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Working towards a fair and representative 50/50 gender balance of applicants

We are increasingly being asked by our clients to submit shortlists for searches which demonstrate 50/50 gender balance. For most roles, it is simply impossible for us to do this whilst remaining true to our values.

We might arrive, for example, at a shortlist of six suitable candidates, comprising one woman and five men. The reason for this is that the finance industry is so male-dominated.

As a result of this situation, we have two choices.

Do we:
a) Submit a shortlist of two (1 woman and 1 man) and unfairly exclude the
other four suitable male candidates?

Or:
b) Include two additional women who didn’t meet the criteria for the role,
and submit a shortlist of six (3 women and 3 men)?

Wouldn’t it be better if we were able to select three women and three men who all met the criteria, and give the client a 50/50 shortlist that makes sense, is true to our values, and represents a genuine cross-section of the candidate market?

The only way this will happen is that if, in future years, a greater proportion of young women enter the industry.