There are actually several mistakes that employers make, but I wanted to focus on one that can not only get an employer in trouble it can also limit the type and quality of candidates. This mistake is not being aware of your unconscious biases.
Just not aware
Attorney friend of mine Kate Bischoff wrote a great piece called A Job Ad Doesn’t Need to Be a Job Description. In this post she talked about a wish list employment lawyers would like to see in job ads their clients write. I would you suggest you read her entire article, but the one I wanted to focus on is the section on inclusive language, or more correctly language that employers use to exclude candidates.
Many job ads are written in such a manner to exclude more candidates than they include. They are written in a way that reflects the unconscious bias of the person(s) writing the ad. Some language use reflects gender bias, such as the words independent, ambitious, analytics, challenge and analysis which have been shown to attract men and discourage women. Some language reflects age bias such as youthful or digital native. Bischoff says “Job ads can be rife with unconscious bias that discourages women, applicants of color, and other diverse candidates from applying for jobs.” Your lawyer will hate you for it and a plaintiff lawyer will see $$$$ in that ad.
Test your ads
Bischoff referred to something called a gender decoder that helps employers test their ads for improper or ineffective gender language. That decoder can be found here. When looking for that decoder I also found another article called How Badly is Your Unconscious Bias Affecting Your Recruiting Skills? It is one of the best articles I have read on the varieties of biases that interviewers can have. Written by Siofra Pratt it provides some great explanations about how our biases affect our actions. Her opening example is worth the read.
Don’t ruin your efforts
The point of my post is to help you avoid ruining your efforts in finding quality candidates by using biased language in your ads and interviews. Not only will you find yourself losing out to unbiased companies but you may also find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit.