Biased Job Ads: Are You Driving Away Women Unintentionally?

April 4, 20171:05 pm403 views

‘We are looking for individuals with strong leadership skills to strive in the competitive market.’

At a glance, it might seem that nothing is wrong with the description above. While it is true that most employers use similar sentences in their job ads, you should be careful! You might have just driven away your potential women candidates.

Your choices of words for the job ads might affect the audience’s perception about the job. The problem is, you might have no idea about it.

Among others, words such as strong, competitive, analytical, assertive, and ambitious are widely-perceived as masculine biased phrasing. Including these words on your job ad will not help attract more women candidates, even if the job advertised is specifically for women.

Recent survey conducted by Zip Recruiter reveals a surprising finding that almost all industries show strong inclination towards using masculine action words. Male-biased job ads are prevalent across all industries, with 70 percent listings containing masculine phrasing. Within this percentage, business (94 percent), finance (92 percent), healthcare (92 percent), and insurance (91 percent) are only handful examples of industries that hold highest male bias in their job ads.

While in fact, when you remove male biased wordings and choose more gender-neutral phrasing, employers can attract candidates from wider talent pools. The same survey finds that job listings with neutral wording get 42 percent more responses. It is presented that job ads which use gendered wording only gain 12 responses, compared to 17.6 responses obtained by job ads that use gender-neutral wording.

Given this appalling statistics, it is critical for employers to recognise unconscious biased dictions in their job ads when they want to create a compelling job listings. Here’s how you can avoid biased phrasing in your job ads:

See: 10 Most Overused Recruitment Buzzwords that Puts off Best Talent

  1. Beware of the tone

Unlike oral dialogues where people can convey their expression directly, people might read your job ad with a different tone. To avoid any misinterpretation, you should be careful in building the tone of your job listings. Therefore, you should always use concise and clear language. If the ads are addressed to both men and women, it is important to ensure that the terms used are not gender specific.

  1. Use technology

Nowadays, there are services that offer technology to help you extinguish bias words from your postings. Services such as Unitive and Textio will help you conduct smarter recruitment process that eliminates bias inclination.

  1. Don’t exaggerate

To make your job ads more appealing, avoid repeating or emphasising particular terms. You should not exaggerate the words because it might promote bias toward particular groups.

  1. Review before posting

Before posting the job ads, you should implement review process to check if the ads have met the organisation standard. Make sure to get rid of any exclusive tone or structure and biased language. You should avoid using particular terms that can be misconstrued. For example, using words such as ‘strong and ambitious’ can be read as code for male, while ‘pleasant and friendly’ can be read as code for female.

When you want to reach out to broader pool of candidates and increase gender diversity in your workplace, first thing you should do is to take a good look at your job ads. Without you realising, biased phrasing in your job ads might be scaring away candidates.

The trick to avoid unconscious biased job ads is to re-frame your language pattern in the listings. It is time you move on to use gender-neutral keywords which contain less stereotypes towards a particular gender. Through this method, potential women talent will not be driven away from applying to work your organisation.

Read also: Shaping Global Recruitment Trends for the Future

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