Five Ways to Write Inclusive Job Descriptions

While we live in a world that’s pushing for mass inclusion, studies have shown that the language used in job descriptions can unintentionally exclude talented individuals that belong to certain demographics, thereby limiting the applicant pool for these openings. This is especially true when it comes to the use of gendered words—specifically adjectives—that get used in job descriptions. It’s critical that these JDs are written in a way to attract both qualified and diverse candidates alike.

For example, aggressive, competitive, and assertive are words often associated with male stereotypes, while compassionate, dedicated, and sensitive have more female connotations. This is just one of the ways we see employers lose out on diverse talent.

In order to avoid this-and other potential deterrents-it is important to be thoughtful about the way language can impact those searching for roles. Below are five ways to ensure your job descriptions are inclusive:

  1. Choose the right pronouns. Use the word “you” instead of “he” or “she.” This seems obvious, but we still see job descriptions using gender specific pronouns.
  2. “Work Hard/Play Hard.” This statement is often used to demonstrate a company’s fun and innovative work culture. While there are good intentions behind this, it can discourage parents who might feel that attending after-work social events are necessary to fit in. Instead, try describing the ways in which your culture is inclusive of everyone.
  3. Stick to the job responsibilities. As mentioned above, eliminating unconscious bias is essential to writing an inclusive job description. Stick to the core responsibilities and hard skills required to excel in the position. This can be educational requirements, knowledge of tools and specific software, or specific language fluencies. This pertains to the job title as well.
  4. State your Family Leave benefits. Families are an integral part of our lives. Highlighting your company’s family benefits ahead of time can go a long way in attracting the right applicants. While not every person at the company will use these benefits, knowing that they are available shows candidates that you’re inclusive of individuals with families.
  5. State your commitment to equality and diversity. The old saying, “Practice what you preach,” comes into play here. Companies that have diverse teams can better serve their clients by presenting them with an abundance of unique ideas and perspectives. People want to know that you’re committed to finding the best talent-both internally and externally for clients-so show them how you’re doing just that.

While these are just five quick tips to consider when attracting people to your organization, remember that there are many ways to be inclusive and attract a diverse range of candidates for your company. Good luck, and happy hunting!

Keri TenBoer

Associate Director, Global Agility Partnerships

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