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Fighting Gender Bias in Job Ads

Posted by Aimee Treasure on Aug 23, 2019 5:09:29 PM 1566576568509
Aimee Treasure
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Unfortunately, even today unconscious bias is still a part of the recruitment process. Good recruiters will go out of their way to unlearn biases, and good companies will provide training to further ensure that everyone gets an equal chance.

Because recruitment is such a human field, bias is often baked into the practices, language, and systems used in recruitment. Much research has gone into this, and efforts are being made at every level to combat these biases.

We know diverse workforces perform better. Recruitment needs to deliver the right talent for the job, and biases are directly hindering their ability to do that. Here's why, and what needs to change. 

Why Bias Exists In Recruitment:


  • The List Of Necessary And Preferred Qualities Is Biased

The first step when drafting a job ab is usually creating a list of the qualities and applicant should have in order to be considered for the role.

Biases can creep in at this first stage, and from then on they’re baked into the ad, and the recruitment process as a whole.

By being more objective about what a role requires, we can start to weed out words that have other connotations attached to them, and make our ad more friendly to others who might not

  • Businesses Only Look For Similar People

Many businesses will base their profile of the kind of person they’d like for the role on whoever had the role last. This often leads to very similar people being hired again and again, creating a chain of similarity which can be hard to break free from.

In technical businesses, hiring managers tend to only look for people with the same qualification or level of experience.

But by expanding the type of person you’re looking for, you can increase the number of background on a team, making it strong, more adaptable, with a range of ideas, opinions, and skillsets that you wouldn’t have otherwise.

  • Language Isn’t Examined

Across all areas of life, the language we use is often loaded with potentially biased or discriminatory language, whether we intend to use it or not. This is even true in recruitment, where the language we use can send the wrong message to certain groups of people who might be interested in applying, only to be discouraged by a certain word or phrase used in the job ad.

How We Can fight Gender Bias In Recruitment:

  • Be Critical Of The Language Used In Job Ads

It’s more important than ever to apply a critical eye over communications before they go out. Job ads should be scrutinised by a team before being put up anywhere, to make sure there aren’t any biases hiding within or between the lines.

Certain words have more masculine or feminine connotations, and while most words aren’t specifically gendered, they can send strong signals that certain roles are only for certain people. Recruiters drafting ads should keep this at the front of their minds, making sure to use neutral terms that keep the job open to anyone.

Increasing levels of diversity can help businesses grow, increase workplace satisfaction, and promote a better, more complete worldview for both the company and the individuals working within it.

This is something all businesses should be striving for, and recruitment has a vital role to play in making our workplaces more diverse.

Read more about gender bias being learned by AI, or learn how to reply to Linkedin adverts to get a job.

Topics: Thought Leadership