Recruiting for diversity?

This morning Sandra De Kock, General Manager, People and Culture at Perth Airport shared her lessons about designing jobs that are inclusive of men and women.

In WA for every 10 CEOs, there is one female CEO.
Women represent 50% of the population, nearly 50% of the workforce and 60% of all university graduates.
Women are nevertheless under-represented in senior roles at work.

Sandra shared several key insights gained over 30 years, that ensure women are attracted, retained and promoted at Perth Airport to achieve a gender-balanced workforce at all levels. Here are my top three key messages that I would like to share with you.

1.What are we recruiting for?

 The default recruitment question is who do we get and how and where do we find someone? Quick! In viewing this challenge differently Sandra always views it more broadly, asking:

What problem is being addressed by having this position?
What does success look like?
What are the six (only) core skills (that is, the ones that can’t be taught), the core behaviours and the core competencies required?

 In asking these questions before the recruitment process even begins requires previously held assumptions and biases about the role to be challenged, thereby opening up the pool of talent, inclusive of more men and women. Focussing beyond skills Sandra reminds us that often

we hire for skills, we fire for behaviours.

2. How to work with recruiting partners?

Depending on your recruitment needs, this work may be outsourced. In doing so, ensure you are crystal clear on your own needs. The tendency to receive a shortlist of candidates, that reflect successful placements in the past, is too common a pitfall for some recruiters. Expect to work with your recruitment partner in a way that is collaborative and genuinely a true partnership that respects the commercial reality of what each is trying to achieve. In doing so however, challenge your partners to deliver a 50/50 short list that is inclusive of women and men. Yes they may have to work a bit harder and it may not be easy.

3. How to interview for better outcomes?

Diverse panels are becoming the norm. What else can you do to be more inclusive? In looking for reasons to include more women, versus excluding, using a variety of informal and formal interview settings, fostering a genuine desire to have a two way conversation are simple ways to interview for better outcomes. Making a commitment to having just one woman on the shortlist is more damaging and works against her according to Spencer Stuart.

Finally, when it comes to pay … In filling roles that are typically dominated by women, it is easy to benchmark salary to market rates. In sizing job roles, it is worth noting that women’s work does not have the same value of men’s work, even if the roles are the same size. The next time you do a pay gap audit, see what you find. If we already acknowledge that the work of women is valued differently by the market, why would we rely on the market to inform how we set salaries internally?

Sandra is skilled in organisational development and design, complex change management, strategy and execution, brand alignment and process improvement. She has global industry experience in operations, strategy and HR/ER management roles in Australia, NZ, Africa and Europe. She brings pragmatism, flexibility and quick execution as a top tier executive at Perth Airport.

CEOs for Gender Equity is proud to partner with its members to bring action on gender equity in WA.

Tania Cecconi

Since 2016, I have been thrilled to work with CEOs for Gender Equity as its inaugural executive director. Working with progressive CEOs my goal is to turn the dial in Western Australia. My job is to help them lead the transformation of their workforce by eliciting and sharing their stories of what works and doesn't work to drive and improve gender equity further.