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Shock as HR’s gender bias in leadership hiring is revealed

In an era where organisations seemingly prioritise diversity, equity, and inclusion, it might be difficult to grasp that one in seven HR execs think men are better placed in senior management roles than women.

A recent poll* has shocked professionals as it reveals that many HR decision-makers think men are better placed in senior management roles than women.

In an era where organisations seemingly prioritise diversity, equity, and inclusion, and FTSE 350 companies are urged to meet targets of boards made up of 40% women (which thankfully they have, three years ahead of their 2025 deadline), it might be difficult to grasp that one in seven HR execs hold such beliefs, and nearly one in five admitted their reluctance to hire women was based on their belief they might go on to start families.

On top of that, the findings outline nearly half of the young women who were surveyed were concerned about the lack of opportunities to progress at work, and 50% have faced more discrimination this year, with half reportedly experiencing it, up from 42% in 2022.

Thea Watson, Chief Growth Officer at BrightHR, comments on the concerning findings, and provides her advice for organisations to stamp out such prejudice.

“You would be forgiven for thinking this poll had been conducted in the dark ages—but unfortunately the results reflect the sad reality today for many working women in today’s workplace.

“Of course, businesses will want to attract not only the top talent to join their teams, but also the individuals who are a ‘good fit’ for their organisation. But employers need to be careful with what they consider to be a ‘good fit’ given that a claim for discrimination can be brought by job applicants as well as by employees…

“To ensure bias is removed, many organisations utilise the practice of “blind hiring”. This is where certain information—such as job candidates’ ethnicity, educational background, gender, and age—is removed from an application in an attempt to eliminate any unconscious bias so that decisions are made based on individuals’ skills alone. If specific qualifications are a requirement, how hiring managers ascertain whether a job applicant has the necessary credentials will need to be factored in.

“Although such information would be removed at the initial stages, it is likely that companies will still want to have an interview with the job applicant face-to-face, either in person, or via a video call. At this point their gender and age are likely to be apparent. There could still, therefore, be room for bias before a final decision is made. Whether or not a company uses “blind hiring” they should still review their recruitment processes and provide training to their managers to ensure that they are recruiting in a fair and non-discriminatory manner.”

www.youngwomenstrust.org/our-research/the-long-road-to-change-annual-survey-2023/

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