Your job ad is the first point of contact between your organization and potential candidates. Therefore, using inclusive language is vital.

And first impressions do count. So it’s at this stage where you can showcase your employer brand. And set your company apart from others to attract and hire diverse and qualified candidates.

But 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. 

So in this article, we’ll share an inclusive language list of more than 75 examples of biased words we often find in job ads, with more inclusive replacements. We divided the examples into categories for easier reading. 

Plus we’ll share tips for writing inclusive job ads and examples of inclusive job ads. We’ll also share ways job description management software can help automate removing exclusionary words.

What’s the Importance of Inclusive Language in Job Ads?

Inclusive job ads can help you attract a diverse range of candidates. And creating an inclusive job goes beyond using racial and gender-inclusive language. So, there are more factors to consider such as elitism, mental health, disability, and more.

A group of employees sited at a roundtable having a meeting. (Inclusive language blog)

Image Source: Mapbox on Unsplash

With an inclusive job ad, your organization will attract:

  • Both male and female candidates
  • Candidates from any race
  • Candidates of any age
  • LGBTQ candidates
  • Former felons

And more. 

So due to this, you end up creating an inclusive environment where all employees feel valued, safe, and empowered. Plus research from McKinsey shows inclusive organizations are more productive and profitable.

Now that we’ve set the stage, let’s talk about the examples of exclusionary words in job ads depending on different factors such as race, age, disability, and more.

1. Inclusive Language List for Race

According to the Color Connotations and Racial Attitudes journal article by Douglas Longshore from UCLA, the colors white and black have carried opposite connotations for a long time. 

The black color is associated with negative connotations such as disgrace and evil while the white color is associated with decency and purity.

For instance, if you’re “blacklisted” you’re rejected. And if you’re “whitelisted” you’re approved. Another example is an individual can get “blackballed” meaning you’re rejected, however, there is no “white-balled”.

In technology, “black hat” status means you’re on the wrong whereas “white hat” status means you’re right. 

Another common example is the “brown bag sessions” you host for get-togethers can offend some individuals. So, this term was a form of racial discrimination against the Black American community in the past. 

It compared a person’s skin tone to a brown paper bag’s color. So the darker skin tones didn’t get access to businesses, clubs, and events.

Here are more racial words to avoid. And inclusive replacements for them:

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
spirit animalkindred/muse
a cakewalkan easy task
blacklist/blacklistsblocklist, denylist
brown bag sessionlunch and learn, learning session
culture fitculture add
Grandfather clauseLegacy
Indian/American IndiansIndigenous Americans
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


2. Inclusive Language List for Gender

Even in this age, most job descriptions aren’t gender inclusive. For instance, job titles use the term “man” (Chairman, Doorman, Handyman, Anchorman, Congressman, Fireman,), etc. Not considering there are numerous gender-neutral titles to use.

So doing this prevents female candidates from applying to job applications. And different studies show that female candidates hardly apply for jobs if they feel they aren’t 100% qualified. Whereas men apply whether they have the qualifications or not. 

So when writing job ads use gender-neutral phrases that favor both females and males. Here are examples of non-inclusive gender phrases to avoid and the replacements to use:

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
businessmanbusiness professional


3. Inclusive Language List for LGBTQIA+

Candidates from the LGBTG+ community get left out based on the personal pronouns they use, the people they choose to love, and how they describe their families. 

According to research, 31% of LGBTQ employees say they have faced discrimination at work.

A multicolored flag with different rainbow colors

Image Source: Daniel James on Unsplash

For instance, using terms such as “maternal and paternity” leave might be exclusionary based on a person’s gender identity and sexual orientation. So a more inclusive phrase would be “parental time off, and “parental leave”.

And instead of saying “husband”, “wife”, “girlfriend”, or “boyfriend”, it’s inclusive to the LGBTQ community to use “partner” or “spouse”. 

So, here are more examples of LGBTQ exclusionary words to avoid and the replacements to use:

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


4. Inclusive Language List for Disability

According to 2023 statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the United States, unemployment rates were higher for persons with a disability than for those with no disability. 

So using inclusive language throughout your job ads ensures you build a disability-inclusive workplace where any person with a disability is welcome. 

For instance, use person-first language such as “person with a disability” instead of disabled individuals. 

Plus avoid making any assumptions about your candidates’ limitations or abilities. So, to learn more about disability words to use, this disability language style guide can help you.

Here are more examples of disability-exclusionary words to avoid and the replacements to use:

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

5. Inclusive Language List for Elitism

Elitism is alive in our day-to-day lives. People think elitism only exists in business circles, and clubs. 

But elitism language in job ads is alive. For example, if your job ad says you only accept candidates who attended certain top schools, that’s elitism. Not everyone has the socioeconomic status privilege to attend an Ivy League university.

So here are examples of elitism exclusionary words to avoid and replacements to use:

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


6. Inclusive Language List for Mental Health and Neurodiversity

At some point in your life, you’ve probably said please let’s do a “sanity check” when double-checking a situation. However, that could be offensive to an individual with a mental illness. And also if you’ve ever used the term “crazy” or “nuts”, it could offend someone with mental illness.

A man holds his head while sitting on a sofa. He look stressed.

Image Source: Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

This non-inclusive language for mental health is also sometimes present in job jobs. For example, you might have come across job ads with the term, “This job might require you to work “crazy hours”.

So, here are more biased phrases to avoid and the replacements:

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
high pressure fast-paced


7. Inclusive Language List for Age

Currently, the work environment has different types of generations, from Baby Boomers to Gen Z, and more. These generations span more than 75 years. So it’s important to use age-inclusive language in job ads that apply to all generations.

For instance, the term “digital native” is a non-inclusive language used to describe individuals born and brought up during the digital technology age. 

In addition, using this term in job ads is non-inclusive to the older generations. And sometimes it can also lead to age discrimination lawsuits.

So, here are more non-inclusive age phrases to avoid and replacements to use:

Exclusionary WordsInclusive Replacements
digital nativespeople passionate about technology
geezerolder person
new graduategraduate
the elderlyolder people
just graduatedhas graduated
energetic and youngeager to learn
experienced workerdemonstrated skills
no experience neededdemonstrate a willingness to learn
an individual to hit the ground learningadaptable to challenges


8. Inclusive Language List for Former Felons

According to research by SHRM, 85% of HR professionals and 81% of business leaders believe former felons perform the same or even better than the ones with no criminal record. 

Despite this, workers with past criminal records still find it difficult to get jobs.

Therefore, to attract employees with past criminal backgrounds, start by avoiding the use of terms that might be discriminative. 

For instance, calling an individual “felon” suggests they’re still a criminal now, which is incorrect. 

So, here are more exclusionary words to avoid with the replacements:

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
not suitable for candidates with criminal recordsopen to individuals from all backgrounds

9. Inclusive Language List for Immigrants

Not every person stays and lives in their native nation of birth. So ensure your job ads don’t discriminate against immigrants. 

For instance, not all people speak English as their 1st language. However the term “native English speaker” is commonly used in job ads. This discriminates against immigrants.

“Illegal alien” is another offensive term used to describe immigrants in any country. So, here are more examples of offensive words to immigrants and replacements:

Exclusionary WordsInclusive Replacements
English native speakerfluent in English, proficient in English
legal alien 
familiarity with American cultureeager to learn new cultures
limited English proficiencyfirst language, not English

More Tips for Writing Better and Inclusive Job Ads

To ensure more inclusivity in your job ads, follow these tips:

  • Indicate Salary Range

Wage gaps are still high in the employment world. Especially for underrepresented employees and women. 

Therefore, including a salary range is a simple way to show candidates your company’s commitment to fair pay and equity. This will make you attract diverse candidates from different backgrounds. For instance, 68% of women view benefits and salary as one of the most important details in job ads.

  • Minimize Must-Have Requirements

The must-have job requirements deter different candidates from applying. For instance, women and men apply for jobs differently. Women are more likely to avoid applying for jobs when they don’t meet all the requirements while men just apply even without being 100% qualified. 

So reduce writing the must-have requirements to attract all candidates.

  • Focus on Skills

Results-based job ads increase your inclusive recruitment efforts. So instead of posting many bullet points of qualifications, emphasize the skills. This will help you get a pool of diverse and qualified candidates.

  • Include Your Diversity and Inclusion Statement

Candidates love seeing a D&I commitment when they’re searching for jobs to apply for. For example, according to a study by Linkedin, people of color would still love to see a generic inclusion statement. According to them, it’s better to have a generic one than not to have any.

If you would love to write one, check this list of 25+ Examples of Helpful Diversity Statements to inspire you.

Examples of Inclusive Job Ads To Inspire Your Next Efforts

We’ve covered non-inclusive words to avoid in your job ads. So, now let’s look at 2 practical examples of inclusive job ads:

Hubspot’s Content Design lead Job Ad

Why it Works:

  • The job advert doesn’t have any discriminatory language.
  • The job ad reflects the organization’s DE&I initiatives. This shows applicants the company takes inclusion seriously.
  • Diversity and inclusion is part of the job expectations from the candidates.
  • The formatting of the job ad makes it easy for all candidates to read.

Q&A Engineer Job From Diligent

Why it works:

  • The job ad is divided into sections. This makes it easy for candidates to navigate important information.
  • There’s the use of inclusive language
  • The job ad focuses on experience and skills rather than exclusive language like “must haves”
  • In the end, they highlight their commitment to diversity and inclusion.

We’ve created a comprehensive list of the best job ads examples for more inspiration.

Use Job Description Management Software To Analyse The Language in Your Job Ads

We know how hard it is to spot all the exclusionary words in job ads. It’s also hard if you’re writing job ads at scale. 

Now this is where job description management software comes in. You need a tool that can help you flag any exclusionary words based on race, gender, LGBTQ, former felons, and more. And provide you with alternative words.

So this is where a tool like Ongig’s Text Analyzer comes in. Ongig carefully reviews your job ad exclusionary words based on:

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • LGBTQ (sexual preference)
  • Disability
  • Age
  • Neurodiversity
  • Immigration status

And more. 

For example, our tool flags 10,000+ exclusionary words automatically. In the screenshot below, Ongig automatically highlights the exclusionary word related to ethnic diversity “native English speaker”.

ongig text analyzer screenshot

After all, your goal is to hire a candidate who speaks English fluently and not a person born in a native English-speaking country.

Why I wrote this?

By removing and replacing exclusionary words in job ads, you’ll be steps ahead in creating an inclusive workforce. Your organization will attract candidates of different gender, ages, races, and more.

Our focus at Ongig is to help you achieve your diverse hiring goals. Our software has a built-in inclusive language list to flag (and remove) bias, to help you attract more diverse talent.

Book a demo today to take your job ads to the next level.


  1. Diversity matters even more: The case for holistic impact by (Mckinsey)
  2. Here’s What Candidates Really Think About the Diversity Statements in Your Job Posts by (Linkedin)
  3. 2021 Getting Talent Back to Work Report by (SHRM)
  4. Disability Language Style  by (National Center on Disability and Journalism)
  5. Person’s with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics 2023 by (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

by in Diversity and Inclusion