5 ways employers can make job descriptions more inclusive

June is Pride Month and Indigenous History Month in Canada - centred around two important and diverse groups that often get overlooked when recruiting. However,  as highlighted in our  May Labour report, one benefit of a tight candidate market is that diverse candidates are being seen, valued and hired. 

More employers are setting clear expectations to ensure a diverse and inclusive work environment. However, one critical function which often gets overlooked is “job postings”, and when done incorrectly, it can turn away diverse voices and experiences before you even have a chance to meet them. What your job post says (or doesn’t say) can speak volumes to job seekers.


How can you make job descriptions more inclusive?

Although your HR team or the hiring manager may be an expert at knowing the job requirements and diversity and inclusion practices, they may not necessarily be experts at writing a neutral job description that enables underrepresented candidates to feel welcome to apply. Here are 5 things employers and recruiters can do to make job descriptions more inclusive:


1. Understand and cater to differing preferences

According to Forbes, different people seek jobs differently: 

  • For instance, only 37.3% of women use LinkedIn as a job search resource as opposed to 50% of men using it.
  • The same research also described that women regard changes in personal life to be a primary reason to leave a job whereas salary was the primary reason for men to change jobs.
  • More women than men say that when they’re looking for a new job, benefits and work-life balance are deal-breakers, whereas more men say that the most important non-negotiable is their salary.

These findings indicate that if employers are looking to ensure that their job descriptions appeal to all genders equally, it is imperative to keep in mind the incentives, goals, and preferred channels that will encourage them to apply.


2. Use neutral titles and words

Do you regularly use words like "rockstar", "ninja", or "high-energy" in your job description? While these terms instantly connote specific skills/attitudes in one word and can help you highlight attributes of your work environment, such terms often discourage seasoned and experienced professionals from applying for a role. 

There are also some words used in everyday language that can turn off someone with (or close to someone with) a disability:  

  • “speak” (“communicate” is better)
  • “see” (“identify”, “assess” and “discover” are better)
  • “carry” (“move” is better)
  • “walk” (“traverse” is better)
  • “type” (record, input, write)

Here are a few more examples.


3. Eliminate pronouns

Remove any pronouns such as "she" or "he" when writing a job description. Instead use a word like "S/he" or speak directly to the reader by referring to them as "you". Along with eliminating pronouns, this also helps you establish a conversational tone where the candidate feels like you're talking to them instead of talking at or talking about them.

It is also important to choose gender-neutral words around job titles to make sure that your job description does not unintentionally discriminate against any gender or age. 


4. Relook at “must-have” skills and qualifications in your job description

Stating a particular major within a degree as a mandatory requirement for your job can greatly limit the number of applicants to one gender or the other. You may be discouraging some highly skilled candidates from applying to your job because of such a requirement. 

In fact, Glassdoor Economic Research found that the choice of college major can vary by gender, and people often choose a completely different job based on their skill or interest. By making specific majors mandatory, you may be limiting your candidate pool and missing out on some great potential additions to your team. 


5. Express your commitment to diversity & inclusion explicitly

According to the 2021 Impact Report "Wage Inequality in the Workplace", over 83% of survey respondents said that it is important that their employer takes steps to promote diversity and inclusion. Job descriptions are an excellent opportunity to strike a deliberate conversation around your organization’s diversity and inclusion policy. Choose to include a blurb in your job description encouraging applicants from diverse backgrounds, genders, and communities to apply. Ensure you allow for accommodations for people with disabilities to apply and be interviewed; although this is mandatory in Ontario and Manitoba, other provinces also need to do this. 

In addition, make sure to use images and external/internal communication messages to include diverse communities such as LGBTQ2S, BIOPIC, etc. to reaffirm your commitment to diversity and inclusion. This not only encourages candidates who belong to these communities to apply for your role but also attracts potential candidates who wish to work in an inclusive and diverse workplace to apply.



Building a diverse and inclusive talent pipeline 

There is no doubt that fostering diversity and inclusion starts with how you describe your open positions. You want your business to be seen as an equal opportunity workplace, inclusive and fostering belonging. This is even more important in today’s job market. With June coming to a close, think about your open positions and how you can cast a wider net and enrich your organization with a variety of voices. 


Looking for more ways to attract diverse talent?… Check out our white paper on the Talent squeeze.


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