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    How to Make Inclusive Job Descriptions [Checklist]

    5 mins

    Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a major topic of discussion among company executives and human resource professionals. 

    While providing a workplace where everyone feels comfortable has always been critical, organizations now seek to improve their reputations for DEI and ensure their talent reflects society. They do this by creating inclusive job descriptions as well as supporting inclusivity after hires are made.

    There’s good reason to do so. According to a survey by Glassdoor, 76% of workers feel that a diverse workforce is one of the most critical factors when evaluating companies. The University of North Carolina at Pembroke notes that diversity fosters innovation, talent retention, and a team’s problem-solving ability. 

    Clearly, it makes sense to prioritize DEI at the workplace, starting from the very beginning of the hiring journey: the job advertisement. Here are some tips for ensuring your job ads emphasize inclusivity.

    How to make inclusive job descriptions

    Make Your Job Ads Your Own

    It may seem easy to copy and paste a job ad from your competitor, tweaking it minimally to incorporate company-specific details. However, that’s a major turn-off for potential applicants, who may come across the duplication as they search for a new position.

    • Write an accurate description that emphasizes precisely what your organization is looking for in the role

    • List the regular tasks the employee will be expected to perform

    • Describe what the work environment is like and expectations for the person who will succeed in the role

    Your job post is not only for describing the role - it’s your opportunity to showcase what the organization is all about. Incorporating additional assets like visuals or video content can help the potential hire get more of a feel for your company's values.

    Applicants tend to resonate more with organizations that personalize their job descriptions rather than those that use traditional lists of duties, experience, and education requirements.

    Avoid Limiting Applicants with Quantifying Statements

    Many organizations make the mistake of listing years of the required experience or specific education for their open roles. Doing so can limit the talent pool you’re seeking. People interested in the job may decide not to apply if they aren’t able to tick off every requirement box in your application.

    Instead, focus on what is absolutely necessary to perform the job. 

    Example: If you’re hiring a digital marketing manager, you may list the platforms your company uses and request that applicants have experience using them. You don’t need to sideline applicants who don’t have an advanced degree in marketing or ten years of experience in a similar position.

    Use Neutral Terminology

    To avoid offending potential candidates, ensure that your job descriptions don’t use language that unintentionally targets specific genders or ethnic groups. This is especially true for roles that have traditionally been held by males, like executive roles, engineering jobs, and positions in computer programming.

    • Avoid pronouns such as he, her, him, and she at all costs. Instead, use inclusive terms like “applicant,” “candidate,” or “you.”

    • Try to stay away from phrases and adjectives that may be gender-coded. Words like “competitive” and “assertive” may discourage female applicants from applying due to the words being male-coded.

    • Use language that describes what you’re looking for, such as someone with experience working with specific programming languages. 

    Use Simple Language & Avoid Jargon

    While those who have a background in similar industries may be familiar with specific acronyms and jargon, it’s best to describe the job in simple language. Someone who may be well qualified for the role could come from a different industry background, and you could be missing out on great candidates if you use terms that are exclusive.

    Additionally, the availability of remote work has increased tremendously, and companies are now more open to hiring people outside their geographical region — and even internationally. If your organization is seeking remote workers from other areas, use terminology that is inclusive to people from various regions or countries.

    Example: You might be open to hiring someone from overseas, even though your organization is within the U.S. If this is the case, you’ll want to avoid using jargon your talent pool might not understand, especially if English is their second or third language. Maintain complete clarity in your inclusive job descriptions to avoid confusion.

    Be Inclusive of Disabled Workers

    It’s also essential to scan through your job listing and look for any phrases or messaging that can exclude disabled candidates. When listing required functions, make it clear that your workplace offers reasonable accommodations.

    Example: Let’s say the role requires the worker to be at a counter or cash register for eight hours. Rather than listing the requirement as “Must be able to stand at the counter/cash register for a full shift,” you can describe it as, “Must be able to be in a stationary position at the counter/cash register for a full shift.” This way, you’re focusing more on the function rather than how someone does that function.

    Include Company Policies Concerning DEI

    Government jobs must include a general statement noting that they comply with the EEOC’s hiring rules, including avoiding discrimination. If your organization truly values DEI and has its own policy concerning the practice, make sure to introduce it.

    Rather than only listing a generic statement that complies with the law, make your statement your own. If available, link to a webpage on your company site that clearly outlines your organization’s DEI practices, such as any committees or special events catering to diversity and inclusion.

    DEI Begins with Your Organization’s Job Ads

    Presenting your company as DEI-friendly starts with inclusive job descriptions. The more inclusive your organization appears to be, the more likely you are to attract a variety of talent across various demographics. 

    A diverse workforce can pay off in dividends, leading to happier employees, an inviting culture, and more significant revenues.

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    Kristina Dinabourgski
    Has a passion for demystifying benefits 🎉
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