Is your company aiming for a more diverse workforce? It all starts with an inclusive job description. An inclusive JD sets the tone for the candidates you’ll attract and eventually hire. Katrina Kibben, CEO of Three Ears Media, says:

“Creating an inclusive job posting is not just about pushing your content through gender bias AI. It’s about changing techniques to provide more clarity, so any candidate from any background can understand the daily responsibilities and determine if they would like to do this job every day.” 

source: SHRM

In this post, you’ll find:

  • 5 tips on how to make job descriptions more inclusive
  • 2 examples of inclusive job descriptions (plus a link to 7 more)

Let’s get started!

How to Write an Inclusive Job Description

Here are 5 great tips on how to write inclusive descriptions:

1. Focus on your “must haves” in your JD

When writing your JDs, make sure you only list the “must-have” requirements for the job. A best practice for all job descriptions is to keep your requirements list to 7 items or less. Many candidates get bored or move on after the 7th bullet.

An HP study shows men apply for a job even if they meet only 60% of the job qualifications. But, women only tend to apply if they meet 100%.

This also holds true for some neurodiverse candidates. For example, someone with autism might take your long list of requirements very literally and not apply if they don’t feel they meet each one on the list.

2. Use gender-inclusive words

Gender-coded words decrease apply rates and increase the cost per application. Removing them will increase your chances of attracting more talent from diverse groups.

If you want to write more inclusive (and gender-neutral JDs), it’s challenging to catch every gender-coded word. That’s why it’s best to use AI software like Ongig to automate the process and save yourself some time.

Ongig analyzes your JDs for gender-coded words and suggests more inclusive alternatives (or allows you to delete them):

writing_inclusive_job_descriptions_gender-coded_removal

3. Remove gender-specific pronouns from your JDs

Many companies use pronouns like “he” or “she” in their JDs. To be more inclusive and gender-neutral, use “you” or “they” to refer to candidates. You might also use “this candidate” or “this position” if you want to be more formal:

how_to_write_inclusive_job_descriptions_pronouns

User gender-neutral pronouns opens up your JDs to all types of applicants — cisgender, transgender, or gender non-binary.

4. Remove other “biased language”

Outside of gender, many different types of bias creep into your JDs. Age bias is one example.

Age shouldn’t be a requirement for any role. If you want to attract skilled and experienced candidates, make sure your JDs are free from words like “youthful,” digital-native,” or “millennials-only,” to name a few. These words imply that your company prefers people from a certain age bracket and deters qualified applicants who are outside that age group. 

Other types of bias you want to find and remove from your JDs to be more inclusive are:

  • racial bias
  • disability bias
  • LGBTQ bias
  • ethnicity bias
  • former felons bias
  • elitism bias
  • mental health bias
  • religion bias

Here’s a list of the 25 Most-Used Exclusionary Words [in job ads] (with replacements) to use as a guide when you’re writing inclusive job descriptions:

Exclusionary WordsBias CategoryInclusive Replacements
a cakewalkracean 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
he/sheLGBTQ+they/you
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/standingphysical disabilitybe upright/stationary, being upright/stationary
the men and womenLGBTQ+the team, the people
triberaceteam, network
typingphysical disabilityinputting, entering
walk/walkingphysical disabilitymove, traverse, moving, traversing
walkthroughsphysical disabilityfinal checks

5. Include a diversity and inclusion statement

Most candidates value seeing a D&I commitment when they’re looking for jobs to apply for. So when you think about how to write an inclusive job description, include a statement about your company’s stance on DEIB. Even if it’s short, still use it.

A diverse population of LinkedIn members in the U.S. said:

“even a generic statement is still better than no statement.”

source: LinkedIn Study of 764 members on Diversity Statements, June 2021.

If you need to write one, check out this link for 25+ examples of D&I statements for inspiration.

Now, what does an inclusive job description look like? Here are 2 examples (plus a link to 7 more):

Inclusive Job Description Example — Pearson

This role from Pearson is a great example of an inclusive job description because:

  • it emphasizes their commitment to DEI at the beginning and the end
  • there are very few masculine-coded words (which decrease apply rates)
  • only the “must-haves” are listed in the qualifications section (keeping this list short attracts more diverse talent)
  • it uses the 2nd-person point of view (you, they) to make candidates feel welcome and included
  • there are no “exclusionary words” that might deter talent from underrepresented groups

Plus, it’s short, so it holds the candidates’ attention.

inclusive job description example pearson

Inclusive Job Description Example — CVS

Another great example of an inclusive job description is the one below from CVS. Here’s why:

  • the “Required Qualifications” list is short (opening up the role for candidates without loads of experience)
  • the benefits list includes things like fertility benefits, family support resources, and hybrid work options (great for women candidates, people starting families, or caring for older family members)
  • Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are also listed in the JD (this shows support for the inclusion of underrepresented groups)
  • there’s an “anti-discrimination” statement and a DEIB statement

Do you want more examples of great inclusive JDs? Check out Ongig’s post 7 Examples of Inclusive Job Descriptions from Gem Siocon.

Why I Wrote This:

Remember, a diverse workforce always starts with great JDs. With these tips, you’ll be able to attract a diverse workforce for your biz. And, if you want to learn how to write inclusive job descriptions using Ongig’s software, please request a demo to learn more.

Shout-outs!

  1. 6 Tips for Inclusive Recruitment Writing (by Monster Staff)
  2. Learn How to Write Inclusive Job Postings (by Roy Maurer)
  3. 5 Must-Dos for Writing Inclusive Job Descriptions (by Maxwell Huppert)
  4. Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified (by Tara Sophia Mohr)
  5. The Impact of Gendered Wording on Candidate Attraction (by Appcast)
  6. Feature Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

by in Diversity and Inclusion

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