A diverse workforce begins with inclusive recruitment, and that starts with the job specification. This might sound obvious, there's some serious science involved in achieving gender neutrality. We talked to research and language specialists, and found that what we suspected was true: men and women will respond differently to the way a recruiting ad is worded.
For example, a man is more likely to apply for a role if he feels he can tick off around 50 per cent of the requirements in a bulleted list. A woman is more likely to be cautious, holding back unless she thinks she can match 90 per cent. Although these research findings are averages, they are valuable pointers for companies wanting to make sure that their ads are as fair as possible.
Since we've been testing our ads before publication, adjusting them for gender neutrality, and adding relevant information to appeal to women as well as men (such as the fact that we offer flexible working from day one of employment and that we are an inclusive employer), we've seen a significant increase in the diversity of respondents.
Addressing unconscious bias in selection
Unconscious bias is a form of short-cut that our brains use to simplify and process the vast amount of information that we take in each day. Our brains are designed to look for clues, identify patterns and organise things into groups, usually based on experience and prior knowledge. At a basic level, this enables us to make rapid decisions to help us survive (for example, if our subconscious is saying big animals with sharp teeth are dangerous, we will instinctively run for cover). We make assumptions every day at a subconscious level, picking up on clues to help us make decisions and - yes - make judgments about people and situations that will determine our reactions and behaviours.
Unfortunately, at best, the assumptions we make are based on averages and generalisations. At worst, they can come from inaccurate information, such as propaganda, gossip or dated stereotypes. In the nineteenth century, it might have been reasonable to assume that a doctor would be male, but certainly not now.
We've been supporting our own managers and external recruiting partners in eliminating unconscious bias in the recruitment process, largely through awareness, self-testing and training. As a result, we are now seeing diverse and inclusive shortlists of candidates for interview - and it's easy to see the change in mindset in the business. This is also supported by other initiatives in our diversity and inclusion strategy, the importance of getting women into our workplace is now understood, as Fujitsu is benefiting from new ideas and perspectives.
Setting out a clear checklist
Fujitsu's Inclusive Recruitment and Mobility pack sets out nine simple steps for inclusive recruitment:
- Complete your unconscious bias training
- Write inclusive job specs that will attract diverse talent
- Check your advert doesn't include masculine-coded language, using the Gender Decoder
- Consider where to promote the job specifications to reach diverse talent
- Shortlist candidates against objective criteria, using evidence they have provided
- Conduct interviews using a gender-balanced and diverse panel
- Agree interview questions and objective scoring criteria in advance
- Make reasonable adjustments to enable candidates with disabilities to perform at their best
- Always appoint the best candidate, regardless of their personal characteristics
We also run workshops on using recruitment tools, and proactively engage with our teams and external recruiting partners to promote this approach. Our leadership team has played a valuable role in modelling the change and demonstrating our new ways of working, as the example for everyone to follow.
Finally, we all know that complacency can become the beginning of the end for any kind of best practice, so it's important to keep the subject of unconscious bias on the agenda, and part of the manager review process, so that it stays a priority for achieving and maintaining diverse, inclusive and balanced workforce.
For further resources relating to how we're building a more diverse workforce, check out the following: