Alex Yastrebenetsky is an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member in Cincinnati and cofounder of InfoTrust, a digital analytics consulting and technology company helping marketers use data to make smarter decisions. Alex was a delegate at EO's two-day International Entrepreneurial Summit in June 2019 at the United Nations, which focused on inspiring, educating and connecting business leaders to promote sustainable business practices, specifically around the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
We asked Alex and InfoTrust talent acquisition manager, Lisa Wilms, what actions they've taken to promote gender equality--UN SDG 5--in the workplace. Here's what they shared:
Entrepreneurs are uniquely positioned to transform our world. This idea was evident among the 180 leaders of small- and medium-sized businesses who attended the first UN International Entrepreneurial Summit in June 2019. I was honored to read aloud EO's declaration about Gender Equality Certification; a supporting pillar of that certification is equality in the recruiting and hiring selection process.
What steps did we take specifically to promote gender equality in our recruiting and hiring processes? Our talent acquisition manager, Lisa Wilms, shares seven steps we took that you can implement in your organization:
1. Use neutral language in job descriptions
If a specific skill, certification, or experience is required, mark it as such. For others, indicate clearly when qualifications are "preferred." Keep in mind the oft-stated statistic, "Men apply for a job when they meet only 60 percent of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100 percent of them." Don't inadvertently discourage women candidates with rigid language.
The wording of a job description is incredibly important. Tools such as textio will scan your document for gender neutrality. You can find additional sources to help you with ideal wording--Forbes even noted how the word "ninja" could turn off female candidates.
2. Make a scorecard
Scorecarding is the idea of determining the core competencies of a new role before the position officially opens. It empowers you to decide what skills are necessary to achieve the desired outcomes of the role. For example, if you have an open sales position that needs to close $1,000,000 in revenue, you're looking for a closer--more specifically, someone who has experience working with enterprise-level companies and their marketing teams to generate that revenue.
Use the scorecard to generate role-appropriate questions, then assign co-interviewers to focus on these questions and their associated attributes. This will help keep the priorities of the role clear while limiting the potential for bias.
3. Provide organizational training around bias
Unconscious bias and confirmation bias can become significant problems when recruiting. Your organization must address bias and prompt people to think deeply about it, therefore taking away its power. It can be as simple as hosting training over lunch or holding more complex programs through an HR or diversity and inclusion specialist.
4. Involve more people in the interview process
Candidates want to see themselves represented within an organization. It can be very intimidating to be the only man in a room full of women (or vice versa). If a company promotes diversity as a core value, all genders should be represented within an interview process. That allows for different perspectives when answering the interviewee's questions and ensures the candidate feels comfortable (or as comfortable as one can in a job interview setting). In situations where this isn't possible, limit the number of people in the interview, with two interviewers to one candidate, for example.
5. Avoid small talk, when possible
Small talk is a simple--but sometimes destructive--pitfall. If a candidate and interviewer begin discussing sports, discovering that they both root for the Cincinnati Bengals, the interviewer may favor that person when it comes to scoring. It may also alienate candidates who dislike sports. If small talk must happen--we are human, after all--choose neutral topics, such as the weather or industry-relevant meetups, events and educational topics.
6. Interview location, location, location
My sister-in-law was recently invited to interview with a start-up. The potential employer wanted to conduct the interview in a bar. After long consideration, she decided not to go--out of concern for her personal safety.
Such scenarios not only affect female candidates but can dissuade anyone who struggles with alcohol issues or doesn't go to bars for religious reasons. If you don't have an office, borrow someone else's office, find a coworking space, or meet at a coffee shop.
7. Hold yourself accountable by tracking diversity numbers
If you can't measure it, you can't improve it. Our company's most valuable business tool is our Vivid Vision--a three-year forecast that includes goals, aspirations and game plans. It's astounding how many aspects of our current Vivid Vision have materialized. However, we made a mistake: We included company culture, but didn't specify quantitative measures for increasing diversity. In our upcoming iteration, we'll establish metrics that we, as an organization, will manage toward.
As entrepreneurs, we have the ability to make a difference, but we need practical approaches to invoke change. One such approach is improving your recruiting process to ensure an equal chance for all.