The shortage of female executives in the labor market occupies recruiters


The difficulty finding workers in Connecticut isn’t limited to core employees: Corporate recruiters say business is booming as the pandemic nears the two-year mark.

“I’ve been doing this for 23 years and it’s been one of the best years,” said Duane Sauer, who is vice president and practice director for permanent placement in Robert Half Recruiters’ accounting and finance unit. Connecticut and Western Massachusetts. service territory. “I have never seen a request as it is now. “

The demand for women workers, especially managers, is particularly acute. About 350,000 women aged 20 and over left the workforce in September and August of this year, the US Department of Labor reported in October, while 321,000 men of the same age group joined us.

As a result, the labor force of women aged 20 and over declined by around 2 million compared to February 2020, roughly double the deficit for non-adolescent men.

This has created a shortage of female workers at all levels, especially in the executive suite, according to Jasmine Silver and Runa Knapp, co-founders of Connectalent, a Westport recruiting company specializing in placing female executives.

Knapp said that with the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, many women left the workforce, not because they wanted to, but because they were needed to care for elderly parents or to oversee their children’s home learning when schools have closed.

Silver said the companies looking to hire the female executives represented by Connectalent are companies that have been successful in addressing the challenges associated with the pandemic.

“These companies are doing well, making money and therefore do not have enough staff to meet their needs,” she said. “The candidates we work with are ready to go because they were at the top of their game, in high level positions when they left the workforce. “

Silver said she and Knapp worked with eight to ten executives at a time in an effort to find each of them positions. The two women say they have worked with between 35 and 40 companies since their launch in May 2019.

Knapp said she and Silver had a “more hands-on, white-glove” approach to recruiting.

“We don’t just compare buzzwords online,” Knapp said.

“We have met a lot of mothers like us”

Connectalent’s services really took off during the pandemic, with company revenue tripling in 2020 and 2021. Knapp said corporate clients pay Connectalent up to one-third of first-year compensation for any placed candidate. .

Silver and Knapp decided to team up after meeting when their kids were playing together. Knapp had been a corporate accountant with KPMG and Silver was a divorce lawyer.

“We have met a lot of mothers like us, ambitious women who are eager to re-enter the workforce,” said Silver et. “At the same time, we discovered that companies were looking for talented, efficient and qualified women to come and work for them. “

Candidates for leadership positions benefit from a tight job market and all the skills they have been able to develop while working remotely, according to Maurice “Mo” Carver, a faculty member at New Haven University in the United States. school psychology and management departments. The former General Electric executive said that “corporate clients are looking for people who are used to engaging remotely with people who work for them, because not everyone can.”

“The ability to be innovative and to translate your work across a variety of digital platforms is more important than ever,” Carver said.

In search of diversity

Part of the reason women executives are in greater demand may have nothing to do with the working conditions brought on or exacerbated by the pandemic.

Russell Reynolds, chairman of RSR Partners, a Greenwich-based firm that specializes in finding senior executives and board members, said the biggest change his company has seen since the start of the pandemic is that companies clients are more eager to diversify their leadership teams. .

“Over 60% of our recruitments during this period have been various hires,” he said.

According to Jennifer Openshaw, CEO of the Stamford-based group Girls With Impact, the search for greater diversity among the executive workforce of American companies is driven to some extent by members of Gen Z and its reaction. to the Black Lives Matter movement. Gen Z covers people born from the late 90s to the early 2010s.

“Gen Z kept him alive,” Openshaw said of the Black Lives Matter movement. “This generation that Corpoare America seeks to hire is focused on inclusion and diversity. They want a business that doesn’t just talk, but walks the walk.

Openshaw said Girls With Impact runs a 10-week mini-MBA program open to young women aged 14 to 24. She 70 percent of the program’s graduates are women of color.

“We need to train the next generation to lead and there are many studies showing that a young woman’s confidence drops by 30% by the age of 13,” she said. “The results we are seeing from the program are out of the ordinary: 85% of our graduates feel an increase in their self-confidence. And they come out of the program with a real business plan for a start-up or an association.

This sets program graduates apart from the competition when it comes time for them to go to college, Openshaw said.

“We just had two young women who received full ride offers, from Howard and Babson,” she said.

Openshaw said a study by his organization following a venture capital competition at the University of Connecticut indicates that the state is a hotbed for female talent.

“Of the 1,000 students who participated during this period, 17% were women,” she said. “But among the student teams that finished first, second or third, 51% had a founder. And among the first-place teams, 35 percent were led by a woman; women may have been few in the competition, but their success far exceeded their numbers. “

“Well balanced, good people”

Whether fresh out of college or a mid-career executive, Sauer said that once a recruiter identifies candidates to pitch to clients, these companies must react quickly or risk losing a candidate to profit. from another employer, according to Sauer.

“Good candidates go fast in some cases as fast as two or three days,” he said. “In other cases, it’s two or three weeks max. CPA companies like to compare candidates, but we tell them if they find someone who ticks all the boxes they’re looking for, hire them. “

Sauer said that while pay levels are always important to job seekers once a job offer has been made, this topic has been left out by other considerations.

“They want a hybrid work schedule first,” he said. “And if they can’t have that, they want some flexibility in how they use their time. I have never seen a time when candidates make more counter-offers to employers.

Carver said that while companies “are more willing than ever to adapt to the location preferences” of where applicants want to work, there is no guarantee they will get what they want.

“In Connecticut, a lot of businesses will be flexible,” he said. “But companies like Chase and Google want their employees to come back to the office.”

Any business that insists on a full-time return to work in the office or may find it difficult to recruit women in Connecticut, if the results of a study released in early December by Girls With Impact are any indication.

One of the study’s findings, “Post-Covid Economic Recovery for Connecticut Women,” found 93% of those polled identified reforming childcare support policies as the top priority. to bring more women into the labor market.

While Reynolds acknowledges that candidates have the upper hand in a tight job market, he advised against potential job applicants from taking advantage of the situation.

“We’re looking to work with people who want to be of help, not those who just want to be helped,” Reynolds said. “If someone asks for too much, we tell them to look elsewhere. We are looking for well-rounded candidates, good people, not those who are just good professionally.

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