Years ago, when I was in college recruiting, the company I worked for hosted a massive college event….courting the best and brightest to join our small telecom company in Germantown, Maryland. Our company was young, energetic, we had bagel and donut Mondays and Thirsty Thursdays. Community was key and we championed work/life balance before it was a major space on HR Lingo Bingo. But–an eye opening moment was had while chatting with two of the female engineering students at this college recruiting event as they viewed a photo of our senior leadership. One of the students frankly acknowledged the lack of female representation in the leadership of our organization. And the other said, I can’t work here, women representation in leadership is not a priority.
Wow. It was over before it started. Since then, I’ve always looked for a better way to source women for the companies I work for. To hope they grow into the leadership roles my employers needed them in.
Times have changed and I don’t just source women at an entry level, now I’m looking for female executives. If you read anything, like Forbes, you know females are grossly underrepresented in the executive population. My task is to find as many of them as possible. And there are a variety of options. Whenever I think of sourcing women, I think back to this strategy put forward by Glen Cathey ages ago. It’s an inspiring strategy for me. I like it because the massive list of names is amazing, but my sourcing strategies have always erred towards keeping it simple. To be honest I’m not known for my patience.
I like to be strategic, so in addition to thinking about Cathey’s mega names list, I immediately think of the schools, associations and groups representing women, and go where they hang out. But that’s not my favorite methodology either.
My current favorite technique? Leveraging the pronouns “she” and “her”. I revisited this strategy after seeing one of my business acquaintances, that constantly passes along great referrals, had this in her email signature: “Gender Pronouns: she/her/hers“.
Our reality? Press releases, bios, personal branding sites, even email signatures…they make leveraging my new favorite “OR” statement a must-include in my diversity sourcing strategy. It’s my new favorite phrase, she|her|hers. I’ve immediately included it in my LinkedIn searchers (I still x-ray, can’t help myself but go for the big grab). I can include it with any senior level title, or even dive into industries. This search string is one of my favorites that I toy with:
she|her|hers vice|vp healthcare finance|accounting billion
A bit of a refinement and this search string is also interesting:
she|her|hers “executives”|”leadership” healthcare finance|accounting billion
It looks for female executives in a broader sense.
Billion? Yes, I included the word billion. I want women that are working in large organizations in this search, and more often than not, it helps with finding people that have that level of expertise. Besides that, references to million are a dime a dozen online, particularly if you scan LinkedIn. If I wanted to remove all these results from my search, I’d just tweak it like this:
she|her|hers “executives”|”leadership” healthcare finance|accounting -billion
Super productive, and flexible enough to adjust to your sourcing needs no matter your industry. Tag this onto my favorite sourcing strings of the season. I use it daily to keep my list fresh of possible candidates, and hope you find it useful in building yours.
Kelly is the Recruitment Manager for Westat, a leading social science research organization headquartered in Rockville, Maryland.