Is it even right for a company to “preferably” want a woman for a management position and to say so? Sarah Bucher, Head of Recruiting & Employer Branding at PostFinance, has a clear view on this issue: “As long as you don’t exclude men when recruiting, it is not only right but necessary. If we want to promote women and increase diversity in management, we have to target women specifically.” For example, a call for applications issued in summer 2021 triggered some controversy in external channels. The company was looking for a Head of Corporate Development to “ideally complement” a management team that consisted at the time of three men and one woman.
Diversity: “If you want to promote women, then you have to set an example”
PostFinance wants to increase the proportion of women in management positions. Sarah Bucher, Head of Recruiting & Employer Branding, outlines the measures needed to achieve this goal and explains why they often spark controversial debate.
Heterogeneous teams, different perspectives
Reactions ranged from “that’s discrimination” to “thank you for your courage and clear positioning.” She understands why the call for applications triggered controversy. “Whenever you specifically promote one gender, the other may feel disadvantaged.” She emphasizes, however, that “while there was an explicit desire to find a woman for the job, men were not excluded. This was the first time we specifically targeted women, thereby setting an example.” In a volatile and complex environment, we need heterogeneous teams able to quickly analyse situations from different perspectives and overcome multifaceted challenges.
A new recruitment format
The plan worked and the position was filled by a woman. “We received a lot of very strong applications. We got to speak with women who were not explicitly looking for a new job, but who felt like they were being addressed”. The format was also unique: the ad was embedded in a landing page with in-depth content about the job – including a video in which the supervisor talked about the skills she wanted and what it's like to work with her. The landing page was also shared with female candidates, addressing them directly, and was also included in a campaign that was shared via social media channels.
Targeted measures to achieve a higher proportion of women in management positions
In Corporate Development at PostFinance, diversity, equality and the advancement of women take high priority. Various measures are currently being developed to achieve the goal of a higher proportion of women in management positions. Among other things, managers are being made more aware of the relevant issues, part-time work models for women and men (including top sharing and job sharing) are being expanded – and women are being targeted increasingly via recruitment.
Realistic requirements, clear evaluation standards
When it comes to recruitment, Sarah Bucher sees multiple possible strategies that can be adopted. These include the tone of the advertisement with keywords that appeal to women, the selection of channels on which the jobs are advertised and a clear assessment standard that doesn’t subconsciously evaluate female candidates more strictly than their male counterparts. She also believes it is very important to ensure requirements are set out in job advertisements as realistically as possible. “Experience shows that women tend to apply only when they meet all the listed requirements – men, on the other hand, apply even when they meet far fewer of the criteria. When job adverts call for applicants who can do everything, the number of applications from women is usually lower. We should avoid this.”
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The path to a new normal
The fact that the subject of women's advancement will probably continue to trigger controversial discussions in future can hardly be prevented on the path to a new normal where women in management positions are no longer the exception. “In previous male-dominated management structures, men were often sought out for management positions as part of an almost natural process. We want to change that – with consistently clear positioning on the labour market”, says Sarah Bucher. “We are a society of around 50 percent women and 50 percent men. This needs to be reflected in our management structures, otherwise half of the population will always be under-represented.”