Do you know who your job adverts attract? Is it the right kind of candidate for your company or are you left scratching your head as to why you have so few women or underrepresented talent applying to roles?
There are certain linguistic realities to consider. Forbes finds that the language you use can either attract or repel candidates based on their gender and other factors. Research shows that some words used in job postings reflect unconscious biases and not only have a big impact on who applies but also subsequently sustain or widen the pay gap.
According to Mckinsey, gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform those that aren’t, so it’s in every company’s best interest to not only prioritise having more diverse teams but also to look at the leadership makeup of those teams.
Research collected by the Harvard Business Review finds that bias interferes with diversity, recruiting, promotions, and retention efforts in the workplace. If not addressed the right way, it can create a vicious circle of reinforced stereotypes and a culture of toxicity and exclusion that doesn’t make at all for a healthy work environment.
Research has also found that gender-neutral language increases the application rate.
Ultimately, the goal should be to create an inclusive and more equitable workplace for all and start as early as the job advertisement.
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Compared to other languages, English isn’t particularly gendered. Most examples of gendered language appear when we’re talking about pronouns – or most notably, jobs. A few key examples of this would be ‘waiter’ vs ‘waitress’ or ‘actor’ vs ‘actress’. This often leads to a job being associated with a particular gender.
Appcast’s “Impact of Gendered Wording on Candidate Attraction” Report found that even though job ads that use gender-neutral language perform “overwhelmingly” better, it’s only used about 38% of the time.
It is a balancing act because some words play into female stereotypes and others play into male stereotypes. Both can discourage the opposite party from applying. For example, research shows that adjectives like “competitive” and “determined,” can deter women and lead them to believe that they wouldn’t belong in that kind of work environment. Words like “collaborative” and “cooperative”, however, tend to attract more women than men.
Also always opt for gender-neutral titles in your posts, for example using “Chairperson” rather than “Chairman”.
The easiest way to make job ads and descriptions more gender inclusive is to pay attention to pronouns. Steer clear of using gendered pronouns like he’, ‘she’, ‘him’, ‘his’ and ‘her’, when describing the role or any of its related tasks and stick to “you” instead.
Did you know that men will apply for a job they only meet 60% of the qualifications for, but women will only apply if they meet 100%?
When defining the major requirements for a role, try and take this into account and make sure that you mention only what’s necessary. Anything else can be listed as a nice-to-have.
You could also be limiting your talent pool by asking for specific degrees, qualifications, or courses. It poses a major obstacle if it’s not necessary. Removing the need for a degree opens it up to anyone who might not have the means or opportunity to graduate from university, but still have the skills and experience that you need.
Candidates need to get a feel for your culture before they even apply. They need to know they’ll be welcome and supported before they apply.
So make a point towards the end of the job post to emphasize just how important diversity and equality are at your company. It helps set the intention that you’re committed to making the workplace a friendly and inclusive one and attract the kind of people that will only add to that.
A CareerPlug survey found that 66% of employees said that they would stay at their current job if their employer offered additional benefits instead of a pay increase.
Let candidates know exactly what benefits you offer, especially if it could benefit parents. Parental leave, flextime, and child care subsidies are a big draw for working parents and could attract a lot more working mothers that have the skills you’re looking for.
The free tool Gender Decoder helps to identify problematic word choices and help you fix them. This also goes beyond just gendered language and dives into the nuances.
For example, the words “analyse” and “determine” are typically considered male traits, while “collaborate” and “support” are considered female. It will also recommend avoiding aggressive language like “crush it.”
Eploy’s ‘Check My Job’ tool checks your job descriptions for unconscious gender bias, length, and recruitment best practices.
It tells you whether your post is Masculine, Feminine, or Neutral Coded as well as prompts you to provide an equal opportunities statement if it doesn’t detect one. It also provides a full list of feminine, masculine, and neutral words that you can swap out to strike the right balance.
The Applied Text Analysis provides an inclusion score which shows factors that help to make your job appeal to a broader audience, as well as a conversion score that lets you know how likely your post is to be read and understood. The higher the score out of 100, the better.
It also lets you know if your post comes across as Masculine, Feminine, or Neutral Coded.
Textio calculates bias. It identifies language patterns that are considered gendered by looking at how the wording statistically changes the proportion of men and women who respond to a job post with the help of outcomes within their customers’ hiring data.
Every job post is assigned a bias score according to the presence or absence of gendered language patterns.
These are just a few of the ways that you can remove bias from your job posts. We use all of them – and more – at Move and they’ve shown proven results in attracting a more diverse talent pool.
However, while gender decoders are great and have the right intent, as a society we need to look beyond coding words as male or female and start questioning why they’re labelled as such in the first place and changing the mindset around them. That’s a longer-term vision, but important conversations to have just the same.
Give these tips a try yourself, or if you would like a little more expertise on the topics of diverse sourcing and creating a DE&I strategy, get in touch. We’d be happy to lend a hand.