Did That Job Posting Say Salesman?

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We’ve recently shared a number of articles on achieving workplace diversity, our efforts to improve gender balance and some thoughts on pay equity, regardless of gender. The other day I came across a job posting that clearly demonstrates just how far short of ideal the current environment is.

Here is a screen shot of the job posting in question. I’m ashamed to say that the company who posted it is in our own backyard.

Right there, in the first paragraph, two sentences hit me in the face:

“Have you never met a better salesman than yourself?”

“We are looking for the absolute best salesman…”

It would appear that this company has no intention of considering a woman for the “head of sales” position. Interestingly, a second job posting from the same company (for a more junior sales position) is not gender specific.

Research has found that even the use of masculine-themed words will put many women off applying for a particular job. Chances are that using the word “salesman” instead of a gender neutral alternative will ensure predominantly male applicants.

Was the wording deliberate, or just careless?

Before jumping to any conclusions, I called them to find out. The company founder returned my call later the same day. He was surprised to learn they’d inadvertently become the subject of this blog. Apparently, the wording of the job posting also came as a surprise, since it was posted by a “junior staff person” and he hadn’t seen it. Although he sheepishly told me the employee who posted it is female, he didn’t name her and was quick to assume responsibility for not having reviewed and corrected the post before it went live. Within minutes of our conversation, the offending job post was taken offline for editing.

Now, I’m left with a number of unanswered questions, including:

  • In 2014, how did this job post happen?
  • Why, especially in a startup—where every person on the team is so critical to success, would something as important as a job posting be delegated to junior staff?
  • How could a female working in a technology company not realize that gender (male) specific language in a job post is not appropriate?
  • Should job boards (especially local, industry specific job boards) monitor for discriminatory job postings?
  • Are small businesses and startups getting the HR information they need from the various organizations that support them?

The discriminatory wording of this job post was not intentional. It was a mistake and, as we all know, mistakes happen. What matters is how we respond once they’re brought to our attention. This founder stepped up, accepted responsibility and moved to correct the error as quickly as possible. The only thing he could have done better? Agreed to let me share the name of his company and recognize him for making it right.


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10 Ways to Attract High Caliber Candidates with Compelling Copy

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A standard job advertisement is like a marketing campaign that attracts a few new customers: lots of effort for little return. A great job ad, on the other hand, attracts dozens of suitable candidates who are excited about the role and eager to work with your organization. A great job ad triggers conversation, social sharing and an inbox full of A-player resumes. Winning Applicant by RubyGoes, Flikr Think about what would make you interested in applying for a position and use that to get the attention of your next star hire. Here are 10 ideas to get you started. Job Ad …

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In two previous articles, we considered how to ensure diversity in your candidate pool and how to maintain it throughout the interview process. In this third and final installment, we offer some strategies you can use at the offer stage and beyond to increase your chances of successfully hiring your target demographic and keeping them on board. Let’s start by examining the offer. Onboarding by Jeff Lowe, Flickr Flexible Offers Your default offer probably favors the demographic you have traditionally attracted. In other words, it was designed to support the staffing imbalance you are now trying to correct. …

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