Nine strategies for attracting and retaining talented women

A recent thread on a women in tech group produced some great suggestions for attracting and retaining women in tech, particularly in a environment where men are in the majority. The suggestions seem so relevant to any industry, that I thought I’d share them here.

For the record, I can’t take credit for any of them (except number eight, of course!) – and I’ve listed the brilliant and thoughtful authors below.


Employers should:

  1. Offer access to female mentors.
  2. Have a physical environment that is inclusive of both genders.
  3. Have at least one woman in a management role.
  4. Go on record as supporting women-in-tech (even on their blog).
  5. Host Women-In-Tech events (or participate in them).
  6. Make sure managers ensure all employees are heard and actively and openly discourage interrupting and "mansplaining".
  7. Have a strong no tolerance policy for sexism, even as small "jokes"
  8. Offer working patterns which enable them to combine work and parenting (or other priorities) - like job-sharing!
  9. Have a proper onboarding process, which could include:
  • Making sure that the person's workspace is ready: clean, inviting and with all of the technology needed set up properly.
  • A welcome card signed by the rest of the team.
  • Printing out or link to the company's values / mission.
  • Making sure someone is on hand to introduce her to the rest of the team. This should be informal one-on-ones, so everyone knows who she is and what her role. It also means she knows exactly who to go to for what. This should be followed up with an org chart – names, roles, description and ideally a photo (so she doesn’t have to conduct a herculean feat of memory on her first day).
  • Introducing her formally at the next company meeting. It works well to have a few slides about her background and her expertise so that the whole companies immediately grasps her credibility.
  • Allocating a buddy who can help her navigate the informal parts of work (unwritten rules, where's the best place to eat nearby etc…)
  • Setting a meeting on the first day with the person she'll report to, so they can explain their expectations/way of working and also ascertain how she likes to work/what's motivating to her etc.
  • Setting a follow-up meeting for 2 weeks time to check in on what's going well / what else she needs.


These great ideas were set out on Ada’s List by Brenda Della Casa, Camille Emefa Acey, Cheryl Adamson and Laura Gilmour in response to a question framed by Kunjal Tanna.

Sara Allen