According to research from LinkedIn carried out during and just after lockdown 1, women were 10% less confident in their ability to get, or hold on to a job than men.
Similarly, 67% of women were less confident in their ability to progress their career than men, and 133% less confident about their ability to improve their financial situation in the next 6 months. To date, the hardest hit has been women in the 30+ age bracket.
However, out of this news, there is a spark of positivity. During the course of the first lockdown, RoleMapper users saw a continued uptick in female applications, especially in traditionally male dominated professions, such as engineering.
It's clear that we will be facing a recession once normal business resumes. In fact, the IMF believes 30 years of gains for women could be erased as recession deepens, so it’s more critical than ever to ensure that organisations put solid frameworks in place to attract and retain more female and diverse hires.
However, moving the dial on diversity is not a quick-fix solution or something to be added at the end of the job creation process. It needs to start at the beginning and not an insertion at the instruction of D&I teams.
Intelligent inclusive job design
Inclusion starts at the point when a role is created. Not after. It is the process of designing a job in a way that ensures it will appeal to the widest and most diverse pool of potential job holders.
It gives conscious consideration to designing the job in a way that opens it up to the widest pool of talent and is also about removing any bias or barriers that might put off - or unfairly exclude - talented people from applying or excelling in a role.
During the course of the first lockdown, RoleMapper users saw a continued uptick in female applications
This means addressing a whole range of areas to help attract female candidates, such as responsibilities and requirements, which need to be clearly defined and presented in a way that encourages them to apply for a role.
To use a recent example, the RoleMapper platform has helped one global tech company achieve a 47% change in responsibilities, in one case simplifying a role with 18 responsibilities down to four, and a 91% change in requirements from an average of 16 to just 6.
Not only are soft skills crucial for inclusive hiring, they are also becoming vital for new ways of working, such as remote, hybrid working and tech automation.
Focusing on technical skills tends to favour more male applicants, whereas women are more likely to showcase soft skills and favour jobs ads that bring these to the fore. In fact, 92% of hiring managers say soft skills are more important than hard skills.
Technical skills give a level of control for managers and recruiters to screen candidates
in or out of the process - and actually make the job of screening candidates a lot easier.
However, by focusing on pure technical skills we are baking bias into the process and possibly missing out on talent.
Flexible or hybrid working
Research by the UK government found that jobs promoted with flexibility had a 30% uplift in applications.
However, despite all the changes happening as a result of COVID, the Timewise Flexible Jobs Index saw only a minimal increase in jobs open to flexibility from 17% – 22%, which is hardly moving the dial.
Our own studies with companies on the RoleMapper platform found that jobs designed and promoted with flexibility generate a 125% increase in female candidates and an 80% increase in quality of hiring (based on the CV-to-hire ratio).
We’re living in exceptional times right now, but once normal working patterns resume more people will want and need flexible working and why it is so important for organisations need to bake-in flex for long term inclusion.
There may well be a school of thought around letting this next wave of flexibility naturally take a more organic path; let managers work with it and have ‘tailored’ conversations at employee level.
It is absolutely right that these conversations happen between employees and managers, but you need to beware the pitfalls of letting this pan out without a systematic approach.
Embedding a systematic approach to assessing job and team flexibility will take into account all the variables that have an operational impact on varying ways to work flexibly in the role.
The Role Mapper platform enables organisations to create job profiles, descriptions and ads that opens you up to a far wider and inclusive talent pool, and it’s why our user base has had continued success over such a challenging period of time.
At such a pivotal time for women and diverse ethnic backgrounds, don’t you think it’s time your organisation started to drive systemic change?