A new study warned that resumes denoting gender-neutral pronouns that were submitted for entry-level jobs result in less engagement than resumes that do not include pronouns.
The result further advanced arguments against adding biographical information to resumes as anonymized applications have been shown to have more success.
Business.com published the result of its investigation into the impact of gender-nonconforming pronouns on an applicant’s chances during the hiring process. The publication sent 180 companies with an entry-level opening two identical resumes under the name “Taylor Williams.” One version of the resume has “they/them” pronouns listed in the header and the other did not.
The researchers reported that the resumes that included pronouns were 8% less likely to receive a response and generated fewer interviews or phone screening appointments than the resume without pronouns.
The study was modeled after a study conducted by the University of Chicago and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2003 designed to evaluate racial bias in hiring practices. The company opted not to send out resumes with “he/him” or “she/her” pronouns in order to gather further data on the impact of including pronouns on a resume.
“The law makes it clear that you cannot base any employment decision (hiring, terminating, or otherwise) based on their gender identity,” Ryan McGonagill, the director of industry research at Business.com and the report’s author, concluded while speaking with CNBC. “It’s incredibly disappointing and unethical that many of the hiring managers in our study would disqualify a candidate for being authentic.”
“Companies should have clearly-outlined initiatives and timelines for improving diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace,” McGonagill added. “On top of that, they should measure their employees’ sense of belonging. Investing in these efforts can only be positive for companies and team members alike.”
Multiple studies in recent years have found that biographical details do not increase the odds of getting an interview for a job opening or being hired.
Harvard Business Review found that anonymized resumes — those that did not include identifying details like names, age, race, or gender — resulted in increased hiring for “underrepresented groups.”
“Our recently published research confirms that anonymizing can mitigate gender bias in the review of scientific research applications,” wrote the researchers in 2020. “Specifically, we found that when indications of candidates’ gender (such as their first name) were removed from applications for time on the Hubble Space Telescope, women were selected at a higher rate than when their gender was obvious.”
Pinpoint, an online application tracking system, wrote in 2021 that “blind recruitment helps hiring teams to assess applicants exclusively on their suitability for the position and reduces the risk of conscious and unconscious bias.”
The results of Business.com’s resume study seem to indicate there is less workplace bias against transgender- or non-binary-identifying people than members of the minority group expect. According to the study, over 80% of people who self-identify as nonbinary reported they believe their job searches would be negatively impacted by their gender identities.
Blaire White, a transgender-identifying YouTube content creator, said resumes with “they/them” pronouns should be less appealing to hiring managers.
“Only a narcissist would be making unreasonable demands before they’re even hired, and it signals they will not only be a headache but a huge liability who will likely complain about literally everything,” tweeted White.