Diversity & Inclusion, Recruiting

Why Women Aren’t Applying to Your Job Posts

Does your organization struggle with achieving a relatively normal gender balance in the workplace? If you’re trying to recruit in a way that will attract women to the workforce but aren’t having the results you expected, there may be a few more things you can try to achieve a more balanced result.women

Here are some considerations:

  • Words matter. A job post’s word choice matters a lot. Avoid using words that are typically associated with masculine traits like “aggressive” or “analytical” when you could use words like “responsible” or others that have less of a masculine or feminine connotation.
  • Job posts should not over-inflate requirements. Many organizations create a list of candidate requirements that is more of a wish list than a true requirement list. The problem is that men are more likely to apply for a job if they meet only a majority of the requirements, while women are more likely to apply only if they meet all of the requirements. If you’re willing to hire someone who doesn’t meet some of the requirements, don’t list those items! That way, you’ll be more likely to get applicants who are actually qualified but would have hesitated if the list were inflated.
  • How the employer is portrayed online matters. Do most of your photos show more men than women? Are the quotes in your articles or blog posts primarily from men in the organization? These kinds of issues may make the workplace appear to be more male-dominated than it is, which could make some would-be applicants fear they won’t have positive career progression at your organization—even if that’s not necessarily true.
  • Workplace culture matters. Do social media posts portray a culture that is extremely competitive or focused on working nights and weekends? While some women will be happy with this norm, for others, it may be a sign that the workplace is focused on things that are not compatible with their goals.
  • Along with the last two points, how the organization communicates about itself matters—even when that communication is customer-facing. If the organization appears to be sexist or otherwise discriminatory or difficult, it may face a scarcity of women applicants. This applies to all types of communications—even sales communications.
  • Benefits matter. Consider offering benefits that are especially helpful for working parents. Starting a family is one reason many women choose to opt out of full-time work—it’s quite difficult to find a career with the flexibility to meet the demands of raising a family while simultaneously climbing the career ladder. By offering benefits that address this issue, it could enable many women to reenter or stay in the workplace longer. Examples include the ability to work remotely, flexible working hours, on-site child care or childcare discounts, good health insurance with family coverage options, etc. Naturally, many of these benefits can be enjoyed by those with and without children, so they can help with retention overall.
  • How women are portrayed in company materials matters. Are women portrayed equally to men in leading roles, or are they shown in supporting roles? Are women shown in poses that are more suggestive in nature? What clothes are the women wearing in company materials? If women are presented in ways that imply they’re less active in leading the organization, it may cause women interested in the organization to look elsewhere.
  • Organizational support matters. Does your organizational culture support promoting women into top roles? How balanced is the leadership team? Although this takes time to change, it will impact jobseekers’ perception when viewing the company.

What other steps has your organization taken to increase the number of women applying to jobs or applying for promotions?

Bridget Miller is a business consultant with a specialized MBA in International Economics and Management, which provides a unique perspective on business challenges. She’s been working in the corporate world for over 15 years, with experience across multiple diverse departments including HR, sales, marketing, IT, commercial development, and training.

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