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Overcoming the gender divide in social care

Lee Biggins, Founder and CEO of CV-Library

Social care has long faced a worrying shortfall in staff; and at this time of crisis, this issue is even more pronounced. One of the main problems is that the sector remains largely female-dominated and figures show that 90% of the NHS’s nurses, midwives and health visitors are women. 

We know that a lot of men are put off by stereotypes of these traditionally ‘female-led’ jobs and unfortunately, this stigma isn’t one that will disappear overnight. 

But, there remains a real need to encourage more men to join the industry at all levels. In this article, we talk through some of the actions employers can take to help overcome the gender divide when hiring in the social care industry. 

Reassess your job adverts 

The job advert is the first insight a candidate will have of a role and company. The issue is, a lot of organisations fall at the first hurdle by advertising jobs with unclear descriptions, or that just don’t sound appealing. 

What’s more, you may be using gender-bias language in your job adverts without even realising it; and, this can put people off applying altogether.  

Studies show that words like ‘lead’ and ‘active’ are typically favoured by male candidates, while words like ‘support’ and ‘dependable’ are generally associated with females.  

Given the nature of the social care industry, the language that’s used in job adverts is typically more associated with women, which is part of the bigger problem. However, you may choose to focus on aspects such as helping people to move around, or lifting them from their beds. 

Alongside this, stating that you are an inclusive employer with a dynamic workplace in your job adverts is a good move, if you can back this up with evidence that you actually are. Ultimately, it’s important to tackle this piece of the puzzle first and ensure your adverts aren’t off-putting. 

Promote the range of opportunities available  

We all know that working in the social care industry can be extremely rewarding. But more needs to be done to promote the benefits of working in the sector and the range of opportunities available. Especially as a lot of men prefer to receive care from other males. 

This can be done in your job adverts, on the careers page of your website and on social media. Use testimonials from your employees to show people the benefits of working in the industry. Even better if you’re able to use a range of case studies from both male and female workers to encourage more diversity. 

You may even consider displaying profiles of what different jobs in the sector involve. This will mean potential candidates see your website as a go-to resource for finding out more about working in the industry; and they may read about a role they didn’t know existed. 

Focus on retention as well as recruitment  

Research shows that around 16,000 nurses leave the profession every year and this means the sector is missing out on a huge amount of valuable talent. For that reason, it’s just as important to focus on retaining your employees as it is recruiting them.  

There are a number of reasons why people may choose to find another job; maybe they aren’t happy with their pay, they don’t like their colleagues, or they don’t get along with their manager. 

You should always seek to build positive relationships with your team members and give back where possible. Reward and thank them for their hard work; make them feel valued.  

There’s no use the industry trying to attract more men into the sector, if they’re only going to leave the profession a year later. So, invest in your retention efforts as much as possible. 

In summary 

The gender divide problem in the social care industry is not the sole responsibility of employers. Indeed, the government plays a massive part in overcoming the issue and helping to attract more men to work in the sector through effective education and career advice. 

Remember, your workforce should ideally reflect the people you’re catering for. Diversity is extremely important and will continue to be a key focus point in years to come. 






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