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International Women's Day 2022 - Gender Neutral Recruitment

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It’s been said time and time again that the pen is mightier than the sword. There’s power in language, in vocabulary and the way we string these words together to communicate. Wherever we go, whatever we do, communication has always been key in every facet of our lives. We share these experiences across the globe, no matter what language we speak.

Sticks and stones might break bones, but did you know that the way words are used can really influence whether a woman applies for a role? A research paper written in 2011, Evidence That Gendered Wording in Job Advertisements Exists and Sustains Gender Inequality” explored how gender-coded language in a job advert affected the participants, and whether they felt like they belonged in the occupations.

It may shock you to find out that women who saw job adverts with masculine coded language – e.g., assertive, ambitious, self-sufficient – felt much less like they belonged in those roles and were less likely to apply. Comparatively for men, feminine coded adverts – ones with words such as dependable, compassionate, understanding – were only slightly less appealing.

The implications of the study certainly gives us food for thought. Diversity and Inclusion is often at the forefront of employers’ minds in 2022, yet something as simple as the language we use is sustaining gender inequality. Are job ads accidentally creating situations where women don’t feel comfortable applying? LinkedIn’s own research on gender equality suggests women screen themselves out of potential job opportunities, especially when they don’t believe they meet all the requirements.

We want to #BreakTheBias in recruitment, so we’re speaking out on how we can increase gender equality in the workplace. This International Women’s Day, we’re asking everyone to check their job adverts for gendered language with the Gender Decoder tool.

For more insights on how you can improve Diversity & Inclusion within your business, you might like our Diversity Champions podcasts lead by Director of Public Sector and Not-For-Profit, Nici Jones.

We are incredibly proud to have a diverse workforce across Yolk and are pledged to ensure our workforce reflects the diversity in the Welsh population where our HQ and majority of staff are based.