Beware Of Gender

In the recent weeks, I have been in the process of hiring a one year intern. I have been through the hiring process before and I keep up to date with recent hiring techniques. For example, always asking the same questions to each applicant, figuring out their skills and approach rather than the knowledge they have already accumulated. The goal is to focus to find the key strengths you are looking for in this position and finding the potential rather than checking off tick boxes. I genuinely believe everyone has a skill they bring to the table, it just might not be the one you are looking for.

For this position, I was looking for someone with great interest in new products, new technology, and someone who likes to get lost in exploring them and rolling them out. I interviewed eight candidates that were already screened by HR on their skill set. I focused on looking for someone that would be happy working on their own, getting lost in a new area and learning on their own. Someone that gets motivated when given a puzzle on their own and learns the ins and out of this puzzle. According to that, I placed my offers.

Once completed, my boss asked me how the hiring was for me. When I mentioned that I was very impressed by all candidates, I felt that the following three would be my top choice he said: “Why aren’t there women in your top three?”.

No objection here. It is great that a male keeps an eye out for female applicants. But just because I am a woman and a feminist it doesn’t mean that I put women first. It’s not about treating women better than men. It’s about equality. And if I had found a woman that would have covered all the characteristics I was looking for, I would have put her up. But I didn’t.

Real women do not want to receive something simply because they are women. They just don’t want to be discriminated or neglected because they are female. Gender should never, ever play a role in the hiring process.

I am a big fan of the technique some orchestras have used. They use blind auditions and that has helped them increase the number of women they hire.

“In the 1970s and 1980s, orchestras began using blind auditions. Candidates are situated on a stage behind a screen to play for a jury that cannot see them. In some orchestras, blind auditions are used just for the preliminary selection while others use it all the way to the end, until a hiring decision is made.

Even when the screen is only used for the preliminary round, it has a powerful impact; researchers have determined that this step alone makes it 50% more likely that a woman will advance to the finals.” (full article: The Guardian).

We need to find ways to do this in business. For example, even removing the name of the candidate off the CV and just giving an ID, thus removing any gender indication. Not having a photo is also a really good beginning. It can’t hurt in any way if its really just the skills you are looking for. And that’s what it should be.

Male or female – your candidate should fit to the position. Gender should never play a bias. And for the record, in case you are wondering, I have hired women before. Skills and strengths are associated to a person and their character, and not the category of their gender.

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