Inclusive Language in Job Ads

Inclusive Language in Job Ads

There is a strong connection between words and work. Language can be used to create community at work, from the way we describe our company’s vision and values through the questions that we ask during an interview.

When writing job descriptions, it is important to use language that conveys your commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. A new report from Glassdoor shows that more than 76% of job applicants consider an employer’s support for workplace diversity to be an important factor in their decision-making. Leading companies are beginning to respond. Major corporations like Apple and Amazon have started to publish their diversity results.

Even if you don’t have a well-known company, diversity and inclusion can be a benefit to your organisation. This all starts when your hiring managers publish your next open job. The words and phrases you use in your job advert can have a strong influence on placing someone successful in the role without bias.

What is Inclusive Language?

Inclusive language is respectful and considerate of people from different backgrounds and provides equal opportunities for everyone. The words, phrases, and terms you use shape this language. Make no mistake: inclusive language is key to building a diverse, thriving workforce.

According to the widely reported 2015 Glass Ceiling Index published by the NY Times, there were many more male CEOs named “John” or “David” at that time than female CEOs.

Although this imbalance may be finally shifting, recent data suggests that the lack of diversity and inclusion remains a problem for employees today. For example, more than two thirds of job losses during the pandemic were female. Women who are low-wage workers suffered the worst unemployment rates in the entire pandemic.

In fact, African Women face the largest employment gap in the country, according to multiple reports. There’s clearly room to improve diversity recruiting. The good news is that today’s HR managers can create a more equitable and inclusive workplace. They also get some serious benefits.

Why Inclusive Language in Job Ads Matters

Inclusive language matters, because by using non-inclusive language, you can reduce your talent pool. If your language excludes talented applicants, it could result in a less ideal candidate fulfilling the role.

In the majority of job ads, gender identity, for example, won’t affect the performance of the candidate in the role. Job posts that use inclusive language can lead to a more successful recruitment effort and, in the long-term, result in greater success for your business.

Here are a few of the benefits you can expect to enjoy when taking steps towards greater inclusivity in your job ads:

  • You can build more profitable companies with diverse genders: Companies at the top quartile of gender diversity have been proven to outperform those at the bottom quartile by 36%.
  • Feeling more included in the workplace increases productivity. Experts claim that motivation to lead would increase by 21%in truly inclusive work environments.
  • Diverse customers attract diverse employees. This creates a better customer experience for all parties and allows companies to reach more people from different communities.

Where to Begin Applying More Inclusive Language?

Your job descriptions are the best place to begin capturing all the benefits of a diverse workforce. Let’s step by step take a look at the steps involved in creating a job description with more inclusion.


Where to Begin Applying More Inclusive Language


How to Create a Job Ad with More Inclusive Language

To create an inclusive job description, use gender-neutral language, reduce jargon, and highlight inclusive amenities and accommodations. Include an BBB-EE statement to ensure fair hiring practices. You can also use the below guidelines to shape your job ad text and even to inform your interview questions.

Create Guidelines Instead of Recycling Old Ad Copy

In order to fill as many seats as possible, it is easy to recycle old job listings. A job description that is outdated can not only be damaging to your employer’s branding, but it may also include obsolete language.

Not only are inclusive job openings attractive to high-quality candidates to expand your candidate pools, but they can also set the stage for your entire culture. So how do you write inclusive job descriptions? You can begin by defining the guidelines for your company.

#1 Points to Consider When Setting Up the Inclusive Language Style Guide

Use inclusive language within your daily speech can encourage inclusion in your job descriptions and company culture. Each organisation can decide the guidelines that they will follow. However, there are some rules you might want to remember as you create your inclusive language style manual.

Here are some suggestions for inclusive alternatives and a summary of words to avoid in job descriptions.

1. Status

Talking about parental terms, whether male or female, should be avoided. Instead of “mother / father” use “parent”. Use “parenting” instead of mothering or fathering.

2. Disability

Not all disabilities are visible. It is important to ensure that the language you use to describe disability does not suggest that someone is incapable or weak. It is also important to use person-first language. For example, use “people with disabilities” instead of “handicapped”. “People without disabilities” is better than “able-bodied” or “normal”. Use “people who are visually impaired” rather than ‘the blind”.

3. Gender & Orientation

Inclusion of gender and orientation language can empower members of the LGBTQ community and women. Many companies have begun to allow employees to add their elective pronouns to email signatures. This helps to normalize the conversation and fosters inclusion for all.

  • Instead of “ladies and gentlemen”, use “everyone”.
  • Instead of “husband or wife”, use “partners or spouses”.
  • Use “sexual orientation or sexuality” instead of “sexual preference”.
  • Use “transgender” in place of “transvestite”.
  • Instead of sex change”, you can use “transitioning”.
  • Use “gay, lesbian, or bisexual” in place of “homosexual”.

4. Race

It is a good idea to use adjectives instead of nouns when discussing race. Be aware of racially coded terms and words associated with the Apartheid regime.

  • Use “previously disadvantaged group” over “minorities” or other racial terms.
  • Instead of ‘”whitelisted”, use “allow-listed”.

5. Neurodivergent

There has been some discussion about “neurodivergent” being an ableist term. While many still prefer “neurodiverse” or “neurodivergent”, it’s better to address specific ailments when appropriate.

  • Use “ADHD, autistic, or dyslexic, etc.” rather than “neurodivergent”.
  • Use “strengths” rather than “superpowers or disablements”.

#2 Avoid Using Language that is Gender-Coded

It’s difficult to believe that something as simple as a word can impact not only the number but also who applications are received by a company.

A 2015 thorough investigation by Buffer HR professionals into their hiring practices  found that the reason why the company received less than 2% women candidates for development jobs was “hacker”.

While words like “rockstar”, “ninja” or “rockstar” might seem familiar to most of us, much of the foundational research on gender coded language has shown that these seemingly innocuous terms can leave people feeling excluded and create a stark gender gap within your organizations.

To ensure that you aren’t introducing gender bias into your job descriptions, next time you write or edit them, use the gender encoder. Textio and UnbiasMe are also great tools.

#3 Reduce Jargon and Offensive Language

Most of the time, causing offense is accidental. A lot of the bias we see in the world and at work is unconscious. While everyone may have their own vocabulary and terms, they can seem insensitive or insulting to others.

Write job descriptions that aren’t directly relevant to your role. Avoid industry jargon and avoid terms that might offend or alienate marginalized members. Here are some language rules you might find useful:

  • Avoid offensive and derogatory words, for example using “ADHD” to denote being easily distracted.
  • Use current terms only. For example, use “handicapped” rather than “crippled” or “person with Down Syndrome” rather than “Down Syndrome person”.
  • Avoid using medicalised terminology or too clinical terms, such as “homosexual”.

The Conscious Style Guide provides tips and insights as well deep reviews of the most recent terms being challenged by social justice advocates.

#4 Highlight Inclusive Amenities and Accommodations

You can also make your job advertisements more inclusive by offering the perks or benefits that matter to different groups of applicants.

Today’s employees are looking for receipts and not platitudes. Offering benefits that are appealing to people from all walks of life will show potential applicants that your company is serious about inclusion and diversity.

When designing workplace policies, consider including perks that would appeal to a diverse range of employees, such as parental leave, accommodations for neurodiverse talents and people living with disabilities, and benefits coverage for domestic partners.

#5 Include BBB-EE or Fair Hiring Declaration

It is important to include a BBB-EE statement within your job description. Equal employment opportunities means that everyone has the right to work and be considered for promotions based on their abilities and potential, without discrimination based on factors like sex, race, religion, age, or veteran status.

Employers should ensure that every job posting includes a statement about non-discriminatory practices and BBB-EE. It is important to include a statement of non-discriminatory practices in every job listing. Including language that emphasizes diversity and inclusion will make sure your job descriptions are inclusive.

Inclusive terms and phrases you can use are: “empowering previously disadvantaged”, “inclusive environment”, “celebrate diversity”, “assistance and accommodation for disabled”, “promote and discharge based on merit” and “mutual respect”.

#6 How Do You Make Your Job Description More Inclusive? Make it Meaningful.

While inclusive job descriptions can have untold benefits for your business, it is not surprising that many companies are simply going through the motions without being held responsible.

No matter how advanced or feature-packed your web-based recruiting solution may be, it’s not possible for HR technology to add that human element to your job ad. Inauthentic attempts to prioritise workplace diversity can backfire.

Job seekers, employees, and consumers can spot lip-service offerings from a mile away. Such inauthenticity can have a devastating effect on your business and even repel qualified candidates. That’s why it is important to keep your communication genuine and meaningful.

Keep Your Message Original with These Tips and Tricks

  • Use inclusive language in advertising, websites, internal documentation, and every day in the working environment.
  • Offer training for your employees to help them communicate their values and expectations regarding BBB-EE.
  • Additional performance monitoring checks might be necessary to assure that your managers adhere to these values and, for example, avoid gendered language.
  • Understanding the impact of BBB-EE beyond its legal implications is important.
  • Listen to your team’s feedback.
  • Do what you preach. Develop leadership and diversity skills.

Create Successful Inclusivity at Your Workplace by Putting People First

When it comes to attracting and retaining diverse talent, the best advice is to put people FIRST. Bias-free and inclusive language plays a pivotal role in our process. With the right talent acquisition strategy, it’s not as difficult as you might imagine finding amazing candidates that perform well in the role.

We can help you help you find the best candidates for the role. Part of our offering includes helping you create and implement an effective hiring strategy that will deliver the results you need. In fact, we guarantee that you will hire 90% more successfully with Mint Kulca!

We can help you attract top-quality candidates and see success in the role advertised today.

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