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Enhancing Workplace Diversity: Strategies for Male-Dominant Industries

CXC Global9 min read
CXC GlobalDecember 21, 2023
CXC Global

Introduction: The Importance of Diversity in Male-Dominant Roles

The traditionally male-dominant roles – like male-dominant industries – are gradually (perhaps the more apt word is ‘slowly’) starting to shift away from a focus on male hiring.

And it’s about time.

Not only because gender equity in the workforce is important, but also for the proven, indisputable commercial benefits that gender diversity and equity brings.

There are countless organisations across the globe that are starting to move away from old-fashioned hiring protocols, where male candidates were the only consideration. This is evident in industries such as mining, construction and infrastructure.

Unfortunately, however, ingrained gender perceptions and old-fashioned stereotypes continue to influence and shape the education and career choices of women.

Today, we’re looking at the current landscape of gender diversity in male-dominated industries. And we’ve provided key strategies for your business to boost gender diversity for roles that you – consciously or unconsciously – typically tend to recruit men.

Current State of Gender Diversity in Male-Dominant Industries

Australia, the UK and the OECD all have labour markets that are highly gender-segregated, a situation that has been persistent over the last 20 years. Historically, the following industries have been male dominant, with a low representation of women:

Construction and Infrastructure:

Traditionally, the construction industry was male dominant, as the work was physically taxing. And although more women are entering the sector, they are still woefully low on female participation. Only 12% of the industry’s workforce are female, and only 2% of on-site roles are occupied by women.

Mining:

The mining sector is another one of Australia’s least gender-diverse, with just 20% women. Here’s an example: across all of Australia’s industries, 22% of CEO’s are women. In mining, that figure is just 12%. Mining also lags on paid parental leave: only 26% of mining companies offering it compared to 47.5% overall. (Source: MiningNews.Net)

Energy & Utilities:

This sector is overwhelmingly male-dominant too. According to ABS gender indicators, the energy and utilities workforce is comprised of 23% women. The problem here, is that the industry offers the opportunity for a broad array of skills and ways of thinking, due to its multidisciplinary nature. So, the industry has a great opportunity to broaden its talent scope.

The Benefits of Change in Male-Dominant Industries

Talent shortages are a key factor for loss of productivity and growth in the industries listed above. By taking on a broader gender hiring strategy, these industries will be more competitive, more profitable and more sustainable.

Some of the key benefits of growing gender equity in male-dominant industries, include:

  • Access to different ideas, fresh perspectives and creativity that these industries are unlikely to currently enjoy, much less consider. Male-dominant industries rely heavily on innovation – an issue that their very survival relies on. This is where women can play a pivotal role.
  • There are significant economic benefits. The World Economic Forum reports that companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue.
  • As the morally right thing to do, company reputation and respect will be vastly enhanced.
  • There will be a cultural shift when more women are hired in male-dominant roles, and this benefits everyone. By increasing the pool of available talent, the business takes the pressure of existing staff who are dealing with talent shortages. It will also boost morale, and ultimately, output.
  • Speaking of a broader talent pool, male-dominant industries can almost double their potential candidate pipeline, by targeting women as well as men, for open roles.
  • Women are statistically more loyal to their employers than men. They commit themselves more to a role, and they tend to stay with a company for a longer period.

Strategies to Increase Diversity in Male-Dominant Roles

In boosting the gender equity of your workforce, a strategic roadmap will allow your business to have a consistently higher number of women in male-dominant roles. Below, we’ve provided just that for you.

Attraction Strategies

Many HR operatives in male-dominant industries are shifting their talent attraction strategies to garner the attention of female candidates. These strategies are proving highly successful but require consistency, clarity and testing. The more successful methods for attracting women to typically male-dominant roles include:

  • Imagery on job ads that are more female-centric.
  • Target job ads broadly in environments and channels where women will notice them. For example, targeted online and social media advertising, ambient advertising in fitness centres and select print media.
  • Use women talent and voices for digital, video and audio advertising. This sends a strong signal that your business is looking to hire more women.
  • Create an employee value proposition, as part of your employer brand, that is appealing to women.
  • Have female contacts for job applicants who have inquiries, before and after applying for a role in your organisation.
  • Publish case studies of women in your business, excelling in non-traditional, male-dominant roles.
  • Offer apprenticeships to young women.
  • Partner with local community clubs and skills-based networks, to get the message out that your business is open to hiring women in non-traditional roles.
  • Partner with TAFE colleges and universities, by providing career guidance, scholarships, internships and vacation employment for women.

Recruitment Strategies

Recruitment is a key component of your organisation’s gender equity plan. Ensure your recruiters or external hiring team are trained to consider candidates with a diverse background and breath of professional experiences, including how their skills may transfer to male-dominant roles. Hiring professionals need to be lateral in their scope and remove pre-conceived gender biases that may exist for previously male-dominant roles.

The most successful recruitment strategies for male-dominant roles, include:

  • Establish recruitment targets for women, across the entire process of shortlisting, interviewing and hiring. Make sure you explain the process, rationale and purpose to all employees.
  • Establish a well-documented, well-structured and clearly defined hiring process that is based on meritocracy, at each stage of the recruitment process – from initial rèsumè screening to job offer.
  • Train recruiters to recognise and avoid stereotypes and unconscious bias towards women in non-traditional roles.
  • Track your female candidates using your Applicant Tracking System, to monitor the effectiveness of your attraction strategies.
  • Support women to re-enter your industry. Or consider redeploying women to male-dominant roles upon their return from extended leave.
  • Consistently gather feedback from female applicants at every stage of the hiring process. This will help you to build a female talent pipeline and will facilitate a positive experience for all applicants to your open roles.
  • Offer an induction program as part of the onboarding process. Combined with a buddy system, this will enable new women in your business to establish relationships, build professional networks and set them up for success in their new roles.

Retention Strategies

Retaining women in male-dominant industries and roles is no easy feat and requires dedicated and consistent action. Effective retention strategies place a focus on the relationship between the business leader, and their workers. Successful retention is achieved by establishing pay equity across all similar role types and levels, employee recognition, the offer of an employee assistance program and quality benefits, superior to the industry standard. Successful retention is typically measured by longer retention of workers, lower talent attrition and therefore lower recruitment costs, and improved talent output and performance.

The key strategies for retaining women in male-dominant roles, include:

  • Creating a workplace culture that embraces diversity and inclusivity, with business leadership demonstrating their support for gender diversity through both actions and communications.
  • Share the business case for gender equity in the business, with all employees.
  • Participate in and sponsor awards that celebrate gender diversity in your industry.
  • Highlight internal reward and recognition programs for the gender equity role models in your business.
  • Maintain pay equity for both employees and contingent workers, under all categories of wages.
  • Make flexible working practices a staple of your organisation. Balance the needs of your people with your business objectives through rigorous strategic planning.
  • Implement policies that help women workers such as paid parental leave and allowances for family carers.
  • Provide a robust employee assistance program that genuinely supports workers, rather than one that’s based on your image or market appearance. Many EAPs aren’t functional as workers don’t feel confident that they won’t be professionally compromised if they access the EAP. Make accessing your EAP a part of your culture.

Talent Development Strategies

Developing workers in male-dominant industries needs to focus on a fair, equitable offering for all workers. Meritocracy is key, so that your workers can grow at the right pace and in the right context, suited to them. Importantly, developing women in male-dominant roles and industries calls for some diplomacy and eradication of assumptions or biases. Your business needs to invest the same focus and growth opportunities for your female workers, as you do your male workers. Only then, can you truly achieve gender equity across your workforce.

Ideas for talent development strategies, include:

  • Engage your senior leadership to act as role models for the skills and career development of the women in your workforce. Offer strategic career-pathing for women, especially those in roles that were traditionally the domain of men.
  • Offer mentoring programs for women, particularly those who may be new to your industry or your business.
  • Introduce a sponsorship program in your business, where you match up senior men, with high-potential, upcoming females.
  • Provide opportunities for women to undertake alternative, non-traditional career paths through re-training and taking on roles that were historically male-dominant.
  • Ensure your workforce planning is recalibrated to factor in new and emerging women in your business.
  • Provide training for your business leaders to identify unconscious bias or gender stereotypes when it comes to hiring and growing female workers. Educate them on the potential of women to successfully take on male-dominant roles.
  • Provide the opportunity for women in your business to attend and host industry networking events. Include female clients in these initiatives, so the women in your business get to expand their professional networks in the industry.
  • Establish targets to enable women to participate equally in development programs, including new or special projects in the business. Also, allow women to take on ‘acting’ roles in senior management when the opportunity arises.

Diversity Case Study

As we said earlier, there are countless examples of organisations across the globe, who are successfully integrating gender equity into their workforce planning and hiring strategies. Here are just a few:

Accenture

In a typically male-dominated industry, Accenture is a stand-out for taking gender diversity seriously. Accenture’s global workforce is currently sitting at 47% female. And, they were recently voted #1 in Refinitiv’s Diversity and Inclusion Index.

Lendlease

In the very male-centric industry of construction and infrastructure development, it’s encouraging to see the commitment to gender equity at Lendlease. The Workplace Gender Equality Agency named Lendlease an ‘Employer of Choice for Gender Equality’ for three years running.

BHP

A recent report from the mining industry found executives have focused heavily on increasing the number of women working at head office, but offer little change to the gender balance in frontline operations. At South Flank, one of BHP’s iron ore mines, 40% of the 869 frontline employees are women. This is such an encouraging shift for a heavily male-dominant industry player, and the second largest mining company in the world. As a result, South Flank is now the most gender-balanced mine in Australia, if not the world.

CXC

We have enjoyed several successful partnerships with clients where we’ve been able to boost the gender equity of their workforce. A notable example is a leading technology company, where we were asked to hire the number of female candidates within a short timeframe. You can read about this case study here.

Conclusion: Building a More Inclusive Future

The road ahead for gender diversity looks encouraging. But there is more to be done.

We know that organisations with gender parity perform better. The evidence is in the data:

  • Gartner tells us that employees who work in gender-diverse and inclusive teams see a 12% increase in performance. 
  • BCG notes that revenue increases by up to 19% in organisations with strong diversity and inclusion practices.
  • And, Josh Bersin studies show that innovation levels increase by as much as 1.7x in inclusive companies.

Aside from this data, the other important factor here is this: employees are seeking to work for companies that are fair and that value women as much as men. As Deloitte shows, inclusivity in the workplace is important to 80% of candidates, when they’re looking to move jobs.

If you fail to act on gender equality, your business will become non-competitive. Over to you.


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