Knowit is keen to raise awareness of its own organisation in terms of equality and unconscious partiality – so-called “bias”. A balanced equality regime means that there is always an awareness of the cultural journey the company is participating in and the cultural changes the organisation is looking for. We face challenges as regards equality, related to gender, ethnicity and minorities. The project is particularly relevant when it comes to recruitment and career development. We believe that Knowit is neither better nor worse than others, but we choose to share the experiences we have had in our project.

“We call the project Genus, and it’s about a major change initiative at the Group level that transcends national boundaries and encompasses different companies. All Knowit companies are giving the project high priority, and all senior and middle management in the Nordic region are carrying out a number of workshops. We also use our own expertise in innovation, change processes, culture and structure under the guidance of our own management advisors and organisational psychologists. The initiative creates ‘aha’ experiences, and stimulates us in both our HR work and our recruitment”, says CEO Per Wallentin.

"Bias is to disproportionately and unconsciously arouse a sense of being for or against a thing, person or group when compared with another – and usually in a way that is deemed unfair."

Research shows that we are a long way from the conscious rational and independent beings we would like to believe we are. A “bias” is an unconscious psychological pattern that causes a person's subjective image of the outside world to deviate from reality. The result is an unconscious assessment of certain individuals as being inferior to others, without there being any difference in their performance.

In this article, we take up the issue of gender awareness between women and men. We are aware that not everyone identifies themselves according to binary gender roles, and hope that everyone is able to recognise themselves in the article.

Our ambition is to develop
• a modern workplace with an inclusive climate where employees are recruited, thrive and develop their careers.
• a leadership that is inclusive.
• managers and staff to be ambassadors for ensuring that an equal workplace is the best workplace
• a recruitment process that better responds to equality issues.
• increased cooperation and more efficient use of common experience and competence
• zero tolerance and proactive action against harassment and discrimination

"Research shows that women usually seek a job only when they feel they meet all the recruitment requirements. Men, on the other hand, are looking for positions where they only meet about 50-60 percent of the requirements."

"Norway is already equal". Note!

About two out of three Norwegian senior managers are men and in Norwegian municipalities, the distribution of men and women is about 60/40.

85% of men work full time. Only 63% of women do so.

Women earn 88% of men’s wages

Women spend 50 minutes more on housework than men. Every day.

60% of those with higher education are women!

"When women get home from work, their stress levels go up. For men it's the opposite.”

The Genus project is making us more aware
“Different gender roles create different expectations, and the Genus project is teaching us to become more aware of our own ‘bias’. That is to say, the way in which we evaluate men and women differently. In this work, we want to contribute avoiding immediate traps in, for example, recruitment processes. And this how we can work towards greater gender-conscious recruitment and career development, as well as create proper opportunities regardless of gender”, says Helena Tronner, Organisational Psychologist at Knowit.

Women place greater demands on themselves
“This is about our socialisation process, where women to a greater extent than men relate to an image of being perfect, while men relate to one of taking greater risks than do women. This means that we act differently at the group level. Furthermore, there is a difference between women and men in their levels of self-confidence, where men tend to overestimate their abilities by up to 30 percent, while women often assess themselves a little more strictly than how they actually perform”, says Helena. “And added to that, we know that men and women receive education at different levels and choose different subjects. At the same time, we see that women are increasingly choosing male-dominated subjects in higher education.

You get what you ask for – language decides
In environments dominated by men, great use is made of masculine rhetoric, and research shows that this appears repulsive to female candidates. Likewise, we know that feminine rhetoric actually attracts both sexes.

“In addition, women are often more value-oriented than men, and are attracted to messages that emphasise more than the role to be filled. For example, context, group, culture and value base have greater importance”, says Helena. “Communicating ‘gender-consciousness’ doesn’t have to be complicated; we just need to become more aware of how to reach out to everyone – regardless of gender or minority group.”

Many are employed via networks – then we lose talent
“Men's and women's networks look quite different. Men's networks comprise mostly men and are both social and work-related. Women, on the other hand, often have two separate networks; a social one with mostly women and a work-related one that may be mixed. So we run the risk of only looking for talent in our own network.”

“As many as 7 out of 10 are employed via networks. Recruitment based on networks can give faster results. But it can also contribute to our losing candidates.”

Our 6 Tips for Gender-Conscious Recruitment
1. Set an equality goal. Set a clear goal for gender and recruitment at the company level. Reflect upon the numbers of men and women in the organisation, but also over the distribution of different roles and levels, and whether specific roles are “gender-earmarked”, that is, expecting a person of a particular gender.
2. Utilise skills. Employ recruiters of both sexes throughout the recruitment process. If you work with external recruitment companies, choose an organisation with gender expertise. It increases the chances of finding female candidates.
3. Work proactively. Have a pipeline of candidates in the loop, both for the short and long term. Keep track of relevant female candidates and work proactively to recruit them further down the track.
4. Have a clear process. A concrete and formalised recruitment process is a way of ensuring equality at all phases.
5. Use a gender-conscious language. If you want a balance between male and female applicants, use feminine rhetoric and describe the relationship between the role, the business, the goal and the value base.
6. Networking is good, but be careful. Recruitment based on networks can provide fast and spontaneous recruitment. But you can miss candidates because female networks are different networks to those of men.

Example of bias when recruiting
• The Halo Effect. When the entire image we have of a person is coloured by a single positive feature or achievement.
• The Devil Effect. When, instead, we allow one property that we consider less positive or desirable, to colour how we rate a person.
• Confirmation Bias. We become selective and take note of the information or impressions that confirm what we already think we know and ignore what goes against our own opinion.
• Stereotype. To add people’s characteristics based on their own associations and beliefs rather than objective, actual relationships. Women are attributed with characteristics that men think they have.
• Equality Effect. We favour people in our own image. Men have a preference for men.

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