Exclusionary words (aka biased language) creep their way into job descriptions more than you think.
To find the most used, I reviewed 10,000 real JDs analyzed by Ongig from February 19, 2021, to February 19, 2022.
The most-used exclusionary words fall into these bias categories:
- sexual orientation (LGBTQ+)
- former felons
- mental health
The good news: our customers used Ongig to swap the exclusionary words with more inclusive replacements (with just a few clicks).
Now, on to the list:
A list of the 25 Most-Used Exclusionary Words [in job ads]
Here are 25 exclusionary words Ongig clients found (and replaced) the most using Text Analyzer in the last 12 months.
Note: I created an alphabetized table (with the bias categories) for easier viewing, and I list more inclusive replacements you can use in your JDs.
|Exclusionary Words||Bias Category||Inclusive Replacements|
|a cakewalk||race||an easy task|
|bend||physical disability||lower oneself|
|brown bag session||race||lunch and learn, learning session|
|climb/climbing||physical disability||scale, move up, scaling, moving up|
|criminal background check||former felons||background check|
|culture fit||race||culture add|
|digital native||age||passionate about technology|
|English native speaker||race||fluent in English|
|degree from a top school||elitism||a degree|
|lift/lifting||physical disability||move, hold, moving, holding|
|maternity and paternity leave||LGBTQ+||parental leave, parental time off|
|new graduate||age||a graduate|
|recent graduate||age||a graduate|
|sanity check||mental health||review, audit, double-check|
|servant leadership||race||growth leadership, supportive leadership|
|sit/sitting||physical disability||be stationary, being stationary|
|stand/standing||physical disability||be upright/stationary, being upright/stationary|
|the men and women||LGBTQ+||the team, the people|
|typing||physical disability||inputting, entering|
|walk/walking||physical disability||move, traverse, moving, traversing|
|walkthroughs||physical disability||final checks|
Some of these are obvious exclusionary words. Others might not be. Each flagged word in Ongig comes with a pop-up explainer to tell you why it might exclude an underrepresented group. More on that in the next section.
Remove and Replace Exclusionary Words with Ongig
The list of 25 exclusionary words above is a small sampling of biased phrases flagged in Ongig. The software has an “Exclusionary Phrases?” tab listing any biased words found in your job descriptions (outside of gender bias…it has its own section).
Each job description in Ongig is scanned for 1,000+ exclusionary words and flagged with a purple underline.
And with a quick click on the flagged word, you’ll find a pop-up explainer with details on why it’s flagged, plus tips on replacing (or removing the words) from your job ads.
Here’s an example pop-up explainer showing the phrase “a cakewalk”:
Why I Wrote This?
Ongig’s mission is to help you create effective and inclusive job descriptions. This includes flagging exclusionary words in your JDs so you can remove bias and attract diverse talent. Please request a demo if you’d like to learn more.