Hiring for Diversity: Three Tangible Benefits of Hiring Female Engineers
In recent years, there has been a lot of emphasis on increasing the number of women who study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM. These efforts are largely aimed at increasing the number of female engineers in industry labor pools. In fact, a survey performed by Cambridge Occupational Analysts found that 16% more female students were seriously considering general engineering as the focus of their secondary education in comparison to seven years ago. However, nearly 40 percent of the female students who end up earning an engineering degree and start their career, later exit the field entirely. Obviously, there is a disparity between the amount of value placed on educating female engineers and actually keeping them around once they have entered the workforce.
Unfortunately, engineering companies are sorely missing out on these three tangible benefits of hiring female engineers:
- Top Notch Talent – More selective schools with highly regarded engineering programs have a vastly higher female to male ratiothan more accessible universities. This means that the majority of a small group of students (i.e. females interested STEM studies) are attending better engineering programs in comparison to their male counterparts. An emphasis on making the hiring process more female friendly means that the likelihood of getting top notch candidates from great universities will dramatically increase along with the number of female applicants.
- A Better Bottom Line – While only, 14% of engineers are women according to the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, there is evidence that more women means bigger profits. Only 11% of the 130,000 corporate board members in a 2014 study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics turned out to be women. However, the same study found that companies with more women in leadership positions could expect a 6% increase in net profit over their less female friendly counterparts. This evidence suggests that a very small number of females are having a very substantial impact. Firms can make this phenomenon work for their own bottom line by hiring more qualified female engineers to bolster profit margins.
- Tumbling Turnover Rates – Turnover is a traumatic trigger word for many firm managers, and for good reason. The Society for Human Resource Management found that employers will spend 50% to 75% of an employee’s salary when finding and training their replacement. Another study by The Center for American Progress discovered that the cost of losing a highly trained employee can cost the company up to 213% of the former employee’s salary. Between training the new employee and the various costs associated with losing the old one, there is an astronomical amount of dollars to be saved by reducing turnover. Increasing inclusion in the workplace for women has tangential consequences that will keep other employees around as well. Generally, women value flexibility, communication, fairness, and equal pay. According to this study, the lack of each of those employment values is ranked in the top 15 reasons that employees quit their jobs.
When business managers and Human Resource personnel advocate for the hiring of diverse workforces, they often emphasize intangible assets and unmeasurable benefits. However, there is more to hiring for diversity than increased creativity, boosted morale, and improved reputations. The intangibles are important, but it is nearly impossible to support hiring a heavily diverse workforce as a good business choice when there is very little data to back up the practice. Understanding and communicating the tangible benefits of hiring for diversity is an essential business practice. It is clear to see that a more feminine workforce, is a more successful workforce…and that’s a fact.