Sweden – the optimistic example
In Sweden, only 38% believe that gender equality has been achieved. But looking at the actual share of women in leadership roles, we find that Sweden has the best ratio among the Nordic countries – 43%. And this already says plenty. Clearly, we have a lesson to learn from Sweden. The country’s population holds the opinion that there are still improvements to be made in terms of gender equality, and perhaps that is the exact reason why more efforts are being made to achieve such a good gender ratio, when compared to other European nations.
Why is Sweden performing so well in terms of gender equality?
A main reason why might be Sweden’s decades-old commitment to gender equality, reflected in their national, regional and local institutions. Gender equality is crucial to governmental decision-making and resource allocation and is acting as the main pillar of political policies.
In this context, women are less often perceived as the preferred or primary caretaker. And that is especially visible in Sweden’s progressive parenting policies. Parents in Sweden are entitled to a total 480 days of paid parental leave, with 240 days for each parent. Should there be a single parent, then they are entitled to the full amount of 480 days. Currently, fathers benefit from about 30% of all paid parental leave, and across Sweden, it is widely accepted that family life should be more equal. This shows the positive effects of the country’s policies that are translating into the job market as well.
In short, Sweden promotes a family-friendly workplace culture and has an egalitarian view on gender roles, in the context of very gender equality-focused governments and policies. Thus, this eventually contributed to more women climbing the career ladder and remaining in leadership positions.
This is where FxF comes in.
The Financial Industry is one of the most male-dominated industries, with only 3% of women in management. For the past year, FxF has been working with over 30 partners in the Financial Industry to increase the female presence in the sector. With the FxF formula focused on educating, networking and matching women with the right company, FxF successfully matched over 70 women.
- Creating the New Girls’ Network;
By networking with like-minded women and connecting them with role models in the finance industry, FxF inspires a new generation of female talent for the financial sector.
- Educate and Train;
FxF is preparing the leaders of tomorrow by empowering, educating and guiding them from the start of their careers.
- Creating the new gender diversity norm.
By raising awareness, creating an inclusive hiring process, and branding, FxF rewrites the new norm of gender diversity for companies in the Financial Sector.
What does your company do about it?
Each company has unique challenges and obstacles that must be addressed to achieve a diverse workforce. We hope this article helped shed some light on the actual workplace gender diversity versus the perception in the Netherlands.
There are many ways for companies to improve upon their current practices when it comes to hiring new female employees: from ensuring that each department has an equal number of males and females working within it (or at least having an equal number of men and women applying) up to offering competitive salaries across all levels based on experience level or education level (if applicable).
Nevertheless, here are our top tips for your company to attract and retain female talent:
Consider the whole picture
According to a piece published in MIT Sloan Management Review, the perspective taken on gender diversity needs to be broadened. Most of the time, diversity guidelines and definitions only focus on top management and board positions – but looking at how you perform in terms of diversity and inclusion within your company as a whole will provide a better understanding of your company’s current situation. If there is no awareness about what is still to be improved, you will never make further progress.
Start building an inclusive workplace culture
A Danish study (2022) found that women in leadership positions face more micro-aggressions than men. They also perceive the career ladder as less fair and objective than for men.
This is why, once you are aware of the current situation on gender diversity in your company, it is time to promote an inclusive workplace culture in which awareness-raising, positive reinforcement and accountability are the backbone of change. Moreover, transparency at each level is essential – to avoid discrimination and biases.
Change your recruitment approach
If you want a more diverse pool of applicants, you need to loosen up your requirements so that they fit a variety of profiles instead of reinforcing the same type of candidate.
This is where skill-based hiring comes in. After working with 30 partners and placing more than 70 female candidates, Female x Finance identified a beneficial trend towards more skill-based interview processes, rather than knowledge-based.
Not long ago, technical questions were the norm. They aimed to test how much a candidate knows from the top of their head. Recently, however, this approach has made way for focusing on more strategic questions. These questions target someone’s soft and hard skills, rather than acquired knowledge. In the financial sector, for example, a candidate’s business sense and critical thinking are becoming more relevant.
Retain your female employees
Why? Because if you don’t, it will be harder and harder to recruit female talent. In a study by McKinsey on women in the workplace (2022), it was emphasised that if companies don’t act towards improving gender diversity, they will lose not only their existing female leaders, but also the next generation of female talent
So, how do you retain female employees? There are multiple approaches, but a Danish research (2022) on gender diversity revealed the following as the most important:
- Providing mentoring and growth opportunities, as well as role models to look up to;
- Openly supporting diversity initiatives;
- Building a family-friendly workplace: Offer inclusive benefits for childcare, parental leave, aiming at breaking gender imbalances and stereotypes when it comes to family life.
To conclude, understanding the benefits of having both men and women in your company is one thing, but knowing how to implement them is another. The more you know about gender diversity, the better equipped you are to make a positive impact. The Netherlands has a long way to go to improve Gender Diversity at every level in a company. But, with initiatives such as Female x Finance, we can close the gender gap sooner than hoped.