March 11, 2022
Daniel Fellows

Last week saw the world commemorate International Women’s Day – a global event celebrating women’s achievements (from the political to the economic, and the social) while shining the spotlight on the individual and collective biases against women that fuel gender inequality.

“Whether deliberate or unconscious, the bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead,” said the International Women’s Day website.

“Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough, action is needed to level the playing field.

“Are you in? Will you actively call out gender bias, discrimination and stereotyping each time you see it?”

This year’s theme, #BreakTheBias, encouraged the world to call out instances of bias against women – be it at home, in the workplace or even in the recruiting process.

As the leading diversity & inclusion Job Ad optimisation platform, we have been banging the drum for inclusive Job Ads that reduce gender bias ever since our inception in 2019.

For nearly 50 years now, Job Ads haven’t been allowed to advertise specifically for men or women or use pronouns (he/she etc).

Nonetheless, gender preferences are still being conveyed through attributes or characteristics stereotypes typically associated with certain genders.

Case in point? Words such as ‘strong’, ‘competitive’, ‘dominant’, ‘aggressive’ or ‘leader’ are associated with male stereotypes.

Conversely words like ‘support’, ‘interpersonal’, ‘understand’, ‘warm’, ‘team’ and interpersonal are associated with female stereotypes.

If you write a job application and describe what you’re looking for as an ‘assertive leader,’ that language is going to disproportionately draw men and limit your pool of applicants – thereby ensuring that you help maintain gender inequality.

In many cases, employers, recruiters and TA folk may not even be aware that biases have crept into their Job Ads – chances are they are simply cutting-and-pasting job descriptions, from one Ad to the next.

However, there’s no getting away from the fact that gender bias in Job Ads, unintentional or not, inadvertently discourages women from throwing their hat into the ring. Make no mistake: words matter.

Luckily, for any recruiters reading this week’s blog and wanting to take positive steps to support gender diversity – be it in your business or a client’s company – there are ways to avoid Job Ad bias and improve diversity throughout the hiring process.

Here at Get-Optimal HQ, we reduce bias across all ‘Protected Characteristics’ as part of our core product. A gimmicky gender decoder isn’t sufficient or the correct approach.

However, it’s not just words we need to be aware of – it’s also the structure. The amount of bullet points that appear in your Job Ad affects the proportion of women and men in your applicant pool.

Factor in too many bulleted lists and you’ll see a fall in the number of women applying for the vacancy. On the other hand, if you fail to feature enough bullet points, men will be deterred from hitting ‘apply’.

Why does all this matter? Because a diverse workforce results in more creative and innovative ideas which can boost a company's profitability.

According to research carried out by McKinsey & Company, organisations with diverse executive teams are 33 per cent more likely to outperform their peers.

All told, if you want to recruit a diverse workforce you need to pay careful attention to the language used in your Job Ads.

By recognising and reducing gendered language that detracts women from applying, companies can take that important first step to attract a more gender-diverse workforce.

Ready to make a real and lasting DE&I impact and write and post Job Ads that reduce gender bias? It’s time to reach out to Optimal.

We specialise in reducing all kinds of bias, including gender bias, in addition to optimising your Job Ads for SEO.

Working and collaborating with Get-Optimal is about taking control, not giving up control. Make the change and make the change today. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Daniel Fellows


*Image courtesy of Unplash