Many organisations in Australia, particularly listed companies, are now focusing on gender equity at board and executive levels. A gender balanced organisation is not just an outcome by achieving gender ratios, as there is also a need for a process to develop a more strategic approach to achieve gender equity.
Recent research by Roy Morgan Research highlighted specific gender differences for buyers of packaged alcohol. Female buyers are placing more importance on the service of staff, whereas male buyers are more influenced by lower prices. The business implications are clear – females value service and males look for signs that advertise cheap beer.
In the world of recruitment, there is also a shift required to more gender smart recruitment advertising.
Changing your ads
Job advertisements on job boards would typically provide a brief paragraph with information about the company, followed by some description of the role, as well as some of the responsibilities attached to the vacant position. Some clues or filters would then be provided in terms of competencies that applicants should have, in order to be considered.
Despite the great advances we have made in technology, all that has happened today is that the same ads that used to be published in newspapers are now being replicated on job boards. As result, we have seen a massive increase in quantity, but quality has in fact deteriorated. Often ads would include some basic errors, and sometimes some grave ones.
Why Should I Apply?
These job ads are usually doing a reasonable job of providing limited information about the job, but usually fail to encourage the job seeker, particularly the passive job seeker that may just glance at an ad, that the recruiting company is offering a real career.
Often in job ads there is a discrepancy between what recruiting companies say and what they have done. This perception difference between external perception and internal reality is the driver for employer branding initiatives.
Lack of awareness
There is still a major lack of understanding or awareness of how job advertisements are demonstrating that the organisation was attractive to women and in what way. Recruiters would expect applicants to access the company’s web site, but not be thinking about how the organisation appears to women, when the board and executive team photo’s clearly highlights the lack of senior women leaders.
As an aside, there is ample opportunity with hyper links, to facilitate and influence this search process by directing prospective applicants to relevant information on the company’s web site.
Adapting the recruitment process
Gender balanced organisations have adapted their recruitment approach to include those themes that are the most likely to be of strong interest to women, focusing on flexibility, the culture, collaboration, and opportunities for development.
There needs to be an alignment and consistency of what the recruiting company is saying and what it is doing. Progressive organisations will always ensure that there is a person that applicants can talk to and discuss the role and potential opportunities in more detail, rather than directing applicants through the applicant tracking system, without any conversation.
Perhaps an example will better illustrate my point. Real estate agents have been very effective with advertising houses, using pictures and being able to tell a story. Now I am not suggesting that recruiters should apply the same creative license, but one thing real estate agents are doing well is to convince buyers that they are selling a home, not just a house.
This was really well illustrated by the popular Australian movie – The Castle. In this movie, the Kerrigan family is threatened by the compulsory acquisition of their family home, which is not just a house, but in their eyes – their castle filled with memories that can’t be replaced.
Telling a story
Writing a good job ad takes time, particularly we make the transition. Working with a HR team recently, we devoted half a day to finalise the ad for a role that was really difficult to fill. Every job advertisement should tell a story. It takes more than just a picture of a female (as the photo above, which may be too youthful).
Rather than using words such as challenge, drive, determination and results it may be more effective to use language such as opportunities, engage, contribution, partnership, team, relationships and outcomes. This is not about being politically correct, but to be more aware of the subtle messages we communicate to applicants.
A recent ad used some very effective descriptions:
- Make you feel like coming home
- Comfortable with relationship management
- Using your charms to influence outcomes
- Flair for effective leadership
Language is very powerful and unconscious bias may impact negatively on our ability to attract talented staff, particularly if a company is trying to attract and encourage more females to apply for certain roles. Gender smart organisations are aligning their HR systems and processes to achieve a better balance in talent management.
If you have any comments, ideas or suggestions please share your views.
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