measures to debunk outdated gender stereotypes. Traditional stereotypes, for example that over-associate career ambition with men, and flexibility with life stage, specifically mothers, are well and truly out of date and it is pertinent their impact does not unconsciously influence decisions making.

  Female talent graph


Our research also reveals that over three quarters (76%) of employers have incorporated diversity and inclusion into their employer brands – rising to 88% of employers with more than 10,000 employees. But simply talking about diversity is no longer enough. Being able to demonstrate visible diversity progress and a diverse and inclusive workplace culture is becoming increasingly important to female talent when they’re making decisions about who they want to work for.

Over half of women (56%) look to see if an organisation has made active diversity progress when deciding whether or not to work for them, rising to 61% for female career starters. And 61% of women looked at the diversity of an employer’s leadership team when deciding to accept their most recent position. Organisations need to make sure they walk their diversity talk or face contending with increased difficulty attracting female talent.

A focus on diversity and career progression alone will not be enough. Given the escalating demand for female talent, organisations are going to need to get very good at understanding where to find female talent, how to reach them, and how to attract them. A gender inclusive approach to attraction, selection and people strategies in general will be critical.

We’ve come a long way on the journey from aspiration to action with increasing numbers of women entering the workforce. But we’re still far from our destination of achieving corporate gender equality. To gain competitive edge, be a talent magnet to the modern workforce and create a sustainable talent pipeline, it’s time to think about how you’ll win the fight for female talent.

Find out more about our research at

View Aoife Flood’s profile on LinkedIn



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