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Changing recruitment or policies- what comes first?

Improving flexible working policies is a necessary step to ensure gender equality and greater diversity in the workplace- but what if recruitment is really the overlooked tool to bring more women in the workplace?

The American software company Textio uses artificial intelligence to pore over job descriptions in real time, highlighting any terms that could come across as particularly masculine or feminine. The software then suggests alternatives. As it turns out, specific wording used in job adverts can have a massive impact on the number of women applying for a job- and the women being turned away from it. For example, women are more likely to apply for a job where the responsibility is to “develop” a team, rather than “manage” it. The word “stakeholder” suggests to candidates of colour that they might not be appreciated. Textio is quick to state that they don’t analyze the data beyond these results; they don’t know why it works, they just know it does.

These small changes might seem like an overstatement of importance of form over substance; but the results are clear. When Australian software giant Atlassian used Textio's software for its job-ad copy, it saw an 80% increase in the hiring of women in technical roles globally over a two-year period.

Job descriptions are not the only tool available to improve diversity in recruitment. Recently, the insurance company GoCompare has announced that it is going to be introducing blind CVs in a bid to attract more female staff and improve their gender pay gap stats. Resumes will be stripped of info irrelevant to the job in question, like date of birth or name. The idea is that anonymous CVs could be a secret weapon not just to get more women into the workplace, but to combat unconscious bias.

Recruiting flexibly with tools such as the Happy To Talk strapline is just another way to widen and diversify the talent pool of candidates. More companies around the world are adopting flexible working policies each year. In the UK, the right to request flexible working starts after six months of employment with an organisation; meaning that some companies have excellent policies for those who are currently working, but not for perspective candidates.

Recruitment policies are just as important as internal policies, and should be prioritized for the wellbeing of employees- current and future.


by Anna Viceconti

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