Gender Neutral

As a businesswoman operating in the recruitment space and as Chair of Suffolk Business Women, ensuring equality is very much part of our MD, Michelle Pollard’s, DNA.  Michelle says “So many companies across the country embrace equality and diversity so well and yet organisations like Suffolk Business Women still have to exist because yes, this is still an issue.   More and more companies accept that they do have to change the way that they attract female candidates into certain roles and sectors”.

In fact, new research by Openreach – the UK’s foremost digital network business and a leading national employer of engineers has taken a detailed look along with a linguistics specialist at the language it used across its recruitment channels.  It’s a fascinating read, and it reveals hidden bias in job adverts deters 50% of female applicants for engineering roles.   The other key findings included:

  • 200% uplift in female applicants when language is changed.
  • Latent bias runs deep: A quarter of women (24%) still feel certain careers are better suited to men than women, with 80% discounting engineering automatically.
  • Over half (55%) of women are considering a new career as a result of the pandemic.

So, what can your business do to encourage more gender diversity when advertising for your next superstar and why does this matter?

Research has proven time and time again that a more diverse workforce has been shown to encourage a wider variety of ideas and improve a company’s profitability.  Let’s repeat that again.  Research has proven time and time again that a more diverse workforce has been shown to encourage a wider variety of ideas and improve a company’s profitability.

Here’s a few top tips:

  • Use both masculine and feminine wording in equal measure, for example, masculine words could be competitive, challenging, ambitious, driven and feminine words; support, depend, responsibilities or compassionate.
  • According to research from Textio the amount of bulleted content in your job advert affects the proportion of women and men in your applicant pool. If you have too many bulleted lists, fewer women will apply. Conversely if you have too few bulleted lists, a lower number of men will apply. The ideal, gender-neutral balance they say is up to 3 bullet lists per job advert. Everyday is a school day right!

There is no point writing a gender-neutral advert and then not following through when it comes to interviewing. So maybe you could:

  • Remove names from the CVs when circulating to the hiring manager for review.
  • Ask the same interview questions irrespective of the candidate’s gender, race, sexuality, or faith.
  • Have a fair and transparent salary scheme by using a grading system across the whole company and pay a set salary for a set grade irrespective of gender.

We would also suggest being an ambassador for shared parental leave. Currently, only 2% of couples take this up, so actively promote and create an environment where either parent taking parental leave is culturally accepted, not frowned upon.

These small steps can start to make great waves when it comes to eliminating gender discrimination in the workplace. We can subliminally encourage women to apply for more roles in male-dominated sectors such as construction, engineering and technology and men to apply for roles normally dominated by women such as midwifery, childcare or beauty and healthcare.

If you would like any further advice on how to write a great gender-neutral advert give us a call on 01473 276 146. For more details on Spider and what we do, visit