“I can’t find enough women for lead generation positions,” Danielle, the recruiter responsible for sales for her tech company, told me.
“We are dedicated to diversity, but no matter how hard I look I can’t find enough qualified female applicants.”
Danielle was afraid she would have to change the responsibility and scope of the role to attract more women. The change would be expensive, risky and she wasn’t sure that the modified role would be nearly as valuable for corporate success.
After asking a few more questions I learned that not only was the lead generation role well defined with reasonable goals, lots of support, and a competitive compensation package, Danielle’s company also had a great training program, inclusive benefits, a strong, inclusive culture, and plenty of internal mobility opportunities.
In short, the role was not the problem, it was how it was being sold.
Calling for Rockstars - the gender gap pitfall
Danielle’s job description had all the necessary parts. It described the job, the culture, and the compensation package. It touted the company and its mission and was overflowing with the energy that they wanted for the role. There was just one problem – all that energy was focused on hiring someone who was a ‘Rockstar’.
Rockstars, A-players, go-getters, and similar terminology all means the same thing, namely, someone who is at the top of their profession, and performs better than anyone else.
The problem with this type of language, especially for roles that can be entry level (where there is no work history to prove ‘stardom’), is that it requires applicants to self-identify as the best.
What’s wrong with that? The gender gap.
Independent of actual ability, men tend to give themselves more credit for the skills they have whereas women tend to give themselves less credit, according to a study by the Harvard Business Review and Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
In other words, when job descriptions imply that only the best need apply, more men will feel comfortable doing so than women independent of their actual skill.
Luckily, the fix was easy, and it didn’t require a dime.
One small step for an organization, one giant leap for diversity
Rather than stressing being great, I suggested that Danielle shift the language of the job description to creating greatness. Stress the training program, mentorship, and the competitive yet supportive environment. The end result is the same, high-energy individuals with a knack and love for lead-generation but rather than the pressures of identifying day one masters of the job, you provide them the tools to become masters.
Danielle tried it.
A few weeks later I checked in with her and she happily reported that two of her last four hires were women, and all it cost her was a few minutes to edit the job description.
Danielle’s story does beg the question - what potential opportunities are lurking in your descriptions, sourcing, or hiring practices that could greatly increase inclusion?
Small steps can create giant changes, and we can help. At career.place, we strive to make every conversation valuable and impactful for diversity and inclusion. Whether through the career.place candidate screening solution or just sharing tips to help a job description, we are here to help remove bias one hire at a time.