Employing young women

With recruitment issues way at the back of many companies’ minds in the current economy, this may seem like weird timing to raise the issue of the potential ‘risk’ involved in employing young women:

Will she decide to go off and have babies?
If she’s already a mother, what happens when one of her children is sick?

Some years ago I needed to recruit people (admittedly on a temporary basis) for a telephone marketing research project. It was my first in that role for the company and I decided to opt for 10 part timers rather than 5 full timers (there were good reasons for this – contact me direct to know more) and I was going to be a ‘model’ employer ;-): The best 5 males and the best 5 females would be taken on, trained and have a two-week trial period.

It was a tough one that entailed a) identifying and b) conducting a 45-minute telephone interview with plant directors/managers in specific industries across 3 European countries. The first stage was with English speaking participants though the team had the language capabilities to cover all 3 countries for the roll out.

As it turned out, none of the males ‘made the grade’ whereas all 5 females (including an artistic ‘resting’ film director and a down-to-earth mum of three who had never worked in an office before) were retained and went full time on the project, were introduced to the client and really ‘got into’ their part in the aims of the research. They bonded well as a team with the ‘mum’ naturally herding and taking on additional responsibilities, and each went on to work on further projects as and when their skills were required and they were available.

That didn’t mean that I never took on some smashing blokes to work on later projects, rather that my focus should have been on the best 10, regardless of gender, in the first place.

The point to this?

People will move on; their priorities will change, as will their circumstances. Employers can’t predict when and why. We can only willingly take the opportunity to work with the best as and when it presents itself to us, for as long as it lasts.

I want to give credit to a post I saw earlier today that started off this particular stream of thought: Is it too risky to employ young women? and suggest a mosey over there would be worthwhile – you’ll see input from different and interesting angles and viewpoints…


Next up: I think it’s time to look at You Plc (unless something extremely topical alters my tack… ;-))

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3 Responses to “Employing young women”

  1. IQPC says:

    Great post, very valid points! To be honest, I’ve never heard of anyone worried about hiring someone younger. It’s always the other way around since younger people are often very eager and likely to grow with the company.

  2. Sarah Arrow says:

    A point well made, regardless of gender, people move on when it suits them.

    Good companies will retain people a lot longer than bad companies who do all the ‘right’ things

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