HR matters: How to avoid gender discrimination in the hiring process

By 9 October 2015 No Comments

Here at Oxford HR, we like to keep an eye on statistics: In order to make sure that as well as helping organisations find talented leaders with the perfect skill-set, we are also helping them to fight discrimination and stay true to their values.

According to Girl Effect, while women make up roughly 40% of the global workforce, they only account for 3% of America’s CEOs. The development sector is slightly ahead of the private sector in this area, but even here women are struggling to make it to CEO and board level roles; in the top 100 UK charities (based on income and assets), only 17-25% of the leadership positions are held by women.

However, evidence shows that gender diversity increases business success:

  • “Companies with better gender diversity on their Boards or top management teams have 53% higher return on equity (McKinsey 2014)
  • For every 1 % rise in the rate of gender diversity and ethnic diversity in a workforce there is a 3 and 9 % rise in sales revenue, respectively (American Sociological Association study)
  • A 2012 Deloitte study of 1,500 employees in Australia found an 80% increase in business performance among businesses with high levels of diversity and inclusion”

Last year’s internal report showed that despite having significantly fewer female applicants, Oxford HR has a very egalitarian hiring record: 48% of our successful candidates recruited into top positions are women. But what’s the secret to fighting gender-based discrimination in the hiring process without compromising on quality?

Even if you have the best of intentions, it can be hard to level the playing field for men and women simply because male and female employees often have different needs. For instance, women are more likely to have a gap on their CV than their male counterparts. Often, taking a more thorough look at someone’s qualifications and experience can be helpful.

Managing Director of Oxford HR, Hazel Douglas, said:

“We need to ask deeper questions to find out about why otherwise strong applicants have gaps on their CVs. Were they caring for elderly relatives, or children, for example? They might be a great candidate, but for whatever reason they don’t so obviously have the competitive edge and just need to be given a chance to prove that they can do the job.

And it isn’t just about helping women, although that’s obviously important. Having this mind-set also opens the field up for a more diverse selection of male candidates, and ultimately it enriches the sector a great deal. It’s a shame that even in such a values-based sector as the not-for-profit world, people still won’t be more open to this mind-set when hiring senior level staff.”

But are enough organisations willing to take the risk of giving more women the benefit of the doubt? Oxford HR endeavours to conduct searches in as open and fair a way as possible, while also ensuring that the highest standards are met. Each and every one of the candidates we recommend, whether male or female, are leaders of the best calibre. By letting us help in your search, you can rest assured that you are doing your bit to promote fair hiring practice.

Jamie Phillips

Jamie Phillips

Jamie joined Oxford HR in 2015, and has experience recruiting experts in International Development for private sector development, finance, environment and climate change, agriculture and agribusiness, food security, health, and economic development.