Recruitment Consultancies Now Have to Go the Extra Mile for Women

On the occasion of Equal Pay Day on March 7 and International Women’s Day on March 8, Arne Adrian, Managing Director of PAWLIK Recruiters and Chairman of the Personnel Consulting Division of the BDU, advises recruitment consultants on what they can do to achieve greater gender equality in the workplace.

When it comes to gender equality in the workplace, what grade would you give Germany in international comparison?

I would give the German economy a “3.” The good intentions are there, and gender equality in terms of female board representation, appropriate pay and more opportunities for women is slowly making its way onto decision-makers’ agendas. However, the implementation is lagging behind expectations. The gender pay gap in Germany was last reported at 18 percent, and for comparable roles and qualifications, it still stands at two to seven percent. Compared to other countries such as the United States, we are lagging behind. In the U.S., the issue of diversity, which is not just about gender equality, is approached in a more structured way and has been institutionalized.

What do the USA do better?

For example, U.S. companies are not allowed to prohibit their employees from talking about their salaries, which creates transparency. In addition, previous earnings are not asked about in job interviews. There are extensive legal regulations. The companies have also created a framework in which gender-based discrimination in the selection process, for example, is excluded as far as possible. Many companies now have Chief Diversity Officers responsible for ensuring compliance with these rules and cultural change. Consultants now sometimes have to commit to presenting a certain number of women, people of a different skin color, etc. Consulting firms have to commit to certain rules and sign charters in order to be allowed to search for NGOs or federal companies, for example.

How do you see the trend in Germany?

The situation has noticeably improved for top management positions. Currently, 30.5 percent of DAX 40 board members are female. But we need to think further ahead. The consequences of career breaks due to parental leave and lower starting salaries continue to affect many women throughout their lives. The parental leave break causes a stagnant career development and thus also a gap in income, in direct comparison to men. Recruitment consultants also have a duty here. If we want to place more women in well-paying positions, we need to go the extra mile now.

What does it mean to go the extra mile in recruiting women?

In certain professions, there is a lower number of female candidates in the selection process. In such cases, alternative strategies need to be considered, such as exploring similar industries or sectors to find potential candidates. It’s necessary to determine where compromises can be made regarding specific experience requirements. Essentially, it means turning over every stone twice and don’t stop searching until you can be sure that you have really considered all the options for attracting female candidates.

Should women be given preference over more qualified men?

In the case of two completely equal candidates, one might choose the woman. Beyond that, the answer is a clear no. That would not be gender equitable and feeds the prejudice that women only get their jobs because of the quota. What is much more important is a shift in mindset regarding the consistency of careers. When women have children during their careers, it interrupts their career path and professional development. We need to closely examine what experience is genuinely lacking and how it can be made up for. This often happens particularly quickly with the soft skills acquired during parental leave.



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