Today is the day. You no longer have an excuse for not hiring women. A LinkedIn post from a CEO of a well-known investment firm actually had me almost losing it today. And now it’s time to do something.
The debates about gender equality, about diversity in organizations, about inclusion in the workplace, they often become just that. Debates. What is not happening, is people making a change. How do you expect the result to be different, without changing your approach?
I am hereby offering my services to help businesses hire more women. I have absolutely no education in this, except for a course I did in 2015 (although it was one hell of a course) at a time when I thought unconscious biases and stereotype threat were concepts we were aware of. But I still seem to know more than you. Unfortunately. Now, two years later, people still claim they put “competence before gender” without realizing that competence is as subjective of a measurement as knowledge and cultural fit.
I’m not saying it’s easy, but I’m saying it’s important. It’s important for you, not just because of what research shows; that more diverse teams are more creative, innovative and generate higher profits. But it’s important for the women around you, for your daughters and their chance at making it, just like you’ve had the privilege of doing.
Because research also shows that diversity programs only work when there’s support from the top. Your management should care and your board should be the leading example.
If you want to start somewhere:
- Have a woman outside your network read your job ad. Or like Hampus Jakobsson mentions in his great article on the same topic: run it through a gender filter. It’s common that we use language that is unconsciously male-coded (for example, the use of rock star or ninja) and this limits your pool of potential candidates.
- Remove all references to “he” in your texts (yes, they are still there). “They” is a perfectly good word to replace with.
- Recruit outside of your network. Research shows that men are more likely to have men in their networks and that especially for more senior positions, we usually hire from our networks. How do you hire outside your network? You go outside of your comfort zone. Find new places to post your ad, make new friends, have lunch with people you’d never think of lunching with and call dormant ties. Research shows that recommendations from dormant ties have a higher probability of being valuable compared to recommendations from people close to us.
- Make sure the roster is balanced. You’ll never get a balanced short-list if your original list of potential candidates wasn’t. If the supply of people in the industry (graduates in the your field is a good benchmark) has a gender split of 50/50, so should your roster have.
- Control for unconscious biases in your interview process. You can do that today by a) having someone remove all names and indicators of gender or other diversity indicators from resumés and cover letters, and by b) having a third person deciding the finale candidate from what interviewers tell them about the potential hires.
And most importantly, once you get some women into the company, make sure you keep hiring women, and make sure you can keep them. Give them the same opportunities to informal chit-chat, feedback sessions, and salary discussions. Research shows that even for internal promotions, men are more likely to be considered since they have a “connection” to the, most often male, executives. This “connection” is based on homogeneity. The more similar a potential hire is to you, the more likely you are to like them. Use set KPIs and other measurable criteria, that your whole organization understands, as your foundation for promotions.
If these things don’t work, please let me know. I’ll be on a call with you within a few hours to tell you what you can do differently based on your situation. All you have to do is something.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org at any time.
*Please note: My focus is on gender since this is what I know. These are my personal recommendations and I’m sure there are things I didn’t include, but I find these most important. If you have suggestions of how to work for a more inclusive environment please comment them below, and I’ll make sure to include them, and you, in a compilation. If you want to help spread the word or the knowledge, please, please get in touch.*