Many companies fall short on a gender balanced recruitment checklist
Dorothy Dalton explains why from 30 years in the executive search business
The business case for gender balance is incontrovertible, yet progress is slow or the needle isn’t moving as expected. But despite that, you always know when an initiative is about to move forward because people not involved in gender balance or recruitment and especially gender balanced recruitment, are starting to pitch in with their 10 cents worth. They see the business opportunities in what is to them a potentially new sector. For those of us who have been around longer we are more familiar with the challenges.
The reality is that most recruitment processes need a complete overhaul to properly address the question of gender balance and diversity. This requires a thorough and basic steps guide through your gender balanced recruitment check list. Where are you now?
Your gender balanced recruitment check list
Ensure that everyone in your process has received unconscious bias training
Most people involved in the hiring process have not received unconscious bias training. They are riddled with bias. We all are. Most are not aware of their own biases or even the biases of their organisations. It is these biases which under pin the concept of “cultural fit” via affinity and conformity bias. Both men and women can exhibit these biases in equal measure. I have even gone as far as to say if you are not bias aware you shouldn’t be a recruiter. It is the top priority on your check list and one that is incredibly hard to achieve because resistance is significance.
Create inclusive adverts, profiles and documentation
We know male coded adverts put off female applicants, yet gender neutral adverts don’t deter male applicants. There are now apps on the market which allow you to run through your documentation to check that they are suitable neutral. I use Kat Matfield and Textio although I’m not in favour of becoming a slave to them. Some terms are male coded for historical reasons and we aim to change history.
Build gender neutral application processes
Blind CVs are becoming increasingly common in large organisations, although this requires some software investment, but is a good step towards gender balanced recruitment.
Run gender neutral and structured interviews in a bias aware environment
Research suggests that the way we normally like to interview is found to be 85% ineffective. Despite our best efforts all our biases kick in and decisions are made for emotional rather than rational reasons. Structured interviews allow interviews to be evaluated on a balanced score card. A bias conscious environment allows us to flag up to our fellow interviews to reflect carefully when biases might be kicking in, rather than factual neutral assessment. The skill is to create a culture where this is the norm.
Automated interviews also help with this. Regarded as favouring the “Periscope” generation and being less candidate friendly, they can be very successful particularly in the assessment of technical skills. Care has to be taken that bias can kick in when the interviews are being evaluated.
Fish where there are fish.
Make sure you are looking for female candidates in the right places, not where there aren’t any. Many involved in tech and engineering recruitment bemoan the lack of female talent, yet continue to look in the same university courses where they already know female enrollment is low. This means out of the box thinking and letting go of conformity bias which keeps recruiters trapped there. It may even mean bringing in female candidates with strong numerical reasoning test results and setting up an in-house training programmes. This is is looping back 50 years when Tech vet Naomi Bloom passed through a similar process.
Over the years we have seen a falling off of female students in STEM subjects so we have to get creative.
Women, more frequently than men, have incomplete LinkedIn profiles so sourcing strategies have to be broader. Research from Catalyst indicates that women look outside their organisations less frequently than men. The direct approach may take a little longer to build up trust, so factor that into your timeline calculations.
Create gender balanced short lists.
This is why 3Plus is called 3Plus. Remember you need 3 candidates on each short list to make a difference. Asking for a token woman will only serve to see the rejection of that female candidate.
Understand what attracts women to organisations and why they leave.
Most organisations think that it’s the lack of flexibility or salary which make women want to leave. It actually is not totally about that but the toxic unrewarding cultures and dealing with the unrelenting sexism which is commonplace in many organisations. Retention rates can be improved by an honest and transparent evaluation of your corporate culture and workplace practises.
Consider returnship and alumnae programmes
60% of European graduates are women and yet many are stuck working below their potential are forced to leave for family reasons. Creating returnship programmes is a great way to tap into lost talent and allow corporate alumnae an opportunity to return to a professional activity. 3Plus has a register of highly qualified returners with strong transferable skills. Contact us.
Mentor your candidate
Because women focus on internal opportunities more than men, they may need some support navigating the subtitles of what is still a male coded process. It may be necessary to offer guidance and act as a mentor if you anticipate difficulties.
By implementing these practices you will quickly be on your way to a gender balanced recruitment process.