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Avoiding gender bias In job adverts is simple


Jim Taylor Jim Taylor



SEO, Talent Attraction

We’ve created the free-to-use tool Job Page Grader with our partners Beamery to help anyone that’s creating a job page make it engaging, effective, and successful in attracting the candidates they need. The ideal result from a great job page is not just finding someone who’s a great fit for your business and its culture and values, but that you also end up having an excess of great candidates that you can use as a talent pool, to dip into as and when you have new opportunities available.

To be a successful, high-performing team requires a diversity of background, skills, and experience, with empathy, understanding, and respect for one another. It makes great business sense to embrace diversity and to operate a fully inclusive recruitment strategy. In large businesses, there’s usually dedicated HR teams working proactively to hire a diverse workforce. But for smaller businesses, with fewer positions to fill and an HR provision that can often be ad-hoc, gender bias when trying to hire can be an issue. But whatever the size of your business, when needing to add to your team it can be all too easy to write a job advert that inadvertently shows gender bias.

Avoiding gender bias In job adverts is simple

So what is gender bias?

In a nutshell, gender bias is the tendency to prefer one gender over another. A simple example of gender bias in a recruitment scenario (which discrimination legislation has now thankfully banished), would be to advertise for a ‘handyman’ or ‘waitress’. Those days are gone, but gender bias often happens unconsciously, by attributing stereotypes to another person or group of people. It’s fair to say that gender bias mostly means preferential treatment for white males above anyone else.

To illustrate why gender bias needs to be something to avoid, consider Hewlett Packard’s research from a few years ago, which reported that men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women only apply if they meet 100% of them. So if you’re job pages are full of lists of strict requirements, responsibilities, and qualifications, you’ll be discouraging women to apply and guilty of unconscious gender bias. You’re also closing the door on an enormous amount of great talent. You’re far better off using the Hollywood formula for job page content we recommend in the first of this series of blogs to better engage your audience and get a diverse range of applicants.

The words that you use all across your job pages can often show a gender bias, and later in this series, we’ll show you how to write to avoid it to get more diversity into your talent pool. But simply put, certain words that you may use to describe the opportunity you have available will appeal more to men than to women. This paper from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology gives you chapter and verse on the topic of gender bias and has a huge list of words classified by gender. We also have a blog detailing 6 ways to check if your job adverts are gender-biased.

At the end of the day, by avoiding gender bias you’re opening up your opportunities to a much wider range of people. By using your employer brand and employee value proposition to inform your content avoiding bias you’ll get a diverse range of candidates applying which means a bigger candidate pool and a high-performing team.

Check your pages for gender bias right now over at Job Page Grader and don’t hesitate to get in touch if we can help you more.

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