winning hearts and minds: what female professionals look for in a future employer

August 24, 2015 Tania De Decker

Randstad Award research reveals what motivates women in the workplace and what they need to move up the corporate ladder

For another year, Life Sciences has been highlighted as one of the most attractive sectors to work in, according to 2015 Randstad Award research. The industry appears to be especially popular with female professionals.

With women increasingly recognized as a critical success factor for many organizations, it’s no surprise that in a recent Randstad Sourceright survey 43% of HR leaders say they’re investing in initiatives that will support and accelerate the pursuit of career advancement and leadership roles for women. However, what attracts female candidates and motivates them to commit to an employer remains a subject HR leaders are keen to demystify. So, what lessons can we learn from the Life Sciences sector when it comes to winning the hearts and minds of women in the workforce?

Using insights from this year’s Randstad Award research, let’s take a look at what female talent look for in prospective employers and how you can accommodate their needs and desires to drive a positive impact on your bottom line.


Balancing professional aspirations with personal lives remains a top priority for women. Randstad Award research reveals that compared with their male counterparts, women are more driven by non-monetary factors such as a pleasant working environment, a convenient location, and flexible work options. Their aspiration to achieve career success without making major sacrifices in their personal and family lives predominantly determines how they make employment choices.

Over the years, companies have made significant progress toward improving working conditions for women, from promoting generous maternity leave to introducing flex-time options. However, adopting female-friendly policies only scratches the surface. To create a workplace that is genuinely attractive to women, organizations need to develop a culture that empowers women to pursue a productive career. At the same time, they need to feel truly valued at work through recognition, rewards, and celebration of their achievements.

A great example...
When juggling work and family becomes too difficult, many talented women respond by moving into less demanding roles or simply dropping out of the workforce entirely. One of the companies leading the way in encouraging women to stay on track is Eli Lilly. This pharmaceutical company offers after-school programs to their employees’ children so that they can attend science camps, math sessions, and other activities while their parents are still at work. These innovative programs enable female employees with families to retain demanding positions while decreasing the anxiety of leaving their children at home.

Female millennials embrace a different career mindset. Millennial female professionals are a new breed. The majority are highly educated, ambitious, and more optimistic than any of their previous generations. Randstad Award research shows they’re in favor of professional training opportunities and an international career.

It’s important to note that for millennial women, a female-friendly workplace means more than parental leave and childcare policies. They’re more likely to choose and stay with a company that encourages them to aim higher. I advise all companies to look at offering training and mentoring programs tailored to individual needs. It’s an excellent way to show your support for young, talented women and to help accelerate their careers and retain their knowledge regardless of their changing life circumstances.

A great example...
With 50% of its major divisions run by female executives, pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb has set a good example for organizations across all industries in regards to gender diversity. Moreover, the company empowers its female employees through a wealth of global initiatives, from sponsoring high-potential women on the training and education they need to offering the mentoring programs that coach senior female executives on how to refine their leadership skills and navigate the top tier.

What women and men want from their future employers is increasingly aligned: flexible work arrangements. There’s a growing desire for workplace flexibility among today’s talent – regardless of gender. Despite being highly rated, flexible work arrangements are far from the norm in the workplace, which could be attributed to people’s concern of being labeled as less committed to work. However, many studies have proven that when done right, increased productivity, lowered absenteeism, reduced turnover, and a happier workforce are just some of the many benefits of businesses adopting flexible work arrangements.

More freedom should be given to employees in terms of where, when, and how they choose to work, provided expectations are well managed and results are delivered. Integrate flexibility into your HR and business strategy, and don’t forget to reinforce it with the right managerial support.

A great example...
Committed to providing the balance between work and family life to its employees, the Swiss healthcare company Roche offers a diverse range of innovative work solutions such as flex-time, working from home, job sharing, and other options. Employees are entitled to 12 days of remote work every quarter and they’re fully trusted by managers to choose the model that works best for them.

Ending the gender pay gap is a key mandate. Another interesting finding from this year’s research is that salary and benefits play a much more significant role in women’s employment decision-making than their male counterparts, which reflects the ongoing pay gap dividing women and men. To attract and retain talented female professionals, businesses need to review their remuneration structures in an honest and transparent manner and guarantee a fair and equal pay for all.

These are just a few best practices you can leverage to become a stand-out employer. To gain more insights on becoming an employer of choice, request the full range of the Randstad Award 2015 reports. You’ll learn about the key drivers motivating the employment decisions of today's talent and examples of organizations that have built the best employer brands in the world.

About the Author

Tania  De Decker

As Senior Vice President - EMEA for Randstad's Global Client Solutions, Tania works with Fortune 500 companies to develop and implement processes that improve and drive recruitment and retention solutions. Furthermore she is responsible for design and implementing customer strategies on a global level and liaise with all local operating companies belonging to the Randstad Group.

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