In today’s business world, inclusivity is more than a value—it’s an essential part of a sound business strategy.
A recent McKinsey and Company report shows that companies that build diverse executive teams by focusing on gender inclusivity are 25% more likely to outperform those that don’t financially. For those that build ethnically diverse teams, the likelihood rises to 36%.
More importantly, the McKinsey report shows that inclusivity becomes more impactful for businesses with each passing year. In other words, organizations that don’t take the steps necessary to build a diverse workforce will fall further and further behind.
To build diverse teams, organizations must begin with inclusive recruiting strategies. For businesses in 2023, those strategies need to include components that address the evolving gender landscape.
Understanding Gender Inclusivity in 2023
Traditionally, gender was viewed as a binary classification. It was either male or female. Businesses considered gender-inclusive were those that provided equal opportunities for both sexes.
Modern gender classifications are more nuanced. Our gender vocabulary now includes terms such as cisgender, transgender, nonbinary, gender fluid, and gender nonconforming. To be truly inclusive, recruiting strategies must be compatible with this new landscape.
As with any new business initiative, clear communication is a critical component of establishing a gender-inclusive recruiting strategy. This starts with internal communication. All employees must understand that the organization values diversity and inclusion.
Promoting gender inclusion in the workplace may require ongoing education and training. Gender identity is a complex and evolving issue. It’s also an issue with political overtones, which means employees may need help understanding how to communicate about the topic with sensitivity and respect.
Outward-facing communications also must be updated to promote inclusivity. Job postings should use neutral and inclusive language and focus on the skills and qualifications required for the position. Gendered language and biased requirements should be removed.
Potential recruits who value inclusivity will likely look beyond an organization’s job posting to brand communication as they assess its commitment to inclusivity. As companies embrace inclusivity and diversity, they should promote it in all outward-facing communications.
Featuring gender inclusivity on the organization’s website, especially on its “careers” or “values” pages, is important. Addressing inclusivity in social messaging is also important. Those in leadership who support inclusivity can communicate their position by adding their pronouns to their LinkedIn profiles and e-mail signatures.
Businesses can also boost inclusion in their recruitment efforts by looking beyond traditional channels. The growing need for inclusion has led to the creation of organizations that specialize in promoting employment opportunities to underrepresented groups. Posting to the sites managed by those groups can ensure job opportunities reach a more diverse audience.
Networking with organizations focused on supporting underrepresented groups is another way to connect with a more diverse talent pool. Organizations that sponsor employee resource groups focused on diversity and inclusion may find that members of those groups can provide referrals that further diversity goals.
Identifying bias in the recruiting process is another key step organizations must take to develop gender-inclusive processes. Biases that favor one gender over another can cause managers to overlook the most talented applicants and discourage qualified applicants from applying.
As mentioned above, language is an integral part of a gender-inclusive strategy. This includes not only language that explicitly identifies gender but also language associated with a certain gender. For example, using words like “dominant,” “aggressive,” or “ambitious” has been found to attract applicants who identify with masculine roles while repelling those who identify with feminine roles.
Those involved in the recruiting process may need to be trained to identify and avoid bias. They should be aware of how bias can affect the résumé screening process, as well as the interviewing process. Establishing clear evaluation criteria and using structured scoring systems can help ensure applicants are assessed fairly and that unbiased comparisons can be made.
When interviews are conducted by a panel, organizations should make sure the panel is also diverse. This ensures multiple perspectives will be considered before a final hiring decision is made. It also communicates to applicants that the organization values diversity and inclusion.
As the gender identity landscape continues to evolve, organizations must be committed to adjusting their inclusivity efforts on an ongoing basis. Goals should be set, data should be collected, metrics goals should be implemented, and effectiveness should be evaluated. When efforts fall short, members of leadership should communicate openly and transparently about how they plan to improve.
The overarching goal of a gender-inclusive recruiting process is to ensure every applicant, regardless of gender identity, feels respected and welcomed to apply. Organizations that take the necessary steps to put such a system in place will realize many benefits, not the least of which is gaining access to a broader talent pool.
Organizations that authentically embrace gender inclusivity will also benefit from a more diverse workforce, one where innovation and impactful collaboration are the norm. This can only be accomplished, however, with a strong commitment from organizational leadership. Leaders and managers must foster gender inclusivity by modeling the value in their own actions and decision-making processes.
—Brianna Rooney is a serial entrepreneur and powerhouse in recruiting. She’s the founder and CEO of TalentPerch, Thriversity, The Millionaire Recruiter & YouTube channel, and Techees. Her exhilarating passion, strategic vision, and commitment to excellence have propelled her businesses to unparalleled heights, which resulted in the Techees team being acquired by Affirm in 2021. As a respected industry leader, she continues to inspire and empower others through the podcast she co-hosts—Talent Takeover Unfiltered—while simultaneously breaking barriers as a founding recruiter on Forbes.jobs, an exclusive platform, with a 6% acceptance rate.
Rooney’s businesses, including Thriversity and TalentPerch, provide comprehensive and empowering solutions to recruiting and talent acquisition. Thriversity equips individuals with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in the industry, while TalentPerch takes on the most daunting hiring goals, delivering effective and tailored strategies. Through these ventures, she revolutionizes the recruiting landscape, offering a holistic approach to empower both professionals and companies in their talent acquisition endeavors.