How to make your business a people magnet

You often hear people saying things like, ‘I would love to work for that organisation’ or, ‘I can’t see myself working at that company’. This is because different businesses attract or repel different kinds of people. But what makes an organisation attractive or unattractive to diverse candidates? It’s an important question.

During times of uncertainty and ambiguity, we tend to resort to the ‘tried and tested’ method. Our preference is very much to go with who and what we know and organisations can revert to recruiting for much more homogeneity around them. This has a detrimental effect on the progress we’ve made in diversity and inclusion. We’ve seen this happen over the past 50 years – economic activity for minority groups decreases following recessions.

One job, two descriptions

So, how do you find a diverse group of talented employees in the attraction stage? We first look at the language you use in your job descriptions. Unfortunately, the language you use can introduce bias at the very start of the employee life cycle. Different recruiters can present one job in two very different ways. For example, our research shows that a phrase like ‘looking for exceptional individuals’ is more likely to attract male candidates, and discourage females ones.

More explicitly, certain words exhibit specific gender connotations. For instance, the word ‘gravitas’ rarely conjures up an image of a woman. This issue can pose problems for two parties. The pool of candidates wanting to apply shrinks and the selectors recruiting for that position will be biased towards a male candidate.

Additionally, research shows us that the language used in job descriptions can impact upon candidates further down the line. In performance reviews, for example, men receive higher ratings for jobs defined in masculine terms (such as planning and executing projects) and women receive higher ratings for jobs defined in feminine terms (such as team building and communication).

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