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Topic Tuesday: How diversity can start with your job description

Monique vdB Community Manager Aug 27, 2018

This article discusses how tech industry job listings can exclude women and minorities:

[Terms such as 'hacker' and 'ninja'] are rooted in brogrammer culture — a term that surfaced in the mid-aughts to signal a certain type of pointedly heterosexual male engineer. It's symbolic of a cliquey, homogenous work environment...

Job descriptions highlighting the need for someone who can dedicate all their time and energy to the position often subtly exclude women and older individuals...

"People from the dominant group — white people — can use [slang] words and it's considered cool," Hutchinson said. "But if somebody actually from that group used those words," they're deemed to "have 'poor communication style.' There is a lot of privilege at play with that language."

A lot to unpack here! How are your company's job listings? Is this something you've considered when hiring or applying?

2 comments

Mary Ramirez Community Leader Aug 28, 2018

This is something I've considered many times. I live in an upcoming tech scene, where I've come across a posting that mentioned being a 'badass'. As a newbie, that can be very intimidating and misunderstood. Companies often do this to come across as cool, relatable or modern. There's no problem with presenting your company culture on a job posting, in fact, that's a smart strategy. Here's an example my company uses "In addition to being everything Atlassian we focus heavily on our people and creating a culture that is fun, challenging and rewarding. In fact, we just finished 6th on the Best Places to Work list and plan on moving up that list!" After reading that, I was very interested. 

I think an alternative is to be straightforward. Instead of using terms like badass, ninja, and Superman, just state that you're looking for someone with experience, willingness to learn or the ability to deal with a big load of work. I'm no HR director, so please replace my suggestions with something similar but better. 

Monique vdB Community Manager Aug 28, 2018

@Mary Ramirez absolutely, "badass" would give me pause too, even though I think I'm pretty great 😉 

Another thing that makes a difference is the recruiter him/herself, who can tell you a lot about the company culture. Are all your recruiters twentysomething cis white guys? That might not be a red flag but maybe a mildly pink one. 

Mary Ramirez Community Leader Aug 28, 2018

@Monique vdB,

I agree! Having a diverse group of recruiters and/or HR reps is very important. Many companies use conferences as a way to recruit new employees. If I walk past a booth and everyone looks the same, I'll most likely keep walking. Being able to see someone who looks like me or that I can relate to, is what would wheel me in.

The same can be said about websites. If I go to company XYZ's website and see all their pictures are of older white men, I'll second think whether I want to work there. While having a job and a paycheck is very important, I think feeling safe and welcomed in your workplace, holds more precedence. 

This makes me giggle as job ads very rarely reflect the actual work you will be doing in my experience.

Job ads can give some insight to the company culture though. A formal style with typos in the ad and/or attached position description tells me there is a lot of formal process but not a lot of caring about process efficiency or accuracy.

Buzz words and a reference to bean bags mean they want to be a fun company.

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