6 ways Disruptive Recruitment Can Drive Gender Balance in Tech

UNLEASHDiversity Inclusion2015 10 25
6 ways Disruptive Recruitment Can Drive Gender Balance in Tech
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This is a Guest post by Dorothy Dalton via LinkedIn Pulse.

I’m excited to be prepping for HRTech World Congress in Paris next week as part of the Blog Squad. It promises to be an amazing event with keynote speakers including Sir Richard Branson. Keeping in touch with the latest trends is fascinating, especially those that give those insights and perspectives needed to meet the challenge of technology, see where it’s all going, and what it means for the future of  work.

Disruption in HR via technology is of course great. But unless it is combined with a disruption to user thinking, we are going to see little progress, despite all the latest systems, gizmos, apps and zany buzz words.

Diversity and disruptive recruitment

In the DisruptHR segment there is one break out session only, run by Sandrine Cina CEO and Founder of Includeed on Diversity Intelligence at the Core of Business  – I will definitely be attending that.  In her blurb she says  “Today, 90% of the world’s largest companies communicate about diversity, while in fact only 40% have diversity impact metrics and only 8% are able to measure the ROI of their diversity efforts.” 

She then goes on to cite an implementation gap to attract the top and best talent.

Gender balance has to be a key element of that disconnect. How can that gap be closed?

 1. Fish where there are fish

There is much discussion about the lack of women in the tech talent pipeline and how at a critical age, they are discouraged from thinking about STEM subjects, going on to focus on softer courses, make-up and prom dresses.  It’s going to take many generations to create a more gender balanced wider culture,   and to develop a greater awareness of our unconscious biases. In the meantime there is still a problem which needs addressing.

But why wait?

Instead of waiting for graduate level female candidates to apply for jobs, while bemoaning low volumes of candidates and the subsequent lack of choice, HR should go into schools and fish where there are fish, to quote a 3Plus colleague Sapna Welsh.  They should look for female talent where it is to be found, which is not in maths and science classes. However, this does not mean to say these girls are not numerate, or don’t have the necessary abilities to succeed in tech subjects and the sector.

At  a recent  European Women’s Leadership Conference for MasterCard, one participant, who I sadly can’t credit, proposed running numeracy tests in Middle Schools in non – STEM classes. This is not too far removed from what I was doing many years ago, when I ran trainee intakes for 16 and 18 year olds in addition to graduate entry recruitment.

Offering university sponsorships and other incentives to engage female students, combined with work experience, is a route worth pursuing. With the cost of university education escalating in many economies and student debt being a massive issue for younger generations, this should be an attractive option.

2. A golden hello

I’ve been party to many discussion about what happens if organisations invest in this hiring track and the potential  financial exposure if it isn’t followed through.

Heaven forbid, after all this, if these girls go off into Marcoms, Events or H.R.

To an impoverished new graduate a good starting salary, a signing bonus and other golden hello perks (clothes allowance, car loan, travel discounts  – it doesn’t matter) with a commitment to stay say 3 years, could be enough to seal the deal. New college hires remain in their first job less than a year anyway, according to recent research, so retention and buy-in should be relatively easy to achieve.

3. Create “Gender Bi-lingual” adverts

This is a sound bite used by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox to make adverts more appealing to women to avoid discounting 50% of the workforce. Raised to subliminally decipher the sub-text of specific words in gender based ways, we are all mainly unaware of the subtle language differences we use that send a gender coded message. “Bossy” is used to describe women, as identified in the Sheryl Sandberg campaign. “Pretty” is rarely be used to describe a man in a positive sense.

Research has shown that a few chosen words can improve inclusivity and impact the gender split of applicants. This was referenced by Isaac Pinnock Co-Founder of Made by Many. In his post Isaac outlines that he replaced the phrases “unreasonably talented, and driven, senior designer”  and “…fearlessly champion” with “senior interaction designer who is deeply excited by the opportunity of creating thoughtful digital products that have lasting impact.” 

This resulted in an increase in female applicants by 20%

4.Test your adverts

There is also Kat Matfield’s great tool for de-coding gender bias in adverts. Why don’t you run your next advert through it? Male coded words such as independent, assertive, determined, decisive can be set against female coded words; collaborative, cooperative, inter-personal, empathy, honest.

My last advert for an M.D. role in heavy industry, came out as male orientated, so I have work to do.

5. Returnships

Offer women who have the appropriate levels of numeracy, the possibility to return after parenting or other gaps.  Many people identify skills or want to change career later. The notion of a career for life has gone and ongoing learning in the new norm. Tapping into this demographic could be a strong option.

 6. Manage Unconscious Bias in Recruitment

We can never eliminate unconscious bias, but if organisations at least make some attempt to manage it that would be a step forward. Unconscious bias training should be mandatory for all  recruiters.

What would you add to disrupt recruitment thinking for women in Tech?


3887437Dorothy Dalton is an international talent management strategist, working on both ends of the spectrum on executive search and career transition coaching from “hire to retire.” She is CEO of 3Plus International which provides career and leadership coaching programmes for professional women and companies who believe in them and want gender balance. Please connect on LinkedIn and Twitter @DorothyDalton. She is part of the Blog Squad at HRTechWorld Paris

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