How to write more inclusive job descriptions
Whether you’re writing a job description, social job ad, email, text message or video job ad script, it’s important that each and every communication is unbiased and inclusive. Follow these writing tips to ensure every qualified candidate feels welcome to apply. You’ll not only deepen your candidate pool, you’ll reap the rewards of a diverse and inclusive workplace.
Remove Gender-Coded Words
If candidates assume the role is more suited for the opposite gender, you might be missing out on qualified candidates. The best way to avoid this common mistake is to avoid words that are typically understood to be coded for a male or female audience. Below are some common variations of gender-coded words.
Female-Coded Words: agree, empath, sensitive, affectionate, feel, support, collaborate, honest, trust, commit, interpersonal, understand, compassion, nurture, and share.
Male-Coded Words: aggressive, confident fearless, ambitious, decisive, head-strong, assertive, defend, independent, battle, dominant, outspoken, challenge, driven and superior.
Avoid Gender Bias
According to a Hewlett Packard Internal Report, women will typically only apply for a job if they meet 100% of the qualifications. To avoid unconscious gender bias deterring women from applying to your jobs, consider eliminating requirements that are not essential. If the position is one where training can easily be provided, don’t ask for experience on software. Generalize areas where transferable skills are okay, and clearly outline which qualifications are required and which are preferred.
Eliminate Racial Bias
Like gender bias, racial bias can be implicit, and oftentimes is unknowingly perpetuated by recruitment professionals. But some careful attention to words and phrases used can help eliminate implicit and explicit bias. Here are some suggestions:
When writing communications:
- Never mention race or national origin.
- Phrases like, “strong English-language skills” may deter qualified non-native English speakers from applying.
- A “clean-shaven” requirement can exclude candidates whose faith requires them to maintain facial hair (it also indicates the position is for men only)
When reviewing candidates:
- Avoid “Cultural Fit” and focus on “Value Alignment”
- Limit referral hiring, and go beyond your network
- Don’t waiver from the qualifications for a select few
- Ask everyone the same set of interview questions
Win Over Experienced Workers
Workers ages 50 and older comprise roughly 35% of the workforce, according to a report from Human Resource Executive. Some best practices for avoiding age discrimination include making sure your employer branding reflects a wide range of the age of workers at your company. Also, don’t ask for GPA or SAT scores – it implies that only recent grads are being considered.
Additionally, avoid phrasing like:
- “Young and energetic”
- “Party atmosphere”
- “work hard/play hard”
- “Digital native”
- “Calling all recent college grads!”
- “Athletic” or “athletically inclined”
- “No more than X years of experience”
- “Junior” or ”Senior” except as part of a job title
- “Supplement your retirement income!”
Be Inclusive of Disabled Workers
Make sure your job postings are welcoming to workers of all abilities by advertising when there are accommodations like flexible hours or telework policies that would appeal to disabled workers.
Let applicants know your workplace welcomes and values all candidates with phrasing like: “Ability to complete tasks with or without reasonable accommodations.” Instead of writing “Access to you own vehicle isn’t always necessary”, try “Access to reliable transportation,” which is more inclusive to people with disabilities. See our chart below for other inclusive language considerations:
Lay the Groundwork for a More Inclusive Workplace
If your workforce is monocultural and lacking in diversity, your company is less likely to succeed. Writing more inclusive job descriptions can certainly help, but cultivating a more inclusive and diverse workplace requires awareness and efforts that may not be that obvious. We’re here to help. Access our free expert resources on creating an inclusive workplace and recruiting the right people in order to build, and keep, the best workforce possible.