Attracting more women to your company means becoming self-aware--and creative. It also means identifying things you're doing wrong. From nixing poor word choices in job ads to erasing unconscious bias, here are three ways to ensure more women apply.

1. Neutralize your job ads.

You know better than to post for a "bright young gal" to answer the phones, but it might be less obvious that other terms--rock star, ninja, dominate--can be just as off-putting for women. When Johnson & Johnson started using the tool Textio--which uses A.I. to flag and replace gendered language with more neutral wording--it saw a 9 percent bump in female candidates. And it's not just individual words that make a difference, says Courtney Seiter, director of people at social-media-management platform Buffer. "We've found that women tend to apply if they feel like they can knock it out of the park, while men apply if they meet only 50 or 60 percent of the qualifications." So Buffer has added language to each job ad, encouraging candidates to apply even if they don't meet all listed requirements.

2. Cast a more strategic net.

Asking your mostly male staff to refer their peers probably won't open the floodgates of female talent. Instead, post job openings in women-centric spaces like the Mom Project (a digital talent marketplace for everyone from CFOs to marketing pros looking for part-time work or transitioning back to the workplace) and PowerToFly (a job platform specializing in mid- to senior-level roles). Promote your openings on InHerSight, where women can read candid culture reviews on thousands of companies.

3. Balance the odds.

Research shows that when a group of four candidates is three women and one man, the odds of a woman being hired are 67 percent. And when the ratio is 1 to 1, the odds of a female being hired are 50 percent. But when only one of the four candidates is a woman, her odds plummet to 0 percent, likely because she's seen as a "token" rather than a serious option. Block that bias by aiming for an equal representation of women in the final interview rounds.

From the July/August 2019 issue of Inc. Magazine