A very smart lady and long-time industry influencer wrote an article recently about Gender Diversity in job advertisements – thanks @denegambotto - and I wanted to share this important message.
There is a lot of talk about Gender Diversity at the moment as we know, and a lot of heated debates across offices, events and dinner tables about peoples’ perceptions of the reality and roadblocks around the state of gender diversity in our industry, or any industry.
What I've noticed is that often the problem is that you don’t know what you don’t know.
If you’ve never experienced a lack of diversity, perceived or real, personally or within the team(s) around you; and/or no-one’s ever pointed out the potential pitfalls and opportunities that exist, or examples of awareness of self and others' behaviours and treatment - how would you know? And if you don’t know what you’re looking for, how can you see it?
A senior agency guy recently called me into their offices to talk about diversity at their agency. A strong diversity advocate, I have huge respect for the work he’s trying to do but – as I often hear – the problem was that he wanted to employ more women, but ‘… they just don’t apply for the roles so we have to choose the best ‘man’ for the job.’
We had a conversation about the market, the approach and the culture of the agency…and then I went online.
Let’s be honest, the first place anyone is going to go when they’re researching a job is your website. Maybe they’ll jump on Glassdoor. And if they have any sense they’ll see who else they know who can tell them more about you.
So, as I say, I went online to look at the job ad.
Now this isn’t verbatim and they’ve changed it since, but this is what I saw.
Lots of pictures of young, professional guys. They looked smart, approachable…ambitious and hungry. Almost every image was, if not actually a male person, then very masculine.
The job ad then went on to talk about how everyone is ambitious, hungry for success. They socialise together and often work long hours and weekends, but that’s okay because they work hard and play hard.
Now ambition and success are not things women shy away from, but these words with a masculine tone of voice, surrounded by pictures of hipster men isn’t a particularly female-focussed approach.
Most people are up for hard work and ‘overtime’ is just part of the job in creative industries, but if they’re proud of this way of working so much that they shout about it on the website, anyone looking for balance will start to think twice.
Honestly by this point, you will have lost a lot of women, especially those over 30, and anyone with kids is a no-show.
Not because they’re afraid of hard work and ambition, but more because if it’s this ‘blokey’ online, what will it be like in the office??
A strategist in the UK (@KatMatfield) was inspired by a research paper* to develop a simple tool that does a quick check on whether a job advert has the kind of subtle linguistic gender-coding that has this discouraging effect.
Their results showed that women felt that job adverts with masculine-coded language were less appealing and that they belonged less in those occupations. For men, feminine-coded adverts were only slightly less appealing and there was no effect on how much the men felt they belonged in those roles.
Obviously there are a lot of other factors involved such as the visuals around the ad and the site itself etc.
Actually, have a look for me now - what does your ‘career’ page look like?
I’d argue it’s potentially the most important page if you want to engage the best of future talent?
Saying ‘There’s no talent out there’ is a lazy approach. If the people you want are not applying, you need to look inwards first.
There is SO much great talent out there; you just need to know where to look and what to say.
*This tool was inspired by a research paper written by Danielle Gaucher, Justin Friesen, and Aaron C. Kay back in 2011, called Evidence That Gendered Wording in Job Advertisements Exists and Sustains Gender Inequality (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, July 2011, Vol 101(1), p109-28).