Executive Search

Recruiting and Retaining Women and Diversity in Tech

On March 8th, the world celebrates International Women’s Day, recognizing women’s significant contributions and achievements, and rallying to accelerate gender equality. DSML Executive Recruiting, an Executive Search Firm in Boston and Chicago, had the pleasure of having their Co-Founder Myriam Le Cannellier interviewed on Women in Tech, a French Tech Boston podcast in honor of the holiday.

According to the Census, only 27% of STEM roles in the US are occupied by women and just over 19% of executive roles in the industry are currently held by women. With nearly fifteen years of executive search and recruiting experience for European companies in the USA, Myriam has seen these numbers grow over time but knows there’s still room for improvement. A key to increasing these numbers is understanding how to attract the right talent in tech, as well as retain them once placed in a company’s executive roles.

Naturally, there are challenges that arise when looking to meld two cultures. European companies seeking to attract American candidates in their recruiting process while expanding into the US must remain self-aware to avoid assumptions made, especially through the executive hiring process, so as to not alienate prospective candidates, leading them to miss out on massive talent.

Executive Recruitment Challenges

Reconsider Educational Expectations in Executive Search Recruitment

Educate hiring managers on the American educational system. It’s likely that European — especially French — hiring teams will view the search through the lens of the French educational system. However, these generalist routes are far less common within the US collegiate system. The US is generally more specified in training and skills, compared to the European approach to having jack-of-all-trades type of generalists.

Define Roles When Recruiting for European Companies in the USA

Consider how assumptions around education impact the role designs your company puts out in the marketplace. Often, roles in the US are more siloed and specialized. The educational system feeds into this and vice versa. So, for European companies coming into the American candidate market, it’s paramount to follow best practices in working with an executive search recruitment firm: communicate expectations clearly and be aware of biases, as this will create further friction in filling the role.

Don’t Let Age Be a Discriminating Factor

You need to be mindful of age biases. Myriam has witnessed age become — consciously or unconsciously — a discriminating factor, especially within the tech industry. Hiring firms are often looking for experience, but are wary of older candidates, claiming they might not understand what the company does or that they might not fit the culture. “Age should never be a factor in hiring the right candidate,” Myriam shared.

Understand How Education Influences Compensation Expectations in the US Market

In the US, 65% of college students graduate with student debt. Additionally, the US does not have many social programs in place to help protect workers, creating a need for many American candidates to be extremely driven. European companies will quickly see that strong executive candidates climb the corporate ladder more fervently in order to access greater salaries to pay off that debt. If they’re experts in the service they offer, candidates’ salary progressions are much faster.

Given this, it’s important to dissociate age and income expectations. In the United States, age is not a factor for income potential, as it is in Europe. It is far more likely to find a 25-year-old US-based professional making six figures. What counts is the experience that candidates can bring to a firm. Inversely, when dealing with older candidates, their income requirements may be more flexible: with fewer financial needs — being empty-nesters, student loans being paid off long ago — these candidates are more flexible, often prioritizing the fit over potential salary.

How to Attract Diverse Talent

Myriam shared her recommendations on how to attract diverse talent in executive search recruitment in Boston, as DSML works with French companies to hire US executives.

Job descriptions must be as inclusive as possible. Unlike some European languages, English lends itself well to neutralization, but bias can still be perceived in job descriptions. This will lead to fewer applicants, as some may self-censor by not applying.

When it comes to your company’s public image, consider what representation is showcased. For any potential candidate who doesn’t see themselves reflected in the company in any way — race or age, for example — this is a huge deterrent.

In terms of benefits, go beyond just salary (a competitive one, at that). As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Great Resignation, flexible work is top of mind. For many, this is nearly as high a priority as salary. Additionally, having flexible working hours and, of course, location will allow for increased diversity in your candidate pool.

Consider anonymizing the application process. American resumes don’t include pictures, dates of birth, or marital status. Not only are they not included, but can lead to legal repercussions if inquired about in the interviewing process. It is, however, common practice to ask for race and ethnicity in the application process. While the goal of collecting this information is based on conducting statistical research and detecting patterns, it can easily be used against candidates. For example, many applicants choose an Americanized name to avoid gender or race bias.

Still developing their footprints in the US, these European companies recruiting in the USA might not get the cream of the crop, but it creates an opportunity to be more open-minded, and open criteria up to allow for a wider array of candidates. Be flexible and creative. Naturally, there are still certain criteria that need to be met, but transferable skills should be more top of mind than ever. Resumes are one way to see a candidate, but it doesn’t provide the full picture. Consider the not-obvious candidate. The criteria for finding the perfect candidate to help lead your subsidiary are not age, race, or gender. It should only be experience.

If your company is seeking to prioritize diversity in recruiting for a key executive position such as CEO, COO, President, VP, or other Senior level roles, contact us.

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