Best Practice in Recruitment

Recruitment Guidelines

Welcome to our Tech Talent Charter recruitment guidelines page. These guidelines are designed to give you some practical suggestions around recruitment and selection to help improve your representation of females in technology.

We have created these guidelines in consultation with a number of thought leaders and influencers both male and female from the HR, recruitment and technology sectors. All of whom commonly cited technology recruitment as one of the main challenges to their business delivery and performance. With such pressures in recruitment so frequently felt it’s sometimes difficult to prioritise the diversity of your candidates and the gender balance of your talent pipeline. However much research indicates businesses with greater diversity benefit from higher employee satisfaction, greater product innovation, and quicker speed to market and ultimately higher revenues.

These guidelines are split into three sections covering Job Descriptions, Advertising Strategy and Selection Process. These guidelines are designed to highlight some areas of difference and also suggest some practical ways you can address these differences and create a more gender balanced approach to recruitment. As part of the Tech Talent Charter commitments this will help your organisation ultimately work towards improving your female candidate pipeline to enable you to implement the Rooney Rule (interviewing at least one female candidate, where available, as part of the recruitment process).

Steve Williams
Steve Williams - Director of Technology, XpertHR “We value customer-centric agile working, cloud-computing, mobile and analytics and it is the diversity of the work that is driving the diversity of the workforce and culture. Being able to articulate your company’s passion for technology and the support for its people to grow and be nurtured is, for me, a necessity to be successful in today’s world.”
Liz Jones
Liz Jones - Director, Technology Practice “Technology is a core capability for all organisations, so if you are not attracting 50% of the population that is a problem.”
Vimi Grewal-Carr
Vimi Grewal-Carr - Managing Partner for Innovation “Promoting inclusion is the responsibility of everyone in the workplace. In a business so dependent on the calibre of its people, encouraging diversity is an essential element for success.”
Terrie Weddell
Terrie Weddell - Senior Consultant “We know personally how inspiring female roles models can be in our own business. If you look at our team in London alone, we have five female directors, with plenty more in senior roles.
And in turn I think the key is making sure that inspiration is passed onto our clients. They have confidence in us and our female leaders.”
Andrew Farr
Andrew Farr - Development Manager, Xpert HR “The male/female balance in any team changes the dynamic and therefore how everyone in the team works together. This is even more evident in a technical team. It has been proven that male and female brains solve problems in different ways. Being able to tackle problems from different view-points is an obvious benefit to any team. From the environment perspective, a good gender mix in the team changes interactions, from schedules to preferences of work and interests in different areas meaning that the team doesn’t grow stale always working in a set number of ways.”

Job Descriptions

Women respond to job descriptions differently to men. Any organisation looking to diversify and address the gender balance within their Technology function needs to pay particular attention to the content within the job description itself in order to encourage more women with wider skill-sets to apply.
Below are a few tips and things to think about when writing a job description and which, used in conjunction with the Advertising Strategy, could attract and increase the female candidate pipeline.
  • Focus on skills. Within the technology sector jobs descriptions can be very narrow and focus on specific technologies, coding languages, platforms…etc. These will only create a narrow applicant pool and may deter women who don’t necessarily have the specific experience with each of the technologies from applying. However a well-educated, dedicated, quick learner who is also adaptable will be able to pick up new technologies with ease. Focus on those skills in your job description to ensure you continue to attract high-calibre candidates, without deterring women.
  • Showcase training opportunities. Highlight learning opportunities like formal training and mentorship programs. This implies that you are willing to hire candidates who do not meet every single listed job qualification. It also shows a commitment to helping employees gain new skills on the job. Both of these messages can help alleviate concerns of under-qualification.
  • Words can make all the difference. Avoid superlative terms like asking for “experts”, candidates who are “assertive”, or “best of the best” implies that you are looking for someone at the very top of their field. Using these phrases may deter applicants who recognise that they are advanced in their skills, they may even be the best among their peers, but not necessarily the most experienced in their field or outspoken. Phrases such as “resilient, collaborative, creative and must be highly competent” are more likely to attract a diversity of candidates.
  • “He” vs. “She.” It’s easy to write this line without thinking: “The qualified candidate will be dedicated. He will be willing to work extended hours.” For every reference to your male qualified candidate, make sure you use a feminine pronoun elsewhere. Women are more likely to respond to gender-neutral or gender-balanced job advertisements, rather than those that assume the successful applicant will be a “he”.
  • Balance gender-themed words. Words such as active, competitive, dominate, decisive, and objective can make job descriptions less appealing to women, compared to descriptions that also use feminine-themed words such as community, dependable, responsible, and committed. Many of these words are synonyms and can be interchanged. By using a mixture of both, you create an image of a balanced culture open to both genders.
  • Company culture. The phrase “We work hard and play hard.” is often thrown in to highlight a fun company culture, but it also implies that employees are expected to spend time outside of working hours with their co-workers. This can deter people who have commitments outside of work from applying. It’s important to be clear about the time commitment you expect, and what additional demands on employees’ time might be.

Advertising Strategy

Casting the widest net and thinking about broadening your advertising strategy and reach is likely to deliver a much greater diversity of candidates.
In order to successfully implement the Rooney Rule (ensuring that at least one female applicant is shortlisted for interview), improving the female candidate pipeline will need to be a key aim of your advertising strategy. The following areas have been identified as ways you can improve the gender diversity of your applicants.
  • Whilst using big job search sites will deliver a wide reach of candidates you may also find that niche female technology specific job pages help more actively target females working in the technology sector.
  • Raising your employer branding presence on social media and more specifically female technology communities and groups on networking sites such as LinkedIn can widen your candidate reach too.
  • Use your female technology employees as role models to help post on social media and networking groups to re post and share your job adverts.
  • Attend female technology events and discussion forums. These are usually free events and provide a great opportunity to build and extend your networking within the female technology community.
  • When attending or hosting virtual careers fairs ensure you use your female technology employees to act as role models to demonstrate greater female diversity in your organisation.
  • Ensure your employer branding represents females in your imagery and videos, and empathises with them and encourages them.
Francesca Campalani
Francesca Campalani - Head of Attraction, Deliotte “Social media channels are often used more by women than men so it is a really rich environment to make sure that our female gender oriented candidates are aware of all the opportunities and culture of our firm.”
Bhagya Mudiyanselage
Bhagya Mudiyanselage - Senior Test Analyst, XpertHR “Women candidates needs to see the type of women who works in a company. Seeing them happy, seeing them strong, seeing them successful are indicators that the company supports them, empathise them and encourage them. Having a woman in the interview panel will show the candidates the success they can achieve.”

Working With Recruitment Agencies

As recruitment agencies are an extension of our recruitment practices and branding, it is important that they are on board with the aims of the Tech Talent Charter too.
We would advise that you discuss the charter with your agencies so that they understand the commitments, and can help fulfil shortlists with diverse candidates in line with the Rooney Rule. It may be important to discuss timings and expectations with a degree of flexibility to fulfil on the requirements of the Tech Talent Charter and create an aligned approach.In the future when reviewing or adding to your preferred supplier list (PSL) please consider adding diversity and gender diversity in technology as one of your criteria for the selection process.
Anna Jacobs
Anna Jacobs - Associate Director, Hudson “Our number one priority is that we fully align ourselves with every one of our client’s strategies. If diversity is top of their list, it’s imperative we make it top of ours. The simple answer is that if you’re not talent pooling from the most diverse range of candidates possible, there’s so much you miss out on. You just can’t produce the best results.”
Lottie Gunn
Lottie Gunn - Senior Communications Recruitment Consultant, Ellwood Atfield “As the conduit between companies and candidates it is crucial recruitment agencies fully understand company’s diversity strategies and support them throughout every stage of the recruitment process. It is important that recruitment agencies are aligned to diversity strategies to ensure that they are implemented at every stage of the recruitment process. Recruitment agencies will often provide specialist guidance and introduce effective tools and processes to ensure that the candidate pool is as wide as possible, so that female diversity is encouraged.”
Angela Mitchell
Angela Mitchell - Local Public Services Lead Partner, Consulting “Recruitment agencies can share companies diversity strategies, in person with their candidates and in their advertisement of roles, on-line, off-line. By understanding a company’s diversity strategy and culture, they can help match candidates to the right organisations.”

Measuring Success

To make effective decisions on your advertising strategy and success with regards to gender diversity, we would strongly recommend you build in measures and reporting on your advertising channels. To effectively assess the success of your differing advertising channels we would suggest you think about regularly measuring and reporting on the following.
  • Gender representation at CV stage as a percentage of total responses
  • Gender representation at successful CV or application screen stage
  • Gender representation at successful job offer stage
Measuring the candidate experience may also be an effective way to identify areas of improvement throughout your recruitment process and explore any gender differences. This can be done by sending a select sample of recent applicants brief questionnaires covering the following areas;
  • Ease of application process
  • Speed of applicant response
  • Quality of communications and information provided
  • Overall interview or selection process experience
Soyini Taylor
Soyini Taylor - Associate DBA, Infrastructure and Operations Group, Risk and Business Analytics “Excitement about technology is the first step in building a strong recruitment base. This in many ways may need to be done before the recruitment process starts. The tech day for girls is one of the many ways to help create a new opinion of what a job in technology really means and enforces that technology is for creative and talented women and men with a range of interests”
Shilpa Shah, Director
Shilpa Shah, Director - Consulting, Analytics & Information Management and Women in Tech Network Lead “We face a multifold challenge. We don’t have enough girls doing STEM subjects at school so we’re working with schools to try and change this. We want to change the perception of technology so when we go into schools or attend recruitment fairs we showcase the innovative things we do and are there to answer questions. We try to show that technology is not just full of stereotypical bearded men coding in sandals”
Jenna Cook
Jenna Cook - Global Service Delivery Operations Manager, Infrastructure and Operations Group, Risk and Business Analytics “…careers advice does not always provide young people with the information they may need; a number of the girls said they were put off Technology careers because they did not know enough about the kind of careers available, a few said they also were put off by a lack of female representation and role models. There is an apparent gap in terms of the number and range of jobs being promoted to girls, combined with a lack of female role models in sufficiently senior positions to convince girls they are welcome. Correcting the negative perceptions that girls develop at a young age can lead them to embrace technology through high school, rather than avoid the subjects.”
Terry Tomecek
Terry Tomecek - Director of Technology – CSG, RBI Technology Group “All technology organisations are aware of the challenges around recruitment, a growth sector where we just can’t get enough of the right skills sets at the right time. Successful technology companies ensure they have a variety of recruitment methods and internships and apprenticeships enable them to explore different avenues to fulfil their recruitment needs. There is an investment in terms of time to develop, having robust structures and processes in place, cost of training and mentoring but it is all worth it to develop raw talent, that will grow within your organisation and eventually become the pioneers of change and development of the future.”
Dorota Tsatsaris
Dorota Tsatsaris - Director Product Engineering, ICIS “With many technology related jobs benefiting from gender diversity it is important to ensure that the talent pipeline is diverse. The current levels of below 20% computer science graduates being women limit the potential for diversity in technology teams and therefore limit the benefits it brings. To increase those levels the work has to start early, at school, when the girls make their future career choices. Engaging the young girls helps to increase their awareness of the career pathways in technology as well as offering encouragement and role models, therefore diminishing the fears and stereotypes that may have been holding them back from choosing a technical career.”

Selection Process

To attract more women into technology it’s important that companies consider how their selection process supports that aim. As we know typically there are much higher levels of males in technology than females, and for that reason most decisions on the selection process are made by men. There are however subtle differences in how both men and women think about and approach applying for jobs.
We have mentioned earlier how important job descriptions are for attracting the right candidates. The job description is your shop window to draw people in, however your selection process is the shopping experience.
So how female friendly is your selection process? In a male dominated sector it’s not always front of mind to think how our company appears from a female candidate perspective.
Here are some of our suggestions on things to think about when assessing the environment and selection process from a female perspective.
  • Have females present in as many stages of the recruitment process as possible. Recent research by Pluralsight and Women Who Code found that ‘imposter syndrome’ in a male-dominated industry was one of the top challenges for women in technology. It’s much easier for people to see themselves fitting in when they see people like themselves in the process or visible in the organisation.
  • Ensure that you give adequate time for discussion on both sides about the culture and environment of the business. Women are more likely to want to know what it’s actually like to work in a business, so invest time in discussing the culture of your organisation. Women are also more likely to have flexible working needs then men (typically 15% of men, compared to 85% of women with children need some degree of flexibility in their work), so ensure if there are such questions that women have an opportunity to understand and ask.
  • Invest more time in talking to female candidates throughout the selection process. From our research we found that female candidates typically needed a lot more conversation and information before committing to an interview or job offer. Ensure that your recruiters invest in this and have regular touch points with female candidates throughout the selection process.
  • Ensure you offer a fair starting salary offer, only 8% of women negotiate on the first offer compared to 45% of men (What works, Gender Equality by Design Iris Bohnet). Ensure that the salary is fair and that you don’t lose women due to not offering the same package as men achieve post negotiation.
  • Give women time to think about the offer and decision. From our conversations with technology recruiters they observed that men typically accept job offers on the same day whereas women typically prefer 2-3 days to think it over. Again ensure that all questions are answered to enable women to make the right judgements.
Rebecca George
Rebecca George - Lead Heath Partner, Risk Advisory “Paul Bennie, MD, Bennie MacLeanscience graduates should not equate to a shortage a female software developers. Look past than help applicants to see the diverse nature of the organisation, be more open and transparent in questions they may have prior to joining and provided them with a window into their potential future careers. By having the ability to speak with females who actually work in the disciplines they may choose to work in they are able to picture themselves fitting in with the culture of the organisation which we recognise is of paramount importance in a people business.”
Terry Tomecek
Terry Tomecek - Director of Technology – CSG, RBI Technology Group “All technology organisations are aware of the challenges around recruitment, a growth sector where we just can’t get enough of the right skills sets at the right time. Successful technology companies ensure they have a variety of recruitment methods and internships and apprenticeships enable them to explore different avenues to fulfil their recruitment needs. There is an investment in terms of time to develop, having robust structures and processes in place, cost of training and mentoring but it is all worth it to develop raw talent, that will grow within your organisation and eventually become the pioneers of change and development of the future.”
Dorota Tsatsaris
Dorota Tsatsaris - Director Product Engineering, ICIS “With many technology related jobs benefiting from gender diversity it is important to ensure that the talent pipeline is diverse. The current levels of below 20% computer science graduates being women limit the potential for diversity in technology teams and therefore limit the benefits it brings. To increase those levels the work has to start early, at school, when the girls make their future career choices. Engaging the young girls helps to increase their awareness of the career pathways in technology as well as offering encouragement and role models, therefore diminishing the fears and stereotypes that may have been holding them back from choosing a technical career.”

De-biasing The Selection Process

Whilst we all think we are great judges of character making unbiased decisions, we are far more susceptible to make flawed decisions than you think. Industries with a high presence of one gender over another are much more likely to have challenges with unconscious bias.
We would recommend the following to reduce your likelihood of unconscious bias.
  • Don’t schedule interviews when you are time pressured as you will be far more likely to make quick decisions and biased decisions when you are not fully engaged and not thinking about what’s on your “to do” list
  • Use competency based and structured interviews where you ask all candidates the same questions, and make judgements based on experience and examples, rather than opinion and judgement.
  • A study through the Clayman Institute of Gender Studies at Stanford found that the number of female musicians in orchestras when up by 20% after the method of selection was changed from face to face to blind auditions. We wouldn’t necessarily recommend interviews be conducted from behind screens but do use multi selection methods rather than just interviews – where possible try and incorporate a range of selection methods such as ability tests, case studies, and 100 day plans to open up the variety and breadth of the assessment, and minimise the risk of biased decisions.
  • Score your assessments – applying ratings and scores reduces the chances of making decisions on gut instinct or potentially biased reasons.
  • Use a number of assessors across selection stages but avoid panel interviews. Using a selection of people increases the richness of information and quality of assessments people make, whereas in group scenarios people are far more likely to be influenced by the judgements and opinion of others. Research by McDaniel 1994 showed that structured individual assessor interviews were the most accurate at 46% reliability and the lowest reliability was reported for unstructured panel interviews at 32%.
  • Use appropriate selection methods relevant for the job. If the job never requires you to present to a panel, why does your selection process?
  • Set your selection criteria upfront rather than during the process. Research has shown that if we are clear and agree at the beginning what are the “needs to have” and the “nice to have” with regards to people requirements, we are far less likely to change our minds or be influenced by bias during interviews.
Michael Lopez
Michael Lopez - Director of Software Engineering, ICIS “Raising awareness on the topic of subconscious bias was a great eye opener for the team. You can’t improve what you don’t understand and the training provided by the organization was the first step in the process of educating teams on this challenging subject. The teams are now able to approach the hiring process with an improved perspective, enabling RBI to find the best people available.”
Victoria Lawes
Victoria Lawes - Director of Resourcing “Training is important because everyone has unconscious biases, it’s important that individuals recognise what their biases may be and get them to put strategies in place to combat it. It’s also important that in an interview perspective interviewers are assessing people on their ability to do the job and not gut feel.”
Sharon Thorne
Sharon Thorne - Member of both the Deloitte UK Executive and Board “There is no glass ceiling, but there is an unconscious one. Most leadership roles are held by men. We are hard wired to prefer people who look like us, sound like us and have similar values – hence it isn’t surprising that white male led organisations perpetuate leaders who are white males. This unconscious bias is one of the main factors that is holding back diversity in leadership positions.”
Glenn Martin
Glenn Martin - Principal Consultant “Unconscious bias is a major issue for any recruiter. If you allow yourself to fall into that trap, the quality of your findings will suffer. The reason we’re launching PULSE MINDSET™ and other advanced methods of psychometric testing is to assess traits like motivators, drive and ambition, and not just judge a candidate based on their paper CV.”

And lastly it doesn’t stop at offer stage.

Resigning from a job can be an unsettling and uncertain time. To reduce this uncertainty, ensure that candidates remain informed and updated on their on-boarding plan.

Female candidates may typically want more information on the following areas:

  • Hours of work
  • Mentoring programmes
  • Employee benefits
  • Flexible working policies (including options for parental leave for both men and women)
  • Team environment
  • Career pathways and approach to development
  • Culture and descriptions of the type of work they will be doing
  • A contact to answer pre-onboarding questions
Johanna Portlock
Johanna Portlock - Senior HR Business and D&I lead, Reed Business Information “We implemented the Tech Talent charter principles at RBI about 6months ago. With over 150 new roles in technology this year it makes sense to think about how we can take proactive steps to encourage more women into technology.
Since the initial discussions with the business about the charter we have appointed an executive sponsor, steering group, improved our gender diversity measures and held a school day for local young girls on what careers in technology are actually like. We are working towards implementing the Rooney Rule over the next 6 months.
I’m very proud to say we have 24% of our technology roles being help by women and we will continue to improve this moving forward”
Jo Fisher
Jo Fisher - HR Business Partner, Global Technology, Reed Business Information “Diversity and inclusion is a key part of our strategy in order to drive a high performance culture – we know that greater diversity delivers greater business performance. As well as driving other aspects of diversity, the Tech Talent Charter has given us the opportunity to focus not only the amazing female talent we already have in our business, but also to drive creative and innovative strategies in order to build our female talent pipeline. I’m proud of the importance placed on this initiative by both our executive and leadership teams, as well as the commitment of both our female and male technologists, to ensure we have a diverse and inclusive business culture.”

Notes

Pluralsight and Women Who Code (2016), Study: Women in tech careers yearn for female role models and flexibility in the workplace, Online. https://www.pluralsight.com/blog/career/women-in-tech–what-women-want