How to Write Inclusive Job Descriptions

Inclusive Job Descriptions

Corporate culture evolves naturally and is shaped by the dedicated individuals and teams driving it forward. This is true across all parts of an organization, from business development to advancing diversity and inclusion. The efficiency of such initiatives—and, consequently, the overall success of your organization—depends on the people driving them. This underlines the importance of…

Corporate culture evolves naturally and is shaped by the dedicated individuals and teams driving it forward. This is true across all parts of an organization, from business development to advancing diversity and inclusion.

The efficiency of such initiatives—and, consequently, the overall success of your organization—depends on the people driving them. This underlines the importance of securing the appropriate candidate for each role, and the journey to ensuring the right talent starts with well-crafted, inclusive job descriptions.

The Impact of Language

Language is a powerful tool that can subtly shape perceptions and biases. Even seemingly innocent word choices in your job descriptions can send unintended messages that deter certain applicants.

Imagine a job description that says, “He will design, code, and test across our distributed, open-source database.” This language may discourage female talents from applying, as it implies the role is tailored to men. To create a more inclusive atmosphere, use gender-neutral language like “You will design, code, and test,” which welcomes everyone.

Words like “rockstar” can signal a male-dominated culture and discourage female applicants. Even phrases like “work hard, play hard” or “ambitious” can have gendered connotations. You can foster a more inclusive environment by choosing words associated with collaboration, cooperation, and support.

How to Write Inclusive Job Descriptions?

Avoid Gender-Coded Words

To write inclusive job descriptions, it’s essential to eliminate gender-coded words and phrases that unconsciously lean towards specific genders.

  • Replace gender-coded words with neutral alternatives. For example, instead of using s/he, you can use phrases such as “The role requires”, and “The responsibilities are”.
  • Be mindful of words that may make the job description biased towards one gender. “We’re looking for someone dedicated” is better than using words such as “Ambitious”.
  • There are many resources and tools available to help you avoid gender-coded words. You can use the Gender Decoder from MIT, which allows you to check your draft.

Reevaluate Your Requirements

Re-check and revise your requirements to make sure no unnecessary wording is used.

  • Cut down the use of “must-have” requirements unless it’s necessary.
  • Use “familiarity with” or “bonus points for” to soften requirements.
  • When seeking a senior role, focus on experience instead of a specific type.
  • If you’re looking for an entry-level position, give more importance to work ethic, which encourages the skilled candidate and the hard-working talents who might not have all the required skills.

Encourage a Larger Crowd

Encouraging diversity and giving more value to experience and skills will allow you to select from a larger talent pool.

  • Stating that you need someone “young and energetic” may discourage older and disabled candidates with more experience and could add more value.
  • Use languages that convey the right message to your candidates. For instance, if the job requires lifting heavy weights, instead of “We need someone active and strong”, write “The role requires lifting this amount of weight,” which clearly states only the requirement avoiding any biases.
  • Focus more on the necessary skillset instead of relying on buzzwords such as “guru”.

Avoid Jargon and Corporate Speak

Avoid including complicated corporate language in your job description.

  • Maintain a balance between professional and casual communication.
  • Avoid jargon, saying, “We require an individual capable of seamlessly navigating among many stakeholders across various SaaS platforms.” This may sound professional to some, but it can confuse most and even drive away the right candidate. You can replace this with, “You will need to communicate with different teams and people using different forms of communication”.

Showcasing Company Commitment & Benefits

Show how your company encourages and welcomes inclusivity.

  • Explicitly Express Values. Communicate your organization’s dedication to diversity and inclusion directly in job descriptions.
  • Promote Well-Being. Emphasize inclusive benefits such as parental leave, flexible work arrangements, and childcare support. Share your organizational policy of parental and childcare.

Be Open to Feedback

Keep an open mind and seek feedback.

  • Continuous Improvement is critical. Emphasize the ongoing nature of creating inclusive job descriptions.
  • Encourage regular feedback and review to refine job descriptions and align with diversity goals.
  • Diverse Perspectives go a long way. Involve underrepresented talent in the revision process to ensure inclusivity resonates with a broad audience.

Do’s and Don’ts of Job Titles

DoDon’t
Eliminate gender-coded language.Use phrases like s/he that lean towards specific genders.
Soften requirements using inclusive language.Rely heavily on “must-have” requirements.
Focus on experience and skills, not age.State that you need someone “young and energetic.”
Make job descriptions accessible to all candidates.Use industry-specific terms that might alienate diverse candidates.
Highlight inclusive benefits like parental leave.Overlook inclusive benefits that support diverse employees.
Emphasize the ongoing nature of improvement.Treat job descriptions as static documents.
Seek feedback and involve underrepresented talent.Make job description revisions without considering diverse perspectives.

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