Three Important Tips You Should Know To Hire Diverse

Birgit Pohl
9 min readMay 20, 2021

From creating a job description to the interview and the onboarding process, diverse hiring seems difficult for most tech companies.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Let me give you some tips I have collected to guide the male-dominated environment in a diverse direction.

Let’s get one thing straight. Diverse does not mean that women only are meant. It means many things. Gender is not binary and besides that, you find topics such as sexual orientation, culture, religion, ethnicity, and other factors.

So you want to hire diverse? Let’s start from the beginning:

Job Description

The job description belongs to the employer branding and when I mention employer branding, I hope you don’t stop building it by only writing a nice-to-read job description.

Mention Salary Range

You will attract candidates of all backgrounds and this is good.

Stackoverflow has created an experiment on LinkedIn using ads. They have created the same job, one with stating the salary on the ad and the other not. They have experienced an increased click-through rate on the job post with the salary open.

Candidates have a better chance to evaluate if it makes sense to apply or not. This means on your side, that you will save time and use the time with candidates who a truly interested in your job and don’t end up taking the other job, because it pays better.

Some candidates also think it might make sense to negotiate and to proceed with the interview process with a salary range:

“If the job involves skills I haven’t built yet, I’m worth a lot less than if it takes skills I’m a rare expert in. You tell me what you think I’m worth and what you can afford. I can only tell you what it would take to convince me to do your job, and unless you’ve already told me about the job, I might not even be able to do that.” — Candidate

Focus On A Few Skills

Select a few skills. No candidate knows everything and we all know about the book “The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assuranceand about the Gender Confidence Gap, which tells us, women are less likely to apply. Hesitant as they are in this case, they feel they need to meet all of the requirements.

Points out max. 3 important skills and everything else is a nice-to-have and can be learned.

Place Soft Skills Before The Hard Skills

To attract empathic people, who do care about how they appear towards other people, place the soft skills first. You will also attract diverse people and you will see, even men will write you and tell you how much they appreciate you placed the soft skills first.

Emphasize Feminine Words

Many job descriptions are written competitively. As humans, we have learned to connect certain words with a certain gender. Competitive job descriptions attract mostly men and distract women, keeping them away. If you like to hire diverse, emphasize feminine words and you will see, you will attract women and people from other diverse backgrounds.

Here is a small collection of feminine words:

compassionate, loyal, committed, understanding, empathic, collaborates, sensitive, warm, honest, inclusive, share, responsibilities, support, commitment, affectionate

Imagine, I have used all of these words in a job description and you can find it reading a bit further.

User A Gender Decoder

If you need some help, this is not a problem. Analyze your job description with a gender decoder. The following decoder is pretty awesome because it analyzes your words and lists all masculine and feminine words. You exactly know which sentence and wording to tackle.

Check out this job description I re-wrote for a company. I have gotten feedback from the Softskill Engineering community.

“I like this job ad and it makes me want to apply; I like that it focuses on the soft skills above the technical skills (the latter of which IMO everyone has to do some on the job learning for anyways).” — cxiao


Perks such as gym membership or a fruit plate are not so interesting for women. Think about, what most women hold back from applying to you? It’s the fear of not being hired because she has a family to take care of. Some of the possible really useful perks would be flexible work and support for daily child care.

For ex-pats settling down in a new environment is extremely stressful. Assist them in every way you can. Start with supporting them getting the Visa, support them moving and finding a new permanent home. Support them also with learning the language and support them with making them feel comfortable by introducing them to cool places to meet new local friends and introduce them to the local environment by showing them where interesting events are.

Head Of Diversity

The Head Of People is just another word for human resource manager. I suggest trying it with a real Head of Diversity. Someone who actually cares about women, non-binary, different religions and cultures, ethnicities, economical backgrounds, etc. Someone, who is not a human resource manager and their only responsibility is diversity.

“I would never apply for a company that does not have a Head of Diversity.” — A transgender person once said to me.

People of diversity are more likely to apply for your company when you initiate the position of Head of Diversity and have someone who takes care of the everyday diverse well-being of the employees.

State in your job description, that you have a Head of Diversity.

Equal Opportunity Statement

Many companies have added that to their job description to emphasize that they offer an equal opportunity for everyone. I honestly give more credit to what people are doing instead of what they are saying, but it doesn’t hurt to add it to your job description to emphasize, that you include awareness programs in your company.

“We’re an equal opportunity employer. All applicants will be considered for employment without attention to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, veteran or disability status.”
Equal Opportunity Statement

Remove Unconcious Bias During The Interview

The next step is the interview and this is where the next round of diversity will be filtered out due to unconscious bias. Why is this so important? Because we often hear:

“We just look for the best and those include women!” — every second company I interview

Again, I care about what people do and not what they say. For a simple reason: We humans grew up with a certain worldview we have been taught. This worldview includes a certain bias towards women, different cultures, different religions, and all other people who are different. This means that the sentence above is wrong per default. Since we have a social problem, this problem is not non-existent in your company.

Sometimes giving a diverse person the benefit of the doubt will benefit your company culture. It is not only about your diverse person to perform, it is also about creating a culture that is so comfortable, that even your white male people feel comfortable and can focus on their actual work instead of competing with other white male people.

Some laws and discussions say, that you should not prefer one group over the other. But I think that we should collect and check the facts rather than relying on some opinions in some cases. Here I trust you to do it.

Personal Questions

Personal questions such as “How many children do you have?” or “Don’t you have a wife who takes care of your kids?” are questions that don’t concern any employer and are also forbidden to ask in some countries. Yet they are being asked, even in countries, where there is a law about them.

Why is it so important, that you still think about what you are going to ask and why you should consider working on building trust with your employees?

In the beginning, I wrote that your employer branding doesn’t stop at the job description and it also would not stop here. You want to make sure, that you attract the best candidates and the best candidates can only be attracted if they know that you will be treating them well and humanely.

If you ask the diverse group personal questions, it can be that they won’t tell you this right away into your face. Since many of them are part of a group that doesn’t come with competitive testosterone, they will solve problems a different way: They will simply silently not join your company and delightfully reject your offer.

Not getting feedback is feedback too.

Promotion vs Prevention

We are asking men to win and women not to lose, which gives us different perceptions of how men and women appear. If we ask the right questions, no matter if we choose to ask them, men or women, we can make the person feel good or bad. But we tend to ask women more preventional questions, which leads them to feel bad and to defend themselves and this in return will lead us to notice that they have nothing to offer.

I call this self-fulfilling prophecy.

What Are Promotional And Preventional Questions?

Here are some examples:

Promotion: What's your long-term vision?
Prevention: What do you constantly worry about the most?

Promotion: What does success look like to you?
Prevention: What do you think is your biggest barrier to success?

How can you create a better interview experience?

Create a list of questions and as soon as you realize you have a preventional question among them, turn them into a promotional question. Make the list available to your colleagues, who also lead interviews.

Hide Names In Evaluations

Hide the name and any personal data when evaluating the CV or a test, such as a homework assignment. This will remove any unwanted unconscious bias even from people, who are aware of it.

Not only will you hide biases in the range of names of white male people, but you will be removing the potential for biases when it comes to female-sounding names or names that sound culturally different.

In Germany, the most successful first-name on the board of directors of DAX companies are Thomas, Michael, Stefan und Christian and the number of these people still exceeds the number of women on the board of directors.

Here is a list for you so that you can imagine, what I mean:

In 2018: 56 women in relation to 60 Thomas/Michael have been on the board of directors in DAX companies.

In 2019: 66 women in relation to 58 Thomas/Michael have been on the board of directors in DAX companies.

In 2020: 68 women in relation to 47 Thomas/Michael have been on the board of directors in DAX companies.
— Together with Stefan it is 69 men which makes it more than women


So, whenever it is possible, create a neutral application process and help your evaluator to make the right choices.

Increase Awareness – Reduce Bias

Communicating with people who don’t fit the description of male and white works differently.

  • We often tell women, that they need to speak up, but at the same time they should not speak up so loudly.
  • We also tell women to be more assertive, but then we tell them at the same time to “just be nice”.
  • We ask women to join a company because they hold certain expertise, but then we don’t want to listen to them.

And this of course counts for every person, who has less testosterone than men or doesn’t play them out in a competitive way.

So, it is time to reduce the bias, even for people, who say “I don’t have a problem with women.”, but do act as if they have a general problem with them.

Coaching And Training

To keep your diversity, it is important to train yourself and your employees and to increase awareness for unconscious bias.

There are many ways how you can tackle these challenges:

  • From the perspective of psychology: Where did I learn the way how I communicate with women and how did I learn to view women the way I do?
  • Communication: It is possible to train oneself and other people without looking into one’s own past and simply change habits.
  • Create a different way of working: Encourage but not force more silent people to speak and give them space to show their skills. Sometimes it is just a matter of perspectives of how we see a different person.
    Give diverse people the chance to feel comfortable and develop their identity. Sometimes people will create their own mission to help the company become the best diverse working place. Encourage it!

To Sum Up

We have talked about the job description, the interview, and the working environment, but it doesn’t stop there and you probably know it. I encourage you to find new ways to make your company a second family for your employees.



Birgit Pohl

Your leadership coach and knowledge curator | | @devbirgit 📸 Instagram, 🐦 Twitter, 🎥 Tiktok