Based on the preferences of more than 15,000 university students in the UK, including around 9,000 Female and 6,500 Male, Universum releases the talent attraction study: “The 2012 Ideal Employers Gender Gap”. The study analyses the career preferences of men and women, including their preferred industries, salary aspirations, attributes of employer attractiveness and Ideal Employers split into the business category – preferences from business students - and engineering category – preferences from engineering and IT students.

The study reveals some dramatic differences

1. Men and Women seek to work in different industries

The stereotypes are prevailing: while men wish to work in the banking sector, financial services and engineering & manufacturing, women aspire to work in educational & research institutions, the public sector & Governmental Agencies and media & advertisement. These dramatic differences in attractiveness are a challenge to companies that operate in a diverse and international environment – after all, companies need to be able to match their client base with human resources that can understand the target group.

“What we start to see is that many companies have the ambition to balance their gender attraction levels. In fact there are some great examples of gender balance initiatives. What we don’t see yet is similar efforts being conducted by industry associations in order to break the current stereotypes”, says Claudia Tattanelli, Universum’s Director Global Relations

“Creating and sustaining a diverse and inclusive work environment is a business imperative for Morgan Stanley. Our clients demand it of our teams, our global footprint requires it to succeed in a range of cultures, and our ongoing pursuit of the best talent is dependent on it.” Added Rob Rooney, EMEA Diversity Champion, Head of EMEA Fixed Income and Global Head of Fixed Income Client Coverage

Stefan Bachman, EMEA Staffing Director, complemented: “It's the diversity of our perspectives that makes HP great. We value all of our people for their distinctive skills, experiences and ideas. So we are deliberate about the way we cultivate diversity and make sure no one's excluded - both in the workplace and beyond.

In EMEA we have a strong focus on attracting the brightest graduates to our HP Graduate Programs and a big component is providing an equal opportunity to both females and males. Looking 3 years back at our graduate cohorts, we have achieved to hire almost the same numbers of both genders.”

“For diversity programs to gain credibility and acceptance within the management consulting industry, the rationale and expected impact on long-term business results should be highlighted.  Clients require firms to provide them with well-balanced advice that is based on the work of a diverse set of professionals. Ensuring gender equality is therefore a business imperative for the industry as a whole.”  Niamh Dawson, Women's Initiative Leader for BCG London, The Boston Consulting Group

2. There’s a salary gap expectation of 17%

When analyzing the aggregate starting salary expectations of all male and female students, the study identifies a salary gap of 17% or £4,050 annually, with men demanding £2,320 per month, and women having an average expectation of £1,980. “Historically we have always seen a real salary gap in between man and women. However, we still find it surprising that part of this pay gap might come from the different expectations that both genders have. It will take strong corporate policies in gender equality to ensure that society becomes fairer”, commented Ms. Tattanelli.

“We always aim at having an equal environment when it comes to pay and benefits. But the breadth of the value offering reaches far and wide whether it’s personal development programmes, mentoring and sponsorship opportunities or supporting individuals work life balance with flexible working, maternity support and parenting resources to name a few. At Citi we also engage with female students through a number of initiatives to raise their perception of a career in banking and dispel some myths. This is done through education and going out on campus to invite female students to take a look at a career with us. One such initiative is called ‘Women of Tomorrow’ where students spend a number of days at Citi to experience all that we have to offer them as they embark into the world of work.” Added Emma Cashmore, Head of Diversity EMEA at Citi

3. Idealists vs Careerists

While both genders pursue work/life balance and stability in their jobs, there are some clear differences in what drives men and women in the long-term. The study reveals that women have the ambition of “to be dedicated to a cause or to feel that I am serving a greater good” while men aspire “to be a technical or functional expert”. These differences are also clearly reflected in the personality profiles identified in the research: women prevail over men as being “Idealists”, while men seem themselves more as “careerists”.

“We believe that we attract both men and women to apply for a career with P&G because they recognise our position in the industry, the career opportunities we can provide both in terms of the brands they can work on and the potential for growth and geographical experience available in a global company. We also work hard to communicate and sell the values of our company; what we stand for, our purpose as a business and all things we do on sustainability, in our community and through philanthropy. Finally, the workplace culture we foster is also crucial.” Jennifer Boylan, Talent Manager UK/Ireland & Nordics

Stephen Isherwood, head of graduate recruitment for Ernst & Young in the UK added:

 “We have introduced a range of programmes to support our high potential women and Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) employees as they progress through their careers, to remove any blockages in our talent pipelines. Maternity coaching, employee networks, unconscious bias training and careers coaching are just some of the initiatives in place.”

4. Size and image matters

Size does matter: macro employers (with more than 1,000 employees) are men’s preferred option to start their career, while women seek to work for medium-sized employers (100-500 employees).

On the image level, differences are even sounder: Men aspire to work in companies that they perceive having constant innovation, offering a high-level of responsibility, focusing on recruiting only top performers and having in place rapid promotion schemes; Women want companies perceived as having ethical standards, opportunities for international travel/relocation, that have respect for its people and that are a good reference for future career.

“While it’s clear that men want a large environment where they can be quickly promoted and take on extra responsibility, women seek a more balanced environment where they can develop themselves personally and get ready for their future”, added Ms. Tattanelli.

Unilever added: “To ensure that employees, and especially women, have the right tools to work with maximum flexibility, agile working was launched in 2009.  By using technology, workers work anytime, anywhere as long as business needs are being fully met. An agile worker’s performance is determined by results, not ‘time and attendance.’”

Erica Briody, Talent Acquisition Leader Europe concluded: “At GE, we work with schools to ensure the future of tomorrow understands the benefits of selecting a career outside of the traditional industries. We have a fantastic ‘Women’s Network’ offering specific training and development for women, how to manage the guilt that any mother has trying to find a balance, learning from inspirational speakers. We spend 1 billion a year in training because we believe that everyone has a place at GE’.”