So many things have changed in the past year, and more and more agencies are realizing that taking steps to make your agency more inclusive both from a family and a candidate perspective is no longer a nice-to-have or something to do ‘whenever there is time’. While we are all aware that the majority of households we work with are currently comprised of two-parent households with a female and a male parent, and a majority of the candidates who apply to work with us in nanny positions currently identify as female, more and more agencies are taking steps towards making their verbiage and process more inclusive. Inclusivity and ensuring all people are felt welcomed when they encounter your business not only ensures you will attract a diverse pool of candidates and families, but also that more and more families and candidates are paying attention to diversity and inclusion and using it as a primary reasoning when selecting businesses to interact with! More than two thirds of millennials stated diversity as a deciding factor when choosing a company to work with – and these days, many of our clients as well as many of our candidates are in the millennial age range.
Here are a few simple steps your agency can take to ensure you are not alienating anyone from your marketing and recruitment efforts!
Use gender-neutral language.
Review the language on your website, contracts, forms, applications, resources, and blogs, and eliminate moments where you refer to a family as a ‘mother and father’, or where you refer to a nanny as exclusively female. While a majority of your applicants may be female, and a majority of your families may be coming from two-parent households, using gendered language or assuming every family that reaches out will be comprised of a mom and a dad, and/or if there’s a stay-at-home parent, it’s ‘the mom’, you are accidentally signaling many families (including divorced or widowed parents, single parents by choice, same-sex couples and other family makeups) that you are unable or unwilling to support their family. Similarly, ‘nanny’ is a gender-neutral term and if you are only advertising ‘manny’ positions for families that let you know they would prefer a male candidate, you run the risk of alienating male candidates from your other positions – not to mention a potentially very nasty discrimination lawsuit and damaging your reputation.
Avoid ownership language, like ‘our nannies’ or ‘your nanny.’
In the wake of the murder of George Floyd and so many other Black lives, there has been a renewed interest in looking into the history of the nannying industry and its roots in slavery. Using phrases like ‘my nannies’, ‘our candidates’ – or worse, ‘my girls’ – may roll off your tongue easily after years or even decades of use, but consider the roots of those terms and how the concept of owning or possessing another person is unfortunately not many years behind us in the history of the United States. As a referral agency, the candidates who choose to work with your agency are free to pursue jobs on their own, negotiate the terms of their contracts with families, and accept, reject, or leave any positions they choose. They are not ‘your nannies.’
Keep your process open to families of all types.
The TV show ‘Modern Family’ was a huge success, and received many accolades for the many different types of families it portrayed. At Adventure Nannies, over ⅓ of the families we’ve worked with in the past 2 years for newborn care specialist searches have been single parents by choice or families who were choosing to have a child via adoption or surrogacy. Keep in mind that the language you choose to use not only acts as a marketing tool, but can also act as a sign to excluded groups of people that they may not be in the right place, or speaking to the right agency. More and more, verbiage like ‘chestfeeding’ is used instead of ‘breastfeeding’ as not all parents who are feeding their baby have breasts! Use terminology like ‘welcoming your baby home’ or ‘your newborn’s arrival’ rather than ‘giving birth to your newborn’ or ‘your due date’ to ensure families who are welcoming a new family member into their home are not accidentally made to feel unwelcome. Failing to use inclusive language may accidentally be sending prospective clients the message that you don’t understand or respect their family make-up and will not be able to help them in their nanny search, or explain their family dynamic accurately to candidates.
Ensure your process is exactly the same for every candidate.
Have one clear point in your process where you are checking references and running a background check, and be sure your process does not encourage or require that candidates share EEO information that you as an agency are not able to base referral decisions off of. If you conduct social media screenings or background checks for different candidates at different parts of your search, ask yourself ‘why’. If you are skilled at tracking metrics, consider gathering data on your candidates to analyze with your recruitment and vetting team – for example, if 30% of your applicants are people of color but only 6% of the candidates you are sending to families are people of color, your team may unknowingly be bringing their own implicit bias into the work they are doing and making assumptions based on people’s names, images, or other information shared. Similarly, being able to view the average hourly rate your candidates are being paid may reveal that applicants from a protected class are making less per hour than other applicants, and your agency may decide to invest in creating some negotiation and fair standards information to share with candidates to assist them in advocating for themselves.
Don’t agree with parents who make discriminatory requests.
It’s important for potential families to feel comfortable and secure in their decision to trust you and your agency in running their nanny search – unfortunately, for some families their ‘comfort level’ also comes with discriminatory requests. Part of your role as a sales person is to empathize with your potential clients – however, do not empathize with families who are making discriminatory requests. If a family says “we wouldn’t feel comfortable with a male nanny in our home,” the appropriate response would be letting them know you heard them and explain the EEO rules your agency follows and your vetting process for candidates. Responding with “I completely understand, I would never hire a male nanny either” is inappropriate, unprofessional and could be construed as illegal based on the employment laws in your state. Failing to effectively shut down these discriminatory requests as they come up often cause the requests to spiral – if a family is comfortable discussing age, race or gender of candidates during an initial sales call, they are likely to gain comfort throughout their search and continue to make discriminatory comments and requests about age, their plans to have children, medical history, weight, attractiveness, and a myriad of other teeth-grinding and inappropriate ‘requests.’
Embrace and encourage diversity in the images you use and the candidates you highlight!
They say a picture says a thousand words – and in 2021, being ‘color blind’ is not an option. If you are committed to representing candidates of all shapes, ages, and sizes, they should be reflected in your marketing and social media presence! Take the time to dig a little deeper through stock photo sites, or hire a photographer to capture more natural moments highlighting your staff or candidates, if your feed and website are consistently showing 25-year-old 120-lb white nannies holding white babies – PLEASE! Families embrace authenticity and there is nothing that says “you don’t belong here” to a family or a candidate more than a barrage of images portraying families and nannies that look nothing like them across your online presence. Similarly, your office staff should reflect your candidate pool.
Glassdoor – What Job Seekers Really Think About Your Diversity and Inclusion Stats
LeanIn – Data About The Gender Pay Gap for Black Women
Forum One – Why and How to Prioritize DEI at Your Organization
Them – Gender-Neutral Pronouns and How to Use Them
About: Shenandoah Davis (she/her) is the CEO and co-founder of Adventure Nannies, a nationwide recruitment agency placing nannies, private educators, and newborn care specialists with families across the country. Adventure Nannies was founded in 2012 and received the APNA Excellence Award and Innovation Award in 2019. Shenandoah has served on the APNA Board of Directors since 2017 and is the chairperson of the board for Nanny Relief Fund. She lives in Tacoma, Washington.