You might have heard a lot about the gender pay gap, but it is not the only gap that exists in the workplace. There is another gap that is nearly as important, though much less discussed: the network gap.
According to a LinkedIn survey, a weaker network means less access to job opportunities. It also means companies might be missing some of the best candidates. Those who have the right skills, but lack the right connections. Network gaps is one that disproportionately holds back women to advance their career.
LinkedIn wrote that women in the U.S. are 28 percent less likely than men to have a strong network. This gender network gap holds true across virtually every country with 14 percent to 38 percent women globally having less likely a strong networking in both large and diverse organisations.
See also: Reasons Why You Should Have Woman Club in Your Company
While much attention has been paid to the gender pay gap, what can recruiters and hiring managers do about the gender network gap? Here are three tips to address the issue:
Don’t rely too much on referral programs
Referrals might be one of the most popular recruiting tactics as they are completely based on people’s personal networks. However, LinkedIn found that women are 26 percent less likely than men to ask for a referral. Therefore, personal referrals might disproportionately surface men over women.
To increase diverse referrals, hiring managers and HR teams can come up with ideas, such as challenging employees to hit specific diversity goals, offering bigger incentives, or holding special recruiting events organised by one of the company’s employee resource groups.
Gendered job descriptions
Word matters, language matters, especially in job descriptions and job posts.
Using gendered language can dissuade talents from applying. For instance, women are more likely to be discouraged by the word “aggressive” which can be perceived as masculine. When asking for promotion, women might also feel discouraged to apply or refer to their women co-workers. Hence, always remember that an overly masculine job description could unconsciously nudge employees and candidates to think of male friends and co-workers.
Writing gendered job description: key items to consider
- Catch yourself (and others) if you find that you are using shortcuts to make quick decisions about whether a “type” of person would or would not fit a role.
- Be careful to avoid letting one or two historical examples of candidates from a specific background form the basis for evaluating all others.
- Consider “widening the net” and pay extra attention to examples and data from a variety of schools, especially schools that you don’t historically or typically recruit from.
- Check job descriptions for gender-biased terminology that might discourage women from applying.
- When you find evidence of success with preferred sources, intentionally look for examples of where those sources might have also disappointed.
- Ask colleagues from underrepresented groups to help you identify potential weaknesses in current recruiting and hiring strategies.
- Review your job descriptions. Are job descriptions excluding some groups that could be perfectly qualified?
- Take another look at the ‘must haves’ (requirements) vs. the ‘nice to haves’ (preferences). For example, do you really have to have 10 years of experience in X, a degree from a specific set of schools, a Master’s or a PhD, or all-hours and/or weekend availability (which might automatically screen out many people)?
- Examine the specific words that are used. Some job postings, particularly in maledominated fields, are sometimes inadvertently written with male pronouns, or suggest hypermasculine behaviour (problem-fixer, competitive, dominate, ‘Type-A’) is required or rewarded, potentially signaling that women need not apply.
- Leverage technology to audit your job descriptions for potentially biased language.
Tools to consider
There is a wide array of technology, tools, and resources available to reduce hiring bias and create natural job descriptions. Just a few are highlighted below:
- Textio – suggests alternative, more inclusive words for job descriptions
- SeekOut – targets diverse passive candidates proactively, offers blid hiring mode and demographic search filters to target diverse candidates
- Applied – suggests more inclusive words for job descriptions, anonymise and remove identifying information from candidates profile
- Gender Decoder – identifies gender biased language in job description – free online tool
- Greenhouse – offers D&I nudges to remind recruiters of bias-reducing behaviours, offers option to anonymise candidate profiles
- TapRecruit – uses advance language analysis and data science to write job description that attract more qualified and diverse talent pools
- Ongig – helps companies create more engaging and effective job posts
Read also: Laws to Protect Women’s Rights in the Workplace