Today, we see and hear a lot about gender equality and diversity within the workplace. As a result, it’s easy to think that gender discrimination is a thing of the past, however, there are still millions of women across the world who face gender discrimination and lack of equality each day, and often, far too close to home.
Often, organisations can unintentionally create a lack of fair opportunities for women through practices, language and procedures that can exclude them. While many hiring managers, HR professionals and businesses would be horrified to learn of such actions, it’s vital that the correct education and training is put in place to avoid this.
Below, we’ll go through some of the best practices for promoting gender equality in your hiring process and recruitment initiatives.
1. Using neutral language in job descriptions
Job descriptions that do not have gender-neutral language is something we see a lot in the corporate world. Often, it’s completely unintentional and can be difficult to pick up on to the untrained eye, yet there’s subtle wording that can subconsciously deter certain groups of people from applying for a job.
Interestingly, statistics show that men will apply for a job where they only meet 60% of the job criteria, whereas women are more likely to only apply for a job if they meet 100% of the skill, certification or experience criteria. As a result, small changes like adding a sentence about not needing to meet all of the criteria make a huge difference.
We love this example below from Deliveroo…
More information on using gender-neutral language can be found in this comprehensive guide from the United Nations.
2. Provide training around gender specific equality and diversity
Unconscious bias can be a persistent problem when it comes to recruitment. The best way to tackle unconscious bias is to provide the right training and education that identifies behaviours, attitudes and beliefs that contribute towards gender discrimination and lack of equality.
For HR departments, we recommend investing in training with a professional body or inclusion specialist. It’s also a good idea to offer this training to hiring managers, team leaders and senior colleagues within your business. This could be something as small as a series of lunchtime awareness sessions on diversity and inclusivity.
3. Involve more people in the interview process
Often, it can be intimidating for a male candidate to be interviewed by a panel of all women, or vice versa. In order to ensure both genders are equally represented on the hiring panel, try to get more people involved in the hiring process.
This will help the candidate to feel more equally represented and allow for different perspectives when the candidate is answering questions. If it’s not possible to get others involved in the process, at least try to ensure there is one male and one female involved in the hiring process.
4. Get feedback from other female employees within the company
It’s important that all employees within your company, and especially females, feel they have a place where their voices can be heard. Providing an open forum or anonymous feedback procedure for female employees will help your organisation to gather information on how female employees feel within your company.
This can help to highlight any issues that you didn’t realise were there or confirm certain things your organisation is doing well. While many companies avoid this due to fear of opening the floor up to potential issues, it’s essential to get this out in the open and address any issues so they don’t grow down the line.
5. Provide flexibility
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted many things about our traditional ways of working which perhaps haven’t supported optimal efficiency. While remote working has shown that many workers can perform at their jobs better and obtain a better work/life balance and mental wellbeing, consider looking beyond this to support female employees.
Such support could include:
- Allowing later starts and earlier finishes in the winter months so female employees do not have to commute in the dark if they feel uncomfortable.
- Creating a more enhanced parental / maternity policy.
- Creating job shares or condensed hours to help female employees with families.
- Offering more flexible interview timeslots that are outside business hours.
- Be more open minded in your hiring requirements – is having X degree from a ‘Russel Group university’ really a genuine mark of suitability?
Overall, while many businesses across the globe actively employ high quality diversity and equality procedures, there are still a variety of measures that can be implemented to further improve women’s experiences within the workplace. From unconscious bias to company policies that unintentionally exclude or make it difficult for women to pursue their goals, we can all contribute towards breaking the bias.
For more support on deploying equality and diversity measures in your organisations hiring practices, get in touch to see how the Leonid team can help.