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:

  • race
  • age
  • elitism
  • sexual orientation (LGBTQ+)
  • disability
  • 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 CategoryInclusive Replacements
a cakewalk racean easy task
bendphysical disabilitylower oneself
blacklist/blacklistsraceblocklist, denylist
brown bag sessionracelunch and learn, learning session
climb/climbingphysical disabilityscale, move up, scaling, moving up
criminal background checkformer felonsbackground check
culture fitraceculture add
digital nativeagepassionate about technology
English native speakerracefluent in English
degree from a top schoolelitisma degree
his/herLGBTQ+their, your
lift/liftingphysical disabilitymove, hold, moving, holding
maternity and paternity leaveLGBTQ+parental leave, parental time off
new graduateagea graduate
recent graduateagea graduate
sanity checkmental healthreview, audit, double-check
servant leadershipracegrowth leadership, supportive leadership
sit/sittingphysical disabilitybe stationary, being stationary
stand/standing physical disabilitybe upright/stationary, being upright/stationary
the men and womenLGBTQ+the team, the people
triberaceteam, network
typing physical disabilityinputting, entering
walk/walkingphysical disabilitymove, traverse, moving, traversing
walkthroughsphysical disabilityfinal checks
(source: Mixpanel)

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).

exclusionary words list

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”:

exclusionary words 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.

by in Diversity and Inclusion