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Women as job perks: is this e-quality?

26 July 2013

Equality, diversity and recruitment do not always go hand in hand for some employers. Take the job advert that caused a storm of bad press for an event organising business recently.

The company used a list of 10 things they were offering to "tempt you from your desk". Number 8 on the list was "4X female French, Italian and Spanish junior / front and backend developers".

When things began to backfire after an angry reaction to the sexist job posting, the company's CEO tried various tactics to deflect the bad press. These included stating that he was merely making a point that the company was an equal opportunity employer and claiming that the ad was a "social experiment" to generate a reaction and that the company doesn't actually have the female employees mentioned.

The issue of gender equality is a hot topic in the technology industry, a survey earlier this year provided some interesting insights as it looked into why the technology industry is so male dominated. The survey conducted by Elance, showed that two of the biggest reasons given by both male and female respondents were a lack of female role models and industry stereotypes.

Many of the women freelancers who were surveyed stated that there were more opportunities for them when seeking work through an online hiring service such as Elance; the difference being that factors such as gender and physical appearance do not come into play in this model.

The issue of a lack of senior level role models for women is something of a 'catch 22', as women in the industry who are in senior positions typically have a tough time. At a Yahoo! shareholders' meeting one shareholder felt it acceptable to comment on CEO Marissa Mayer's appearance when he took the stage, telling her she looked "attractive."

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When Julie Larson-Green was recently appointed head at Microsoft's Xbox division, the internet was peppered with offensive sexist comments with no relevance to her suitability for the job, for example; "Just another empty skirt that wants to be macho".

There is a lesson here that is not exclusive to the technology industry. Any company that wishes to create a workforce and workplace culture that will have positive impacts on brand and productivity cannot be blind to the need for an HR strategy that encompasses equality and diversity principles. Although most companies would not use such a maverick and misguided approach when trying to recruit, the story here is not simply about avoiding embarrassment. Businesses need to be aware of the benefits of a diverse workforce and the risks of not addressing equality issues.

HR outsourcing services can help your organisation focus on strategy and develop policies to support your equality and diversity goals. By using an HR outsourcing service you will gain the outside perspective which can be important in determining potential risks and areas for development. Your business will also benefit from a wealth of knowledge and expertise provided by specialists.

iHR Australia provides HR outsourcing and support services which take a holistic approach and can be tailored to suit your organisation's needs.

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