How to write inclusive job descriptions
2020’s second biggest story has been all about equality, primarily through the Black Lives Matter movement. And with industry commitment to improve opportunities for all regardless of colour, faith, sex, ability or age, we all need to make sure we’re being inclusive.
This article will explore how recruiters can guarantee inclusivity from the start of the recruitment process, in our job descriptions!
For too long, job ads have – albeit sub-consciously – been too biased. The issue was highlighted back in August, when the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) signed up to the Race at Work Charter, strengthening its commitment to improve opportunities for BAME employees. At the time, Chief Executive Neil Carberry said: “Equal opportunities and fairness are not nice-to-haves for better times – they are essential for business and economic success.”
It’s long been known that a diverse workforce has advantages for any business, being more innovative, entrepreneurial and better skilled. In recruiting new people, techniques such as blind hiring can help eliminate bias; but the problem can start earlier in the process, with job descriptions that aren’t inclusive and thus fail to attract a diverse pool of candidates.
We have gathered some helpful advice on how you can ensure inclusivity in your job descriptions to improve your recruitment service, whilst helping place diverse talent into relevant roles.
Assessing inclusivity in job descriptions:
When you are assessing your job descriptions for inclusivity, there are 3 keys areas you need to consider: language, requirements, and accessibility.
What language are you using?
The language we use has a great deal of influence over our audience.
Using inclusive language means you make a deliberate choice to use words and terminology that do not exclude or isolate groups of people who may be knowingly or unknowingly discriminated.
- Terminology that is gender-specific or culturally insensitive can be easier to identify and remove from job descriptions, however, we also need to take out gender-coded words. Words that appeal more to men (such as confident, fearless, independent and driven) or more to women (like sensitive, empathise, interpersonal and compassion). Likewise, avoid terms like ‘eager to learn’ and ‘young and energetic’ and ‘go-getter’, as these can highlight a bias towards younger people. You can check your ad’s gender terminology for free too, using an online gender decoder. This tool can also help tackle other gender issues such as the gender pay gap, as some terminology can often feature more heavily in senior job descriptions which can deter certain genders from applying for promotions.
- Leave out the corporate jargon and acronyms, such as KPIs, SLAs and P&L – ‘insider’ language like that just makes potential applicants feel like outsiders.
- Always include the benefits and perks – such as parental leave (note: not maternity leave!), on-site child care and flexible working – you’re offering in the description, as they show you take inclusivity seriously.
- Depending on the role and your organisation, make your job description available in multiple languages.
- Ensure that it is clear whether it is a role for temporary workers or a permanent position.
What are the requirements?
Think about how many of your ‘must-haves’ really are essential. A long list of qualifications can often put people off applying – especially women who, studies have shown, will only apply if they feel they meet 100% of the requirements (while men will apply if they only meet 60%). So, cut down the list and soften the ‘desirable’ language using terms such as ‘bonus points for’ or ‘familiarity with’, to open up to a wider pool of candidates.
TapRecruit is a great online tool that uses augmented writing to ensure your job descriptions are clear and easy to understand, analysing requirements, job titles and language. And Good News! You can try it for free.
Are you considering everyone?
Of course, exclusion isn’t all about race, faith or gender. It’s also about accommodating different levels of ability – not just the legal requirements but providing whatever a potential candidate might need to do their job.
To make sure anyone with a disability feels welcome to apply, feature flexible hours and tele-working policies. Talk about accessibility with regard to parking, entrances, lifts and bathrooms. Avoid using language that might exclude anyone with varying degrees of sight, hearing or communication skills.
Writing inclusive job descriptions is only a small part of a wider industry commitment to prevent discrimination, however it is a step we can all take to support inclusivity and diversity in recruitment. So, no more using a template or digging out an old job description and updating it – take a little extra care, and you will attract a wider, and more diverse pool of talent!
To find out more about how Back Office can support your recruitment agency in all sorts of ways, talk to one of our team on 01260 280 290 or fill out our contact form.