Lower barriers to entry to build the talent pipeline
Bringing more women into companies’ ranks means looking for candidates who don’t always fit the traditional mold for education, experience, or work history. “I look at people where they have potential to grow into a role, take full bets on them, and invest in their success,” Masalosalo explains. She says that every hiring manager should ask themselves during their candidate search if a particular number of years of experience or a certain skill set is really a hard requirement to do the job well. She personally looks for soft skills such as excellent communication, curiosity, and grit — attributes that are indicators of future success. Everything else can be learned on the job.
Invest in mentorship programming
Mentorship and sponsorship — and the programs that support them — have to be “defined, nuanced, and structured” to be valuable to women. These relationships have to have intention about what each party gives and how each can benefit, Masalosalo says. “Because when it’s done right, it can be very, very, powerful. Having a mentor to provide you advice and guidance as you navigate your career is important, and it goes hand in hand with having a sponsor that’s willing to act on your behalf,” she explains.
Men, too, need to have skin in the game to be considered good allies.
“You’ve got to have men in the room. They need to be joining these conversations,” she says. “The signal needs to come from the top, all the way down, that diversity is something we value, that we encourage, and that we seek to implement with actionable, concrete goals.” She emphasizes that men need to also invest in individual women’s leadership and professional development as well by offering up their time as mentors or sponsors.
… And a quick test for managers
In your next meeting, Masalosalo advises, look around the room (or at the virtual table if in a video conference). “If there aren’t any women, or there is only one, you’ve got to make a change,” she says. “Go invite some more women to that table.”