Many companies find it difficult to find female applicants for open positions. In her guest article, Lena Weigele gives tips on what companies can do better.

The majority of companies are currently complaining that they can neither find suitably qualified women nor keep them in the long term. Where does it come from? According to Statista, more women (50.2 percent) than men have been studying in Germany for the first time since the 2021/22 winter semester, and the trend has been rising for years. So the question is still relevant: How can a company successfully and sustainably increase its proportion of women?

Recruiting: Women have a significantly longer applicant journey than men, think more carefully and longer about a job change. It is far from sufficient to adapt the wording of the job description or to insert a picture of a woman. Long-term partnerships with headhunting agencies that have an established pool of applicants and support the application process individually are promising here.

Promotion: When it comes to promotion, women usually need more encouragement than men, as they often do not ask for it themselves or actively get involved. Women often find it difficult to market themselves and stand up for themselves. This in turn gives them less visibility than men, with the result that they are not considered for the next career steps. That’s why companies have to take a closer look and also discover and promote women who are “weak in self-marketing” but who are high-performing.

Lena Weigele is a coach and sparring partner for (female) executives. She is also an expert in the field of supply chain and operations. As an engineer, she has more than ten years of experience from international management positions in various companies such as the WernerCo Group, Ada Cosmetics International, Hansgrohe and the Aptar Group. Her areas of competence primarily include the areas of digital transformation, supply chain and industry 4.0, operational excellence and change management.

Retaining: Women have specific needs at different stages of life and careers, which employers have to cater to. As a career starter, women need mentoring and sparring to find security and develop self-confidence. When it comes to family planning, back support and flexible working models such as job sharing and part-time leadership are required. But not only for women, but also for men. Family friendliness pays off in the long run.

Employer branding: These measures must also be reflected in a corresponding employer branding and communicated to the outside world. If a company is successful in the field of female empowerment and has already generated role models, appropriate communication – be it on the website or LinkedIn – is a strong success factor in the recruiting process. Ideally, the role models also act as corporate influencers on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, which supports authentic employer branding and creates authenticity.

These four components must be treated and worked on in an integrative manner in order to achieve maximum results. Above all, an agile and appreciative corporate culture plays a central role here.

What can women do for their own careers if the company is not that far along and the appropriate culture or structures are in place? Here are my five key tips that help – not only women – to drive their professional success independently.

Networking: A strategically built network is a source of many opportunities and at the same time a source of strength and retreat in challenging times. Women often let their perfectionism prevent them from networking effectively. Each individual has something valuable to contribute and it doesn’t always have to be a rocket science speech to start a conversation and make contacts. Often women are not comfortable with networking, sometimes even opportunistic. The network rule of thumb 70/20/10 helps here: 70 percent give, 20 percent communication and “only” 10 percent take. If the inhibitions remain: Do not go to a meeting alone, but take a friend or colleague with you.

Visibility and self-marketing: Those who are not seen will not be promoted or proposed for project management. Consistently placing power in the right places is key. If you’re struggling to promote yourself, think about how your team or other people will benefit from your visibility.

Standing and personal branding: Standing (= reputation) is a factor that should not be underestimated, especially when it comes to the next step in your career. The higher the standing, the higher your own design options and sphere of influence.

My rule of thumb here is simple: Networking visibility top performance = standing.

The transition from standing to personal branding is then fluid. Your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. Each of us has one – whether consciously or unconsciously. It is all the more important to actively influence this and to communicate the image to the outside world in order to shape congruence in a self-determined manner.

Confident communication and action: Actio does not always mean reactio. In the case of inappropriate comments, the first thing to do is to remain silent instead of reacting too quickly. Observe your counterpart like a rare animal that you have never seen before. Speak slowly and give weight to your words. Don’t let yourself be provoked and don’t fall into justification mode. Learn to express your opinion without falling into the harmony trap. This gives you standing and saves you from mental loops.

Last but not least mindset: 80 percent of success comes from a successful mindset, only the remaining 20 percent consists of doing the top four points. Work with short-term and long-term goals. Start the day by setting intentions about what you want to achieve. End the day by reflecting on what you did and didn’t do, and how it made you feel. Write down your thoughts and analyze them. And even if something doesn’t go as planned, always write down 5 learnings and positive points in the respective situation.

Put your focus on the positive and success – what you believe is what you achieve.

The Mission Female business network, founded by Frederike Probert, is actively committed to more female power in business, society, media, culture, sports and politics. It unites successful women across all industries with the aim of making further professional progress together.