Organizations understand the value of diversity.  Numerous articles have been written about hiring women and the value they bring at every level. There are many qualified women but their experience and education are often not an exact match to the typical executive or senior job description.

Why is it that less women are in leadership positions?

Executives and hiring managers are acutely aware of this issue. Often our clients ask for at least one qualified female to be presented in our list of top candidates. If clients are asking for female candidates, why are there not more females in senior leadership positions? Women are presented as one of the top candidates but they are cut out of the competition due to having less direct experience than their male peers.  Female candidates may have fewer years of experience and the type of experience is often not at the same level as male candidates.  There are many factors that cause this, some examples are a break in their career due to child rearing or caring for aging parents.

Female candidates often meet similar criteria except for experience.  However, experience can be gained outside of the traditional work environment. Many female candidates have excelled at ‘building relationships, creating strong support networks and know how to bring a “find-a-way” approach to their work.’ Consider informal experience as being equally valued.  Experience for senior leadership positions can often be gained elsewhere through volunteering and community positions.

Consider other types of experience as being equivalent to professional experience.  Female candidates often perform the same tasks outside of the office as male candidates perform in the office. Organization and time management skills are developed in a variety of experiences.  When executives and hiring managers define experience in a broader sense, more female candidates will meet the requirements for senior leadership roles.  ‘What’s missing is the opportunity’ for qualified and ambitious women who are ready to lead.

It is easier to hire a candidate with the exact experience that a senior leadership position states. Hiring a senior leader can be risky and it is often presumed to be safer to hire the candidate with direct experience.  Take a chance on a candidate who has similar experience and a high potential to succeed. Many organizations have found that taking a chance on female candidates with less direct experience is worth the risk.

Human Edge Global is a quality-first, relationship centered retained executive search firm with locations across Canada.  We help clients recruit the very best candidates for their executive, professional and technical teams. To find out more about how we can help you compete for and attract the best talent in your industry, please contact us.