An interesting paradox to mark Women’s Day

Women stand a better chance of being hired for a job they apply for, but at the same time, their profiles are less frequently opened by recruiters as compared to men’s.

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When I remember my grandmother today the only image that comes to mind is of her standing inside the kitchen cooking some meal or the other for the family throughout the day. She usually held a huge wooden ladle and rarely ever left the ancestral home. In stark contrast, I her grand-daughter am in front of the laptop most of the time. And her teenaged great-grand-daughter, a voracious reader and a dancer, shows no interest in cooking whatsoever. And the best part is, we both get away with it. We women sure have come a long way.

Not only are we very much out there in the world, we exercise our vote with confidence, take on leadership roles, efficiently straddle work and home and even manage to excel on both fronts. While we are rubbing shoulders with men— something granny would never have dreamt or approved of— are we better off than men yet? Not really. Gender bias seems to be a long way away from eradication, especially in the professional sphere.

A recent LinkedIn study reveals that recruiters prefer to open and view the profiles of men more frequently than women, on LinkedIn! The ‘Gender Insights Report: How Women Find Jobs Differently’, reveals that while going through candidates on LinkedIn, recruiters are 13 per cent less likely to open a woman’s profile that is thrown up in a search. Even if they do click on one, they are 3 per cent less likely to send an InMail after going through it.
However, if we ignore this initial bias, there is yet another interesting revelation. Once they apply for a job, women stand a better chance of getting hired! Now that is a paradox worth investigating.

Why are organisations still reluctant to hire more women?

The reasons could be varied. The most recent one is the #MeToo movement. Some organisations are even willing to hire less qualified men rather than qualified women because of the recent spate of #MeToo revelations that have cost certain companies dearly. In fact, if the woman applicant is attractive, her chances of being hired for the job become all the more slim.

Another major reason is that maternity leave does take a toll on the organisations. With the leave being extended to 26 weeks— more than double of what it used to be— many organisations refrain from hiring young women. Not only do they lose out on a trained resource, they end up spending valuable time and money in trying to get someone else to fill in while the experienced one is away fulfilling the demands of motherhood.

But then the advantages of hiring women far outweigh the disadvantages. Isn’t that why the Gender Insights Report clearly states that women applicants are more likely to get hired for the job they apply for than men? Women are 16 per cent more likely than men to get hired once they apply for a position. When it comes to senior roles, the Report says that women are 18 per cent more likely to get hired for the position than men.

But why is it so? The answer lies in the fact that women are cautious applicants. They do not send in their resumes to every other organisation or apply for every other position. They find out all they can about companies before attempting to take up a job there. 41 per cent women read up about the company on LinkedIn before applying. That isn’t all— they do not always apply for the jobs they view either. In fact, women are 16 per cent less likely to apply for a job they view. Also, women apply to 20 per cent fewer jobs than men. Clearly, they are selective. And most importantly, they do not apply until they are fully convinced that they are 100 per cent suited to and qualified for the job.

On the other hand, men will apply even if they meet 60 per cent of the selection criteria.
So obviously, when a recruiter is interacting with a woman candidate, she is definitely a better fit for the job than a man vying for the same role or post.

On this Women’s Day, all HR leaders who believe in diversity should take a step towards implementing practices that would help reduce the selection bias. The best way to do this is by doing away with the primary identifiers of gender, including photographs and candidates’ names from the applications.
HR should also ensure that candidates are assessed on the basis of a test, which is based on skills alone. Their previous experience, previous employers, the names of their schools or colleges, and their previous designations should neither matter nor be taken into account.

These are measures that can be easily implemented and will go a long way in helping women rub shoulders with the men in the true sense of the word. So, chuck the flowers, chocolates and gifts. Do something more concrete and long term. Contribute significantly towards the theme for International Women’s Day 2019 — #BalanceForBetter. Join the global push for professional and social equality!

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