Exclusionary words creep into job ads. And, some are more obvious than others. Finding them (plus more inclusive words to replace them) is a time suck.

Here are 75 examples of biased language I often find in job ads, with more inclusive replacements. I divided them into categories for easier reading.

Note: If you’re writing job ads at scale, using a tool like Ongig to flag and replace bias automates the process…and saves you time. This list is a sampling of the 10,000+ words Ongig flags automatically.

Inclusive Language List for Race

Exclusionary WordsInclusive Replacements
a cakewalkan easy task
blacklist/blacklistsblocklist, denylist
brown bag sessionlunch and learn, learning session
culture fitculture add
English native speakerfluent in English, proficient in English
legal alienimmigrant
minoritiesunderrepresented groups
mixed people people from a mixed ethnic group
native featurebuilt-in feature
nitty-grittydetails, essentials, core
peanut gallerygroup, crowd, audience
segregatesegment, divide
servant leadershipgrowth leadership, supportive leadership
tribeteam, network


Inclusive Language List for Gender

Exclusionary WordsInclusive Replacements
a championa sponsor, a promoter, an advocate
chairmanchairperson, chair
man-hoursstaff hours
a ninjaa pro
overachieverdreamer, self-starter, doer
poster boyrole model, influencer
servicemen veterans, former military
tacklingtaking on, embracing, managing


Inclusive Language List for LGBTQIA+

Exclusionary WordsInclusive Replacements
guysfolks, people
he or shethey, you
herself/himselfyourself, themselves
lifestyle choicesexual orientation
maternity/paternity leaveparental leave
men and women people, the team, everyone
moms and dadsparents
sexual preferencesexual orientation
transgendereda transgender person


Inclusive Language List for Disability

Exclusionary WordsInclusive Replacements
abled-bodieda person without a disability
afflicted byhas [name of disability or condition]
crippledperson with a disability
mutea person who cannot speak
restricted to a wheelchaira person who uses a wheelchair
standbe upright, stationary
suffering from experiencing an illness
vertically-challengedperson of short stature, a little person
vision-impaireda person with limited vision
walk move, traverse

Inclusive Language List for Elitism

Exclusionary WordsInclusive Replacements
a degree from an elite schoola college degree
a degree from a top business programa business degree
an elite college degreea college degree
an Ivy League education a college education
attended a top collegeattended college
graduated at the top of your classgraduated from college
graduated from a top 25 engineering schoolgraduated from an engineering school
MBA from a top universityhave an MBA
strong score on the SAT/ACTtook the SAT/ACT
top-tier college degree college degree


Inclusive Language List for Mental Health and Neurodiversity

Exclusionary WordsInclusive Replacements
basket casenervous
crazya person who has an emotional disability, neuroatypical
dummy valuesample value
mad a person with a mental health condition
mentally handicappeda person who has an emotional disability, neuroatypical
mentally illhave a mental health condition, neuroatypical
sanity checkreview, audit, double-check
slow learnerneurodiverse, neuroatypical
struggling with depressionhave depression


Inclusive Language List for Age

Exclusionary WordsInclusive Replacements
digital nativespeople passionate about technology
geezerolder person
new graduategraduate
the elderlyolder people
just graduatedhas graduated


Inclusive Language List for Former Felons

Exclusionary WordsInclusive Replacements
convicted felonformer felon, a person with a felony history
criminal background checkbackground check
criminal history checkbackground check
ex-offenderreturning citizen, parolee
felonformer felon, a person with a felony history


Why I wrote this?

Ongig’s mission is to create effective and inclusive job descriptions. Our software has a built-in inclusive language list to flag (and remove) bias, to help you attract more diverse talent.

by in Diversity and Inclusion