You have a job opening and you want to attract a diverse group of applicants. How do you go about preparing to hire women and minorities in an industry that has been dominated by white men?
Words such as “exhaustive”, “enforcement” and “fearless” can prove more enticing to male applicants, while phrases such as “transparent”, “catalyst” and “in touch with” are seen as having a more feminine tone. (The Independent)
The words you choose to include in your job postings for candidates have a strong bearing on the people you attract. If you’ve been using the same language in your classified advertisements and online marketing over and over again with no improved results, consider a change.
Women and minorities are looking to work for a company culture that is inclusive and welcoming. If your ads and job postings don’t reflect that image, they may not even consider sending in a resume.
In the Geek Feminist article, they offer these great suggestions to consider when composing your advertisement:
- Explicitly state in your job advertisements that you welcome applications from members of minority groups and that you do not discriminate on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, religion, disabilities etc. (even if such discrimination is illegal in your area anyway, stating it outright makes diverse applicants feel more welcome)
- Emphasize objective, measurable, and relevant qualifications over “cultural” or male associated personality traits
- Call out specific skills that women are socialized to be comfortable with associating with themselves: collaborative working style, interpersonal skills, time management
- Evaluate your hiring criteria and procedures carefully to make sure they are not emphasizing “cultural fit” qualities that actually mean “very like us”
They also suggest that you consider seeking candidates outside your normal geeky male environment:
- Headhunt senior candidates as well as soliciting applications through advertisement
- Advertise in women’s geek groups (where allowed, many have job ad facilities)
- Actively monitor women’s geek groups and consider their most active volunteers for roles
- Offer small additional referral bonuses for diversity candidates
One common practice in male-dominated fields is the use of sports metaphors when communicating goals and sales strategies. However, this tactic may be hurting you rather than helping you. The Hiring Site offered this advice if you are seeking more females candidates:
- Avoid using male connotations, such as sports metaphors, pictures that only present male workers, etc. in your job ads.
It isn’t fourth and long or time to get off the pot. Use comparisons that are gender neutral to attract a more diverse pool of candidates.
Switch Focus from Gender to Curiosity
Harvard Business Review has written an article offering suggestions for seeking those who are curious. The mere language of “being curious” is gender-friendly and perhaps is even more inviting to women. In the article Research: 83% of Executives Say They Encourage Curiosity. Just 52% of Employees Agree, by Spencer Harrison, et al, the team offers a few examples for job inquiries:
- “If you have a passion and curiosity for what is possible and enjoy people, we invite you to join us on this mission” (posting for a retail sales position);
- “We are counting on you to bring a genuine curiosity about how consumers search for information” (posting for a data analyst role);
- “Because our world is continuously evolving, you’ll need to possess a curiosity and a love of learning” (posting for a digital content writer role).
The idea of putting the focus on a gender-neutral point-of-view, like curiosity, rather than traditional male-dominated traits will help increase the number of women that are interested in applying for a position.
Back to You
If your company is serious about creating a more diverse team, changes will need to be made, not just to how and where you advertise but also in the basic culture of your company. People want to work where they feel wanted and part of a team. Take a close look at how outsiders perceive your company. Do you need to make a few adjustments?
- Understanding Gender Bias for Women in Technology
- What’s in a Name? Gender Bias
- How Dads Can Help Girls in Technology
- Unconscious Bias Education Tour Traveling to 100 Cities
JJ DiGeronimo — the president of Tech Savvy Women — is a speaker, author, and thought leader for women in tech and girls and STEM. Through her work, JJ empowers professional women and consults with senior executives on strategies to retain and attract women in technology to increase thought and leadership diversity within organizations.
Don’t miss our online resources library for eCourses, online discussions, downloads, retreats and tools for professional women. Learn more here.