National Employment Savings Trust, London, appointed five women to data analytics internships after it removed gender-biased language from its job descriptions.
The £17.2 billion ($23.9 billion) multiemployer retirement plan ran job descriptions for new data analytics internships through a gender bias tool, showing that 95% of the words used were masculine — despite the internships being open to anyone. By changing the wording and using gender-neutral and outcome-focused language, all applicants to the roles were women. The exercise formed part of NEST's work to help bring more women into the male-dominated data analytics sector.
The five interns are from the University of Manchester, England, and were hired for eight-week paid internships. Job descriptions were posted in April, interviews took place in May and June and the internships begin on June 28, a spokeswoman said.
The women will be responsible for developing and building NEST's data analytics capabilities. Plan executives are building a "data community" to maximize its resources and are focusing on a program of customer service design using data. Interns will work with a mentor, data expert and a NEST specialist acting as an end-user.
Christina Finlay, NEST's director of data and analytics, has had a long career in data analytics and has been aware in previous roles of "gendered language used in many job ads," a spokeswoman said in an email. Ms. Finlay wanted to see whether using gender-neutral language would attract a wider range of candidates.
Ms. Finlay now intends on using the lessons from this round of appointments for other internships and data analytics roles.
At a NEST-wide level, executives have already changed the recruitment and selection policy to ensure there are gender-balanced interview panels at every stage. It has also recently procured a recruitment platform that anonymizes resumes, reduces the potential for unconscious bias in the hiring process and provides detailed reporting that can help to instill future improvements, the spokeswoman added.
"Changing the demographic of an industry takes action from all sides — encouraging women to apply for our data analytics internships is just one step, but we believe it's the first step on a journey to move data analytics from a very masculine world, to one which more accurately reflects the world we live in," Ms. Finlay added in a NEST news release.
NEST worked on the initiative to open up data analytics to women with part of the University of Manchester, which aims to make quantitative social sciences in the U.K. more accessible.