Compliance and Recruiting Women in the Workforce

Karin Sweigart, a senior associate from The Volkov Law Group, joins us for a posting on compliance and recruiting women.  Karin’s profile is located here.  She can be reached at ksweigart@volkovlaw.com.

With unemployment near record lows (3.9% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) more businesses are struggling to recruit the talent they need in the  market. HR professionals know they need to be more creative to attract talent, but when trying to target underutilized talent pools, it is important to remember compliance still matters.

Discrimination is Discrimination

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It generally applies to employers with 15 or more employees, and most HR professionals are well aware that questions about a person’s accent, perceived disability, health, marital, or parental status are off limits. What employers may not realize is these rules apply even if your goal is to empower and attract, not dissuade, members of traditionally underrepresented classes. Do not  make the mistake of inadvertently using discriminatory language in your recruiting and interviews in an attempt to court protected groups.

Mothers in the Workforce

Women reentering the workforce after taking time off to be stay-at-home mothers, or new mothers looking for flexibility or part-time employment, have traditionally not been sought after in the labor market. Moms can face challenges fitting into the traditional corporate structure when it isn’t sensitive to their responsibilities outside of the office, but savvy employers are waking up to the potential benefits of trying to lure this type of candidate.

So how can your business attract these candidates without running afoul of the law? Keep the focus on what your business can do to help all your employees succeed in both their home and work life. Companies wishing to attract and recruit working moms should think about offering:

  1. Flexible Schedules

Allowing work from home opportunities and flexible work hours opens doors for working parents to deal with sick kids, school events, or whatever else life may throw at them.

  1. Negotiable Benefits

Recognize not every potential employee might need a complete benefit package.  Let potential employees bargain for what they actually need to be happy in their job.

  1. Parental Leave

Make a commitment to supporting new parents by giving them the time they need to adjust to new additions to the family.

  1. Model Leadership

Are women represented in your board room and senior leadership? Don’t let a perceived glass ceiling in your company keep you from being able to recruit top talent.

  1. Work Life Balance

Make work life balance a priority at every level of your organization. Encourage employees to practice self-care and let them know your organization doesn’t view workaholism as a virtue. Reward work product and ingenuity rather than hours spent in the office.

If your talent pool is dwindling, and hiring is stagnant, you may need to rethink your strategy for recruiting and retention. Providing moms with the chance they want to continue to participate in the work force, while still fulfilling their responsibilities at home, could provide your organization with the edge it needs over your competition. But do so with an eye towards compliance, making sure you don’t single out a protected class for favored, or disfavored, treatment. Focusing on making your business parent friendly will open new doors both for your business and potential employees waiting for the right opportunity.

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