Diversity & Inclusion
Women candidates need to throw their hats in the ring
By Penny Mirams
The recent shift towards rebalancing the C-suite and creating greater inclusivity means that more and more organizations are opening the door to candidates who previously had a slim chance of walking through it.
However, even with better reception to more diverse candidates, many women still hesitate to throw their hat in the ring.
As a professional executive recruiter, I see the commonalities and differences between male and female candidates and their approaches to their career pursuit — and the difference is clear.
Men seem to be prepared to stretch to reach a role and seem to feel more certain of their candidacy and that they deserve. Women, on the other hand, want to make sure they have credibly earned every criterion listed on a job posting before they apply.
My message over and over again to women is that you do not have to be 100 per cent to apply, 70 to 80 per cent is enough to confidently throw your hat in the ring. Women feel they need to earn the right to apply and what they don’t realize is that they already have.
Working in the health-care sector, there is a high proportion of women who know the system well and, yet, finding not only qualified, but interested or willing, candidates to take on leadership roles can take some convincing.
Another common reason women hesitate to go for bigger roles is their belief that they have to wait until their kids are grown up.
Today’s employers are more accommodating and women should know that.
Recently, I had an excellent candidate who landed a leadership role with one of our clients and then came to find out she was pregnant and due to having the baby soon.
We advised the employer and the employer’s response was “we are looking for the right candidate and we believe she is the right candidate so we’ll wait for her.” That is progress and this is happening in today’s workforce, employers are willing and able to make accommodations for the right candidate.
The days of women having to put their career on hold for the family are coming to an end and the message is being received by employers, accommodations are being made, new ways of working are being accepted and even promoted.
The gap we have now is the candidates themselves not putting their names forward to go for that big position. Everyone needs to do their part to bridge the gap and, while not perfect, things are moving in the right direction, and that only works when women apply.
Women fence-sit and wait until nearly the end of their careers before recognizing that they have everything they need to lead an organization. It’s disheartening because many of these candidates are well-qualified and viable candidates decades earlier in their careers.
It’s time for women to own their accomplishments, recognize their talent and reach for leadership roles because many will find they can and will attain them.
You do not have to be a perfectly matched candidate to apply for a leadership position, instead focus on the core functions and recognize what you can develop on the job.
Executive coaching to support new leaders is an investment many organizations are prepared to make for the right candidate and can help build new leaders’ confidence and set them up for success.
Women make exceptional leaders, but first, they must apply.
Penny Mirams is a co-founder of Mirams Becker, an executive search firm in Toronto, founded in 2020 specializing in health-care executive search. Alongside partner Hayley Becker, each had successful careers working for large global search firms before establishing their niche firm to create a high-touch experience specifically for those seeking top calibre health-care leaders.
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