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How to Write Unbiased, Inclusive Job Descriptions

How to Write Unbiased, Inclusive Job Descriptions

Whether you are writing a job description, social job ad, email, text message or video job ad script, it is important that each and every communication is unbiased and inclusive. This begins with unbiased, inclusive job descriptions that attract a wide range of highly qualified—and diverse—candidates.

Follow these writing tips to ensure every qualified candidate feels welcome to apply:

  1. Eliminate gender-coded language
  2. Be aware of (and avoid) gender bias
  3. Get rid of racial bias
  4. Be welcoming to older workers
  5. Make your organisation inclusive for disabled workers

You will not only deepen your candidate pool, you will reap the rewards of a diverse and inclusive workplace.

1. 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 biased language in job descriptions with 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.

2. Avoid Gender Bias

According to a Hewlett Packard Internal Report, women will typically only apply for a job if they meet 100 percent of the qualifications. To avoid unconscious gender bias deterring women from applying to your jobs, consider eliminating requirements that are not essential to create more inclusive job descriptions.

If the position is one where training can easily be provided, do not ask for experience on software. Generalise areas where transferable skills are acceptable, and clearly outline which qualifications are required and which are preferred.

3. Eliminate Racial Bias

Like gender bias, racial bias can be implicit, and often is unknowingly perpetuated by recruitment professionals. Paying careful attention to the 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.

4. Win Over Experienced Workers

Workers ages 50 and older comprise more than one-third of the workforce. Some best practices for avoiding age discrimination and creating inclusive job descriptions include making sure your employer branding reflects a wide range of the age of workers at your company. Also, do not ask for university grades or standardised test scores—it implies that only recent graduates are being considered.

Additionally, avoid biased language in job descriptions like:

  • “Young and energetic”
  • “Party atmosphere”
  • “work hard/play hard”
  • “Digital native”
  • “Calling all recent college graduates!”
  • “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!”

5. 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 inclusive 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 is not always necessary”, try “Access to reliable transportation,” which is more inclusive to people with disabilities.

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. Monster is here to help you create an inclusive workplace and recruit the right people in order to build, and keep, the best workforce possible. Learn more about how you can post a job for free today.