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HR News | Over half of UK employees believe their company has a gender-neutral approach to culture and staff

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​Over half of UK employees (56%) think their current company has a gender-neutral approach to staffing and culture, however, new research has shown that over one in six (17%) think their workplace is still biased towards men. 

The study, compiled by online printing specialists instantprint, surveyed 2,000 UK employees on their perceptions regarding their current workplace and how gender neutral they believe the approach to staff, comms, and working culture to be.  

Naturally, others disagree, and the findings showed that amongst those that do, it’s more common for workers to believe their workplace is male-orientated than female-orientated. 

One in six (16%) believed their company culture is biased towards men compared to less than ten percent (9%) saying it’s more female-centric.  

And the difference in perception varies by gender, too. In fact, more women (17%) believe their workplace to be more male orientated, than men do (14%). 

Exploring the difference in opinions across UK industries, those in the accountancy, banking and finance sectors were the most likely to believe their company approaches staffing and culture in a non-gender-biased way (70%). 

This was closely followed by those working in leisure, sports and tourism (68%) and public services and administration (64%). 

In contrast, those employed within industries such as transport and logistics were less likely to believe this, even though over half of workers in this field (52%) thought that was the case. 

In order to have a diverse workforce and pool of candidates, experts believe it’s key to be aware of the unconscious gender biases that may affect recruitment and company culture.  
Studies have shown that gender-coded language may affect how appealing job adverts can be to candidates of the opposite gender and how each candidate feels they ‘belong’ in that occupation.  

It’s worth noting that, according to the study, this seemingly affects women more than men – when faced with strongly masculine-coded job adverts, women were more likely to feel like they ‘didn’t belong’ in that role, while in the opposite scenario this only slightly affected how appealing male candidates found the role. 

With this in mind, instantprint also sought to discover whether the language used in job adverts in top UK companies is geared towards a specific gender, or if it’s neutral enough not to ‘discourage’ candidates.  

Working closely with smarter job search engine, Adzuna, the printing specialists used a gendered language decoder tool in order to analyse wording used in job adverts for various roles, across all levels, in some of the top companies from the FTE 100.), finding just 4% were using gender-neutral language. Due to the tool being based on a study that didn’t take into consideration non-binary individuals, data for this category hasn’t been recorded. 

Interestingly, their findings revealed that just 4% were using gender-neutral language.  

An overwhelming majority (70%) was found to be using feminine-coded language, while just a fifth (19%) seemed to be geared towards men.  

Of these, 59% used strongly feminine-coded wording, while just 10% seemed to strongly target male candidates. 

Examining the findings on an industry level, it seems job adverts for teaching-related roles are currently the most geared towards women, with all postings in this area using feminine-coded language, followed by HR/Admin (80%).  

This seems to be partly reflected by the gender split of workers holding positions in these areas, too. 

Analysing data from NOMIS, a service provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the study found women hold more than two thirds (68%) of the roles within the teaching industry, and 72% of administrative positions at present. 

Surprisingly, the analysis of job adverts language revealed the third sector with the highest percentage of female-coded ads was IT and Engineering, with 72% of the ads using feminine-coded language.  

In this sector, according to NOMIS data, women hold just 22% of the roles currently, but according to recent reports, some STEM subjects are growing in popularity amongst female students, which could represent a huge opportunity to diversify the UK workforce in these fields once they start their careers. 

Mandy Watson, Managing  Director of recruitment experts Ambitions Personnel, shared her insight on the topic: “The use of gendered language in job adverts is one of the key factors that needs to be addressed when removing bias from onboarding procedures.  

“We all know it’s direct discrimination and illegal to advertise a job looking exclusively for male or female candidates – but the use of gendered language, which can be subtle and happen unconsciously, is still rife. The benefits of having a diverse workforce are vast. In the current climate, employers should be doing everything they can to encourage applications from across the talent pool.  

“We recommend employers use some of the free gender decoder tools available online and review adverts before posting. These tools score job adverts, checking the pronouns you use to ensure no bias. Reviewing and differentiating between the essentials and the desirables is key – research has shown men are more likely to apply for roles where they meet less of the criteria, as opposed to women. Writing a long ‘must-have list’ might not serve.”