Having a diverse workforce isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s good for your bottom line. Many studies, for example, link high female representation with overall success. Take a recent UC Davis study, which found that companies with a high percentage of female executives and board members have a 74% higher return on assets and return on equity than average.
However, unintentional bias and gender discrimination in the recruitment process can hinder an organization’s ability to hire and retain female workers. The below infographic from MedReps shares some interesting findings about how gender bias affects women throughout the recruitment process.
Write gender-neutral job descriptions
Gender discriminiation and bias may begin before you even speak with a candidate. Men will apply for a job when they are only 60% qualified, while women will only apply when they are 100% qualified. Your job description may be repelling qualified female applicants if you list nonessential skills and qualifications, or if you use masculine words like “assertive” or “aggressive.” Job descriptions are often a laundry list of qualifications that represent an unrealistic expectation, and companies internally prioritize each qualification to rank candidates. If women don’t feel like they’d be a good fit for the role, both in terms of qualifications and personality, they don’t bother to apply. Men, on the other hand, are not as concerned about being a perfect fit before applying.
Write better job descriptions by focusing on your must-have skills and qualifications, and using gender-neutral or feminine words to describe them. For instance, say “We’re looking for an enthusiastic salesperson with great interpersonal skills who has a track record of success selling enterprise products,” rather than “We’re looking for an ambitious and aggressive individual with 3-5 years of experience selling into Fortune 500 companies.” When you write job descriptions, separate out required and desired qualifications. Ask both men and women in your company to review each job description to ensure that it accurately represents the job’s required qualifications and appeals to both genders.
Be aware of unconscious bias in the interview process
The goal with any interview process is to hire the most qualified candidate, but an unconscious gender bias can often get in the way. The infographic states that, without knowing anything about a candidate’s work experience, employers expected male candidates to outperform female candidates. And, when employers only had appearance to go by, both male and female recruiters were twice as likely to hire a man than a woman.
Simply being aware of this gender bias can help you adjust for it. To make sure you’re evaluating men and women on a level playing field, it helps to know what qualities you are looking for in a candidate before they come in, so you can gather the data points you need in order to objectively compare candidates regardless of gender. Ask yourself questions like, do they have the minimum skills and qualifications to do the job? Do they have fresh, innovative ideas that your current team hasn’t considered? When a candidate search produces several great candidates, be careful about going with your gut. Instead, think carefully about how each candidate could provide the best value to your company.
Determine fair salary ranges
It’s been said that women earn less than men because they don’t negotiate, but the infographic shows that 52% of men and 47% of women reported asking for a higher salary during the recruitment process. Despite this, women who have successful salary negotiations are offered a lower salary than men for the same position.
Compensation is a major factor in attracting and retaining talent – regardless of gender. While it’s a good talent attraction practice to offer at least a 10% salary increase over a candidate’s current role, it’s also important to keep in mind that women earn 78 cents for every dollar a man earns. Offering each candidate a fixed increase over their current salary may be an unfair compensation practice. Instead, consider market rates during offer negotiations, based on job level, experience, education, skills and location, to determine a fair salary range for each position. Leave some room for negotiation, when necessary to close a great candidate – but try to keep your offers for a given position in close range of one another. When you offer market rates or above for all positions, you should be able to attract and retain top talent while maintaining fair compensation practices.
Gender discrimination bias is often unintentional, but being aware of the places it lurks in your recruitment process can help you eliminate it. When you’re aware that bias exists, you can take steps to change how you attract and assess candidates, as well as how you close and retain them. While this data has focused specifically on gender bias, the learnings can be applied to all candidates to help you build a diverse and innovative workforce.
Everyone is buzzing about diversity in the workplace, but how do you actually make it a reality? At Lever, we recently hosted an event with a panel of distinguished talent leaders to discuss how companies can walk the talk when it comes to recruiting for diversity. Read the post here for the main takeaways.