Are Your Job Adverts Gender Biased?

Part of my role here at Wired Sussex is speaking to members and giving advice and support around their recruitment. A common trend I have noticed recently is questions concerning accidental gender bias when writing a job advertisement.

With that in mind; I thought we could take a look at some of the things you might consider when advertising your next job.

If you have ever been left wondering why your job adverts seem to have a drastic imbalance in the gender of candidates that are applying, there may be something within the description that is putting people off.

We regularly use language that is subtly ‘gender-coded’ (i.e. words that are biased toward one gender) without even realising it. This is no exception when it comes to writing job descriptions. Unconscious bias can affect how people respond and could lead to your company missing out on top talent as a result, with people less likely to apply to job ads that favour another gender.

So, what can we do about it?

The good news is, with a few simple changes to your choice of words, you can instantly expand your reach and the number of potential applicants.

Get the right tools:

The better news is that there are already tools out there to help you easily achieve this. Our Skills & Talent Manager, James Brooklyn, has been talking to some of our members who specialise in HR and found that the two most commonly recommended toolkits to help get you started are:

Textio: This augmented writing platform determines who will respond to you based on the language you have used and then gives you guidance on how to improve your writing.

Gender Decoder: This free-to-use site is a quick and easy way to check whether a job advert has the kind of subtle linguistic gender-coding that has a discouraging effect.

Distinguish between your essentials & desirables:

Another important thing to keep in mind is that by including a large list of qualifying factors in a job advert, you are risking alienating candidates who have most of the skills and abilities you’re looking for but don’t have some of the low-priority traits that you have included.

In 2014, research completed by HP found that women are unlikely to apply for a position unless they meet 100% of a job’s requirements, while men will apply if they meet 60% of the requirements.

So, reassess your person specification and identify your essential skills and requirements and those that are more desirable additions.

Establish your brand values:

Do your brand values encourage and promote diversity? If so, clearly list them in your job adverts.

It is crucial to remember that a job advert should be seen as an advertisement for your company – a way to entice people to want to be part of it. Thousands of job seekers will read your advert on Wired Sussex and subsequently, an opinion of your company will be formed. Therefore, you must choose your words wisely!

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Studies have shown the most successful companies progress by having access to the widest pool of talent. So, take some time when writing your next job advert to consider how the language you use could impact the volume and calibre of applications you receive. If you need any support or advice, we’re here to help, so don’t hesitate to get in touch: mia@wiredsussex.com

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