How to Reduce Gender Bias in Your Recruitment Advertising

How to Reduce Gender Bias Within Your Recruitment Advertising

Diversity continues to be a main priority for HR, with thousands of businesses actively taking measures to develop and implement Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategies.

One of the many goals that HR departments are working towards is reducing gender bias in certain business areas.

For example, female employees are poorly represented in the areas of engineering and IT (just 9% of the UK engineering workforce is female, according to WES) and male employees are outnumbered in professions such as nursing and primary teaching.

But how can businesses achieve their gender diversity goals?

Webrecruit recommends reviewing your methods of candidate attraction, particularly your recruitment advertising strategy.

While there’s certainly no guarantee that you will attract hundreds of qualified female engineers or have an influx of male primary school teachers, there are positive steps you can take to maximise your chances of improving your application rates.

Take a look at Webrecruit’s top tips below to reduce gender bias within your recruitment advertising:


1. Make sure that your advertising is inclusive and doesn’t exclude

Surprisingly, some companies are still getting the basics wrong and including discriminative terms within their job advert.

It’s really important to be open and inclusive within your recruitment advertising; not doing so can have severe implications for your employer brand and could land you in legal trouble.

Take this hotel, for example, that was recently slammed for advertising a job that’s ‘not for ladies’.

However, not all discrimination is as obvious. Check your job titles; commonly referenced job titles, such as ‘Site Foreman’ and ‘Air Hostess’ reflect gender bias (try using ‘Site Foreperson’ and ‘Cabin Crew’ instead).


2. Check your inclusion of masculine or feminine words

It’s been noted that some words have masculine or feminine connotations; overusing some of these words can skew your advert’s bias towards male or female jobseekers.

For example, ‘aggressive’, ‘adventurous’ and ‘decisive’ are considered to be masculine-coded words, whereas ‘compassionate’, ‘honest’ and ‘dependable’ are considered to be feminine-coded words.

This theory has received mixed reactions; however, we believe it’s worth running your advert through a gender decoder, such as this one, and comparing the results with your application levels.


3. Include benefits

We’re not just talking about bonuses and company socials – consider work/life benefits such as flexi-time, maternity and paternity leave, childcare vouchers or facilities and options to work from home.

If your opportunity is flexible and can be adapted around a candidate’s out-of-work responsibilities, make it clear as it can be a huge attraction factor for both male and female candidates, particularly those with small children.


4. Make sure that you’re using the right advertising sources

Review your current advertising sources and track where your applicants are coming from. Is one particular job board delivering you with mainly male candidates? If so, it’s worth using other sources that attract female candidates as well.

Don’t forget to share your vacancies on social media sites and LinkedIn groups (you might find specific groups for women in engineering or men in teaching).


There are several other steps you can take further along the recruitment process, including at interview stage and the offer stage to ensure that your hiring process is as inclusive as possible. However, when it comes to initial candidate attraction, try incorporating the above tips within your advertising strategy.


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