Your New Strategy for Gender Diversity in Recruitment

 In News

Matters of gender equality are once again a hot topic in Australia. Just last month, high-profile journalist, Lisa Wilkinson left The Today Show, after her request to be paid on par with her colleague, Karl Stefanovic, who was reported to be earning almost double Wilkinson, was rejected by Channel 9.

Further, radio host Dave Hughes from Melbourne Hit 101 station, took a pay cut this year to ensure his female co-host, Kate Langbroek, received pay parity. At the same time, Google has been under fire for gender pay disparities where more male staff have higher-paid roles due to bias recruitment and promotion practices.

With Lisa Wilkinson, Hughsey & Kate, and Google making headlines for gender pay disparities, workplace gender diversity has been on the lips of recruiters around the world. Whether it be pay, diversity or equal opportunities for development, issues of gender equality manifest in many different ways in the workplace, effecting both men and women.

In today’s progressive political climate, companies cannot afford to ignore the growing importance of gender diversity.

In fact, organisations with a balance of men and women are 15 per cent more likely to financially outperform single-gender dominated companies, according to a McKinsey & Company 2015 study. Yet, women hold only 13 per cent of chair positions, 25 per cent of directorships, and represent merely 16 per cent of CEOs, according to the Australian Workplace Gender Equality Agency in 2017. By the same token, men represent only 22 per cent of workers in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry, 30 per cent of workers in Education and Training, and 45 per cent in Financial and Insurance services.

For employers looking to diversify their workplace and promote themselves as an equal-opportunity organisation, there are a number of simple strategies you can adopt today, at minimum cost, to set you apart from your competitors.

Read on to learn how to strengthen your recruitment advertising strategy to improve gender diversity in your organisation, as advised by Recruitment Advertising Team Leader at Employment Office, Jess Harkin.

  1. Identify your company as an ‘equal opportunity employer’

Unless the role you are advertising for allows you to stipulate a particular gender of applicant based on particular legislative requirements – specifying that you will only accept men OR women for a position is discrimination and can potentially get you into all sorts of hot water.

Instead, Jess advises recruiters to include a small note in the job ad identifying them as an ‘equal opportunity employer.’ If you are a male nurse applying for roles that traditionally attract and are filled by women – you are much more likely to apply with confidence for this position than if this line item had been omitted.

For those organisations with an internal policy for equal opportunity employment – why not take it one step further and celebrate this in your advertising? It may be common knowledge within your organisation, but unless your employer brand is well-known within the industry, potential employees won’t be aware of it.

  1. Be aware of gender-coded language

Yep, this is a thing! Believe it or not, certain words in a job description can significantly impact on the likelihood of the reader to apply. Gender-coded language refers to words that are more likely to appeal to one gender more than another. For example, studies show that a job description peppered with traditionally dominant characteristics such as, ‘strong,’ ‘decisive,’ and ‘independent,’ can tend to appeal more to men than women. By the same token, empathetic language such as ‘encouraging,’ ‘supportive’ and ‘committed,’ can tend to garner a stronger emotional reaction from women more often than men.

“Rightly or wrongly, hiring managers use gender-coded language all the time – and often, they’re not aware of it. Most of the time it’s not an issue, however when you have a clear strategy to attract a certain gender pool – having gender coded language that is too heavily skewed in the wrong direction, may have an impact on your success rates.

If you know you want to attract more of a particular sex to your next role, take some time to review your choice of wording for a very simple and subtle way to improve your chances of attracting the right people,” Jess shares.

  1. Distinguish between your ‘must-haves’ and ‘nice-to-haves’

A 2014 study found that, in general, men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the criteria on the job ad, but women apply only if they meet 100% of the qualifications, according to a Hewlett Packard internal report.

Women are perfectionists. (Not overly surprising, right?!!) But this also spills over to when we reflect on our own skills and experiences. When it comes to applying for a job, we are more likely to remove ourselves from the application processes if we don’t believe we tick all the boxes. On the other hand, men tend to have more of an innate confidence in their ability, and thus, are more likely to apply even if they only match a few of the criteria. “The key message to employers is to be very clear in defining your ‘must haves,’ and ‘desirables’. All of the ‘nice to have’ skills and qualifications that aren’t mandatory – leave them out of your ad and just discuss them at interview stage,” Jess advises.

  1. Harness the power of imagery

Another easy way to improve diversity attraction is by showcasing the men and women in your workplace through imagery. This goes for all of your marketing material – everything from job advertisements to your website, careers video and in email communications with candidates.

Jess encourages HR managers to take pictures of their workers in the office or out in the field to keep content authentic. “If you’re in a male-dominated industry and want to attract more women, of course, use more women in your imagery, and vice versa. For example, if you’re recruiting for a machine operator role, which traditionally attracts men, why not include a picture of a woman operating the machine?” says Jess.

  1. Walk the talk

If you aim to be a leader in your industry when it comes to gender equality, it’s critical to showcase the successes of your diverse team to your talent pool.

Jess reflects on her own experience, when she decided to join Employment Office. “I was drawn in by the number of female leaders in the business. I had come from a very male-dominated industry, and so it was refreshing to walk into an executive leadership meeting where 80 per cent of the team were women. It gave me confidence that my contributions and successes would be valued and rewarded on an equal playing field – and I know many other women think the same way. To inspire women (or men if you’re in a female-dominated industry) to apply to your organisation, be proud of your successful staff of both genders, across every level of the business, and share their stories on your website and social media,” Jess advises.

Whether your goal is to attract more women or men, depending on your current recruitment challenge, there are many simple and cost-effective techniques you can use today, to enhance your gender diversity and be recognised as an equal opportunity employer.

Editor’s note: Employment Office Recruitment Advertising Specialists are experts at delivering high quality recruitment campaigns, that will attract the very best candidates to your organisation in the most cost-effective way. Contact our RA Specialists to learn how we can craft an outstanding recruitment advertising strategy so you can begin attracting the high-quality candidates that you need today.




Australian Workplace Gender Equality Agency, 2017


Australian Workplace Gender Equality Agency, 2016 (Female- dominated industry statistic)


McKinsey & Company 2015


Hewlett Packard 2014. cited in Harvard Business Review blog post


Harvard Kennedy School: Gender-coded language study

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