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A FTSE 100 CEO points out a big problem with job ads for women

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Photo: Rex/Getty
Photo: Rex/Getty

Women are discouraged from applying for jobs in male-dominated industries because of “restrictive” advertisements, according to one of the UK’s youngest female CEOS.

Liv Garfield, CEO of water company Severn Trent (SVT.L), said that women don’t apply for jobs because of “must have” skills lists that ask for experience specific to that industry.

“Often, lots of women don’t have the confidence to think, ‘Do I match all of those boxes?’ If they don’t match all the boxes, they immediately, almost, don’t apply. They cross themselves off the list,” she said.

READ MORE: How to get that high-paying job you really want

Some have suggested that large companies in the water, construction and rail industries take advantage of the fact that asking for specific experience can reduce the number of women candidates for roles.

Garfield recommended that companies change their hiring processes to create a more diverse workplace and increase skill sets. Severn Trent job adverts ask for skills and abilities that could be gained through a number of jobs or activities outside work, in order to attract a range of applicants.

On top of this, Garfield’s firm “blind marks” CVs — removing names, gender and race from applications so as not to influence the hiring process.

READ MORE: Why are men more likely to be business owners that women in Britain

With half of Severn Trent’s 87,000 water customers across Wales being women, Garfield said it was crucial to get more women working in the water industry.

“If people can see that somebody has walked in those footprints or they can look up and see there is a role model there, it often gives people confidence,” she added. “It’s not that they couldn’t have done it, it’s just tricky being a trailblazer.”

Data from information technology company Hewlett-Packard shows that men often apply for jobs when they only meet 60% of the requirements, whereas women apply only if they meet 100% of them. Experts have attributed this difference to women’s lack of confidence and men’s overconfidence in their respective abilities.

READ MORE: Top women in business share their best advice

But this isn’t the only thing preventing women from putting themselves forward for top jobs. Earlier this year, augmented software writing company Texito found the inclusion of certain “masculine” words in advertisements can deter female candidates.

When Ryan Miles, owner of plant hire business Miles Hire, worked with gender quality charity Chwarae Teg to attract more women to its roles, one of the things he focused on was the wording of job adverts.

“We changed a lot of the wording in the description of the jobs to make it more appealing to all candidates,” he said. “We also changed the silhouette to make it both male and female in the job applications, and that seemed to work very well to bring in different types of candidates.”

Miles said that before the changes, 90% of applicants for roles were men, but now the split is 50-50.

READ MORE: It will take 108 years to close the global gender gap

To listen to more workplace tips, download Yahoo Presents Its a Jungle Out There podcast on Apple Podcasts, ACast, or Google podcasts to listen while on the go.

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