Unless you’ve been living on Mars, you’ll be aware that gender bias is a hot topic right now. Equality in the workplace is under greater scrutiny than ever before, industry-wide. The spotlight is shining on businesses to change how they recognise gender and to improve opportunities – for everybody.
After attending a recent seminar on diversity and inclusivity, we started to think more deeply about implicit gender bias within the recruitment process. Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that unintentionally and unconsciously affect our understanding, actions, and day to day decisions.
With implicit bias, the person making the decision may not even realise that they are discriminating. These internal decisions can often be hard-wired and acquired during the nurturing years (childhood and adolescence), through education or via cultural exposure.
Nevertheless, these unconscious values can affect the way hiring managers recruit. Deloitte’s research into the subject is fascinating. For example, they describe how certain commonplace hiring practices, such as unstructured interviews or gendered job descriptions, can lead to unequal employment of women.
This issue stretches way beyond gender, though. Implicit bias can present itself in any matter of discrimination – age, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, ethnicity – the list goes on. After all, recruitment is intrinsically about discrimination; people are judged and chosen on a set of criteria – some legal, some not.
However, in a time where businesses are crying out for a quality selection of candidates, why would we limit ourselves?
Even though implicit bias isn’t intentional, as recruiters we can train ourselves to think more widely and to be more inclusive. The Deloitte research goes on to describe one way this can be tackled, using ‘design thinking’. This concept allows you to explore the implicit biases in play, the impact of these biases on the recipients, and to think through solutions to reduce bias; evaluating and ultimately refining the solutions.
Smaller, non-corporate organisations who lack the time and resource to spend on design thinking can still make positive changes to improve their approach to inclusivity when hiring and in the workplace generally. Here are a few tips:
• Use gender neutral language such as “they” rather than “he” or “she”
• Think twice before using words such as “guys” when addressing an office which includes other genders
• Include a wide range of people at your expos and recruitment events to lead by example and show the world your company is pro-diversity
• Consider what personal information you ask for on job applications – and why you’re asking for it
• Don’t ask for previous salaries at interview – this has been cited as one reason the gender pay gap is still so large
• Offer flexible working and parental leave to everyone – we all have children, parents, pets, and other responsibilities outside work – and not just female staff
• Get valuable insight from exit interviews to see why people are leaving, and use it to refine an inclusive approach to recruiting and managing staff where relevant
According to the Deloitte research, there has been a 45% increase in the number of women playing in America’s 250 top orchestras since they introduced blind auditions. Organisers even asked the musicians to remove their footwear to avoid any assumed gender by the sound of their footsteps on the stage.
So, don’t allow labels to get in the way of attracting, recruiting and retaining prime talent that can help your business grow and thrive. When you meet, hire and manage staff, simply see the person they are and their worth to your organisation. Embracing diversity and inclusivity will improve your company’s image and make your business a place everybody wants to work, and work with.
For expert help with finding top talent to fill jobs in Basingstoke, contact Wote Street People on 01256 99127 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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