How to write an inclusive job description

Content Team

An inclusive workplace fosters a sense of belonging, encourages authenticity and open communication, and supports the career growth of all employees, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, education, or background. This is a tall order, but many companies are working hard to improve inclusivity through shifts in company culture, leadership development, and employee education.

All too often, however, these efforts bypass the job description and seriously undermine inclusion as a result. Job descriptions are the initial touchpoint for a large segment of your prospective talent and where candidates get a ‘gut feeling’ about whether they’ll feel valued and welcome to be themselves at work. It’s increasingly clear that this matters, and not just to minority groups. A 2017 Deloitte pulse survey found 80 percent of employees say they consider inclusion when choosing their employers, and 72 percent said they would leave, or consider leaving a company to work for one that was more inclusive.

Read on to learn how to write inclusive job descriptions, so candidates sense they’d be valued by your organization and are more likely to click ‘Apply.’

Make your inclusion and diversity goals clear

Simply sharing the fact that inclusion and diversity matter to your company goes a long way toward attracting a diverse group of applicants. You can convey this company value throughout the job description. For example, you may lead with a brief “What We Offer” or “Working With Us” section that states your commitment to diversity goals, career growth, and work-life balance. In the list of requirements for the role, you can also include the ability to work effectively with a diverse group of employees to further demonstrate that your organization takes inclusion seriously.

Avoid exclusionary language

Certain words used for job titles and descriptions can be off-putting to some people. Though it’s pretty common knowledge that including ‘ninja,’ ‘rockstar,’ ‘wizard,’ and ‘genius’ can make older candidates and women scroll right past your job posting, they still show up in job descriptions. These words hint at a youth-centered workplace and the so-called ‘bro culture’ that is known to make women feel unwelcome. Also, while it’s important to feel confident in what you bring to the table, ‘genius’ or ‘guru’ is not how many highly talented people would describe themselves.

Additionally, keep gendered language to a minimum in job descriptions. For example, words like ‘competitive’ and ‘hard-driving’ are generally associated with masculinity, while words like ‘supportive’ and ‘collaborative’ have more feminine connotations. This doesn’t mean these words should be thrown out entirely, but if you overuse either masculine or feminine words you will unwittingly narrow your applicant pool.

Make sure perks have broad appeal

Drawing attention to the pool tables and pinball machines in your brainstorming room is a mistake on a job description if that’s all you mention. The same goes for calling out nerf-gun battles used to get through the afternoon slump, or only offering beer at company gatherings. While these activities are not enjoyed by men exclusively, they are more associated with male than with female interests. Include games that appeal to a wider variety of people, and offer beer and wine at company socials.

Distinguish between requirements and nic-to-haves

A long bullet list of required skills and experience is known to minimize applicant diversity. That’s because women tend to apply for jobs only when they meet most requirements, while men apply even when they meet only some of them. Decide what the ‘must-haves’ are for the role and clarify them on the job description. Then, in a separate section, list the skills that would be great for candidates to have but are not vital.

Back it up

Finally, make sure the picture of an inclusive workplace you are painting in the job description accurately reflects your real office culture. When you foster an inclusive culture at every level of your organization, you’re more likely to retain the wider group of talent your improved job description attracts.

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Hudson RPO

Content Team

The Hudson RPO Content Team is made up of experts within the Talent Acquisition industry across the Americas, EMEA and APAC regions. They provide educational and critical business insights in the form of research reports, articles, news, videos, podcasts, and more. The team ensures high-quality content that helps all readers make talent decisions with confidence.

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