Want to be More Inclusive? Change the Way You Interview Women.

Diversity and Inclusion efforts should be important and a priority for every organization to get more women into leadership positions. One major issue that people try to address is the “pipeline.” This means they believe that there isn’t enough diversity in the people getting degrees or applying to jobs in the industry. Many companies have taken big steps to try and resolve this issue, such as setting up scholarships and programs to get more people into that area. But what if there were more simple steps that you could take in the interview to help be more inclusive of women in your organization.


Pay equality has been, for decades, an issue between men and women. There has been a long time debate on whether the gender pay gap exists or not and, if it does, what can be done about it. An article on payscale.com states that, “The first thing to know is that, no matter how you slice it, there is a gender pay gap. Do men really make more than women? Yes. The gender pay gap is very real. But the best-known stat—that women earn 76 cents for every dollar earned by men (according to PayScale’s latest data)—only tells part of the story.

This stat is representative of the uncontrolled—or “raw”—gender pay gap, which looks at a median salary for all men and women regardless of job type or worker seniority. When looking at the uncontrolled gap, it is true that the median salary for men is roughly 24 percent higher than the median salary for women.”

We need to start paying women equally to men. This is one of the largest reasons it can be hard to not only get women into a role, but also retaining them and including them within the leadership.

Starting a Family and Other Illegal Questions

Women are often subjected to discrimination even from the interview process. Despite certain topics or questions being off limits to interviewers, many still face questions that can make it seem like they have to choose between being a mom and working. According to FindLaw.com “Both federal and state laws prohibit employment discrimination of many kinds. For instance, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Federal laws that relate specifically to women include the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) — prohibiting discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) — prohibiting discrimination against pregnant women and parents who take leave from their employment responsibilities to care for a newborn baby, sick child, or aging parent.”

So next time you are interviewing a women try to avoid unconscious bias by asking questions like:

  • Do you have any children? If so, how many and what are their ages?
  • Are you single, married, divorced, or engaged?
  • What kind of childcare arrangements do you have in place?
  • Are you currently taking any form of birth control or fertility treatment?
  • What are your plans if you get pregnant?
  • Does your spouse work? If so, what does your spouse do for a living?
  • Should we refer to you as Mr., Miss, or Mrs.

Multiple in Candidate Pool

Another way to try to prevent unconscious or implicit bias is to make sure that there is more than one person in a certain candidate pool. A recent Harvard study looked at how if there is only one in a candidate pool they can be seen as an outlier.

An article on slate.com states, “that having a single woman or a single person of color in the finalist pool for a job is effectively equivalent to having zero women or people of color. “If there’s only one woman in your candidate pool, there’s statistically no chance she’ll be hired,” write business professors Stefanie K. Johnson and David R. Hekman and Ph.D. candidate Elsa T. Chan.”

This means that just having a “token” women or person of color candidate does nothing for your organizations D&I efforts. In fact it may hurt them more since the chances of them actually being hired is almost zero.

Want to learn more about how to Build Next Level Talent Through Inclusive Recruiting? Check out our our sister organization at http://www.diversitycertification.org and download our FREE 14 page guide.

Confidence vs Aggression (Men vs Women)

When women are interviewed, or even after they are hired, being confident can come to be perceived as being too aggressive. Where if a man was similarly confident it would be a positive trait. Forbes paints this scenario perfectly.

“You’re in an executive meeting. The guy to your left stands, pounds his fist on the table and barks about whatever he thinks matters. “He’s so passionate about our business!” somebody comments, almost in awe. The next guy, the one across the table, adds his two cents, nearly shouting in disagreement. And the boss steps in to temper the team. “No need to be so aggressive,” he says, chuckling with a wink.

Now it’s your turn. You don’t agree with one of the initiatives for the upcoming quarter. So you speak up—just as equally passionate and aggressive as your male colleagues. But what you hear in response is something along the lines of: “No need to get so emotional,” and in the hallway, someone whispers, “She’s so bitchy.”

All too often this kind of biased treatment is what causes many women to either turn down positions or leave companies to seek better work environments. We need to do better at recognizing and addressing our unconscious biases and treat women equally with men in the workplace.

The Society for Diversity is the largest organization for diversity and inclusion in the US. With members in 43 states, The Society for Diversity represents a highly specialized association of Fortune 500, nonprofit, government and education professionals throughout the U.S. The Society for Diversity is also the parent company of the Institute for Diversity Certification (IDC), which designates qualification credentials to diversity experts through their professional diversity certification program. By teaching diversity professionals and executives how to drive real-world results, the IDC helps individuals advance their careers as well as have a greater overall impact on diversity & inclusion within their organizations. Together, we can standardize and elevate the field. 



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