Do not hire me because I am a woman.
Diversity, gender-balance, gender quotas - the news is full; blogs, TV, radio, print and online press are ripe with thoughts, ideas and opinions on how women should be hired; or rather how many women should be hired.
As a female entrepreneur who has worked with people from all over the world, and has held various international director-level positions, I might not have had the same experience as those who say that they have been discriminated against. So, please do not take offence at what I am about to write.
Personally, I would rather not be hired if the reason for hiring me over someone else was that I happen to have the right gender. In fact, I would find that to be an insult. I remember, early in my career being told in a job interview that I was likely to get the job because I was female. My answer in the interview was straightforward: "If that is the case, I would rather not have the job.".
Recently, someone asked me to take on a certain role on a Board of trustees, because they felt it would be good to have a woman on the board. Again, while I appreciated the genuine desire to be inclusive, I did not appreciate being invited on the basis of my gender. Really, I would hope I had more to offer.
We need to hire people for what they bring to our teams in terms of skills, experience and unique characteristics. Yes, of course, it is possible that certain jobs lend themselves better to women and others might be better suited to men, however, we must look beyond our sex. Whatever type of person we are looking for to complement our team, let's make sure that we do not make superficial decisions, but use analysis, interviews, CVs and more to find the very best of talent, not simply fill a quota. Anything else is unprofessional and degrading.
What we need to invest more in, is education and the application process. Job descriptions and adverts - recruitment strategies - need to be designed so as to attract a diverse group of applicants, including women. Communicators and marketeers can help in this process by ensuring that collaterals and online communication have a mix of features which will attract both genders and people from all walks of life. We should start using colours, fonts and language which appeals to a variety of people and stop using a cookie-cutter approach. As HR professionals draw up job ads, they, too, need to think about male and female. Still, too often, we think of a personal assistant as female and a logistics manager as male. It is at this stage that we need to be inclusive, not at the actual hiring stage. Once it comes down to making a decision on who will fill the job, we must choose the most qualified and if we have advertised widely and inclusively, can do so without any qualms.
Our annual reports should not be filled with stats on numbers of women taking a role in the C-suite, but about real people, their unique characteristics, their abilities to encourage teams, their analytics skills, their go-get-attitudes and how we drive business as a result of bringing these unique talents together under one brand. Only then do we raise the bar, our business starts looking interesting and only then will it attract more talent. It tells the available workforce out there that our company is exciting and that real and people rather than quotas make a difference.
Let's get off the gender band-wagon and instead invest in attracting real people with real skills and talent, no matter what their background, culture, colour or gender.