Companies, HR managers, and recruiters need to address bias in job descriptions. Doing this requires that you ensure inclusivity when creating and sharing job ads, interviewing new recruits, and throughout the hiring process. While everyone thinks about racial bias, gender bias, and age bias, you should also consider socioeconomic inclusivity. 

Studies have shown how people’s socioeconomic status can be a barrier to getting certain jobs. For example, a report by the University of Edinburgh in Scotland found that accent bias in the UK is still a significant barrier to social mobility. So, many people still experience ridicule and criticism for their accents. This is especially true for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. And this in turn can affect progress through education and in the workplace.  

And, another report found that even in a high school setting in the UK, children who had a working-class background were less likely to receive higher grades for English and Math. That’s compared with children from more privileged backgrounds. 

Bias vs Fact (Bias in job descriptions blog)

And, a Yale University study found that during interviews for jobs, interviewers judge people on their socioeconomic status very quickly by interviewers. This can lead to rapid decision-making regarding hiring. And these quick decisions can favor applicants from higher social classes.

So, it’s crucial to identify these biases and put strategies in place to maximize inclusivity throughout the hiring process in companies. 

It is ethical to treat all applicants fairly and inclusively. But it may also have better outcomes for companies to have more diverse hiring practices that result in the hiring of the best talent. 

Below are several tips for how companies can address socioeconomic bias in their hiring practices, specifically concerning job postings.

Reasons to be Mindful of Bias in Job Descriptions 

When companies recruit new staff, the first thing that potential applicants will see is the job posting. Does your job posting contain bias, such as racial bias, ageism, ethnicity bias, or socioeconomic bias? Then it may alienate potential applicants and make it less attractive for them to apply for those positions. Or it may make it more difficult for certain people to get the job, or harder for companies to retain top talents. 

Why Addressing Unconscious Bias Benefits Your Organization 

Companies can benefit from having diversity in the workplace. This starts with having staff who can creatively problem-solve and innovate by drawing on diverse thoughts and ideas. It also helps to have fresh perspectives and the ability to meet client needs. So, workplaces that are diverse and inclusive may be more attractive to work at for staff; making them some of the most popular employers. 

So, diversity can be positive for organizations as it can help enhance problem-solving and foster innovation. And as many talented people are looking to work for companies that embrace diversity, it also helps make diverse companies more attractive to some of the most talented candidates. 

What is socioeconomic bias (aka class bias)? 

Socioeconomic bias, or class bias, is something that is pervasive in many societies. Often it’s subconscious, and something that we may not even be aware of. 

Socioeconomic bias is all about how we see people and the assumptions we make about them. It happens when we assume things about someone else. This may be about their education level, where they’re from, or where they grew up. It also happens when we judge people by the school or university they attended, their life experiences, hobbies, or how wealthy they are.

There are so many levels of socio-economic bias. It can even relate to someone’s accent, the clothes they wear, or the car they drive. 

When companies hire new people, this bias shows up when candidates don’t get the job because they don’t seem to fit the organization’s “culture.” Or, they choose job applications because of things like if the applicant went to the same school or university as the person doing the hiring. It can also be about if they seem to have had similar life experiences. 

The impact of socio-economic bias in job descriptions

Sometimes, organizations don’t mean to leave anyone out because of their background. But the way they hire might make it harder for people from certain backgrounds.

In some places, bias based on someone’s background or how much money they have isn’t seen the same as bias based on race or gender. This is a problem because you might not see it right away. And legally, there might not be much that can be done to stop discrimination like that. 

Thinking one class is better than another can really hurt people as they go through life. It can make it harder for them to find good jobs and move up in their careers. So, companies that don’t get rid of this kind of bias might miss out on hiring or keeping the best people. And that’s because the bias shows up in how they post jobs, hire, and welcome new employees. 

When it comes to addressing socioeconomic inclusivity in hiring talent, it’s important to mainstream socioeconomic inclusivity. This is vital, from the posting of job ads, through to the interview and selection process. 

How to Achieve Socioeconomic Inclusivity when Posting Job Ads

Is your company creating and posting job ads to recruit new talent? There are various ways to make your recruitment more inclusive. This is particularly true when it comes to diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. 

Consider the following when drafting and posting job ads. They may help your company enhance the diversity of your team when it comes to socio-economic status:

  • Actively look for opportunities to post your job ads on a range of job boards and job platforms. Go to those ones that people from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds visit often.
  • Consider your approach to hiring people from a diverse range of schools and universities. So, don’t just stick to ones that match the alma maters of your existing staff.
  • Aim to minimize jargon and language from your job ad that could make someone feel excluded, based on their socioeconomic standing.
  • To choose the right people for a job based on their abilities and skills, it’s a good idea to avoid asking about hobbies or activities in job ads. That way, you won’t leave out a lot of people who might not be able to afford those things or haven’t had the chance to do them.

Additional things to consider:

  • Think about if a university degree is really necessary for the job you’re advertising, or if experience would be enough. If you make certain degrees a must, you might leave out a lot of people who couldn’t afford to go to university. But these people may still have the skills for the job. So, there are different ways to check if someone has the skills you need.
  • Take care to have your job postings carefully reviewed for bias. Training your HR and hiring staff can help in this regard. A simple solution is to use Ongig’s Text Analyzer software which helps to get rid of all bias in your job postings. It also optimizes your text so that passive candidates engage with your organization…and actually submit applications.
  • Include a Diversity Statement in your job description so that you show prospective applicants how your organization is committed to employment equity and inclusion in the workplace. 
  • Ensure the readability of job descriptions by using plain English, avoiding acronyms and jargon, or overly formal language. 
  • Read tips that help eliminate bias when writing jobs ads.

Final thoughts on embracing inclusivity and addressing bias in job descriptions

There is a wealth of talent in the world, and companies often compete to hire the best applicants for open positions. 

But if your company’s job postings contain any forms of racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, or other types of bias, it’s a problem. You may be alienating the very people who may be best suited to those jobs.

Keep working to get rid of bias in your job ads and the whole hiring process. This can help your company get the best people. It also makes your diverse workplace a better and more appealing place to work.

When you’re choosing who to hire, it’s a good idea to think about the context of each application. This way, you won’t accidentally ignore someone who actually has the right skills and qualifications. For instance, someone who did well in a government school should be considered just as much as someone who did well in a private school. And that should be the case even if the government school doesn’t have a great reputation.

When HR teams and recruiters hire new staff, it’s important to appreciate diversity for a change that welcomes fairness and includes everyone. This means helping your staff understand any unconscious biases they might have. It also means helping them understand how to get past them.

This is a guest post from Andy Stofferis. Andy is an experienced digital nomad. He has been working from abroad for the last 8 years. Andy runs a blog about digital nomadism and remote work: This is where he shares his tips and techniques with remote company leaders, remote workers, and digital nomads.

by in Job Descriptions