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Breaking the Bias: Tips for Writing Job Posts that Attract Diverse Candidates

Nadia Clarke

Mon, 24 Jul, 2023

  • Reading Time:
    ~ 4 minutes

Have you ever wondered who your job adverts attract? Are you puzzled as to why there are so few women or underrepresented talent applying for your company’s roles? According to Forbes, the language used in job postings has a significant impact on who applies for jobs and subsequently sustains or widens the pay gap. In this article, we’ll provide you with some strategies to remove bias from your job postings and attract a diverse pool of candidates.

Why should you remove bias from job posts?

Research collected by the Harvard Business Review finds that bias interferes with diversity, recruiting, promotions, and retention efforts in the workplace. If not addressed the right way, it can create a vicious circle of reinforced stereotypes and a culture of toxicity and exclusion that doesn’t make for a healthy work environment. According to Mckinsey, gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform those that aren’t. It’s, therefore, in every company’s best interest to not only prioritise having more diverse teams but also look at the leadership makeup of those teams. Ultimately, the goal should be to create an inclusive and more equitable workplace for all and start as early as the job advertisement.

Strategies to remove bias from job postings

  1. Use Gender-Neutral Language

Compared to other languages, English isn’t particularly gendered. However, when it comes to pronouns, or most notably, jobs, gendered language is more apparent. For example, “waiter” vs. “waitress” or “actor” vs. “actress.” This often leads to a job being associated with a particular gender. According to Appcast’s “Impact of Gendered Wording on Candidate Attraction” Report, even though job ads that use gender-neutral language perform “overwhelmingly” better, it’s only used about 38% of the time. It is a balancing act because some words play into female stereotypes and others play into male stereotypes. Both can discourage the opposite party from applying. For example, research shows that adjectives like “competitive” and “determined” can deter women and lead them to believe that they wouldn’t belong in that kind of work environment. Words like “collaborative” and “cooperative,” however, tend to attract more women than men. Also, always opt for gender-neutral titles in your posts, such as using “Chairperson” rather than “Chairman.”

  1. Check Pronouns

The easiest way to make job ads and descriptions more gender inclusive is to pay attention to pronouns. Avoid using gendered pronouns like “he,” “she,” “him,” “his,” and “her” when describing the role or any of its related tasks and stick to “you” instead.

  1. Limit the Requirements

Did you know that men will apply for a job they only meet 60% of the qualifications for, but women will only apply if they meet 100%? When defining the major requirements for a role, try to take this into account and mention only what’s necessary. Anything else can be listed as a nice-to-have. You could also be limiting your talent pool by asking for specific degrees, qualifications, or courses. It poses a significant obstacle if it’s not necessary. Removing the need for a degree opens it up to anyone who might not have the means or opportunity to graduate from university but still have the skills and experience that you need.

  1. Make Equality and Diversity a Part of Your Culture

Candidates need to get a feel for your culture before they even apply. They need to know they’ll be welcome and supported before they apply. So make a point towards the end of the job post to emphasise just how important diversity and equality are at your company. It helps set the intention that you’re committed to making the workplace a friendly and inclusive environment for all employees.

Top Tools to Reduce Gender Bias in Job Descriptions

Gender bias in job descriptions is a pervasive issue that can negatively impact a company’s recruitment efforts. It’s essential to create job descriptions that attract a diverse pool of candidates and promote an inclusive work environment. Fortunately, there are various online tools that can help identify and eliminate gender bias in your job postings. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most effective tools available to recruiters and hiring managers.

Gender Decoder: Identifying Problematic Word Choices

One of the most widely used and free tools to help reduce gender bias in job descriptions is Gender Decoder. The tool identifies problematic word choices and suggests ways to address them. It goes beyond just gendered language and dives into nuances, providing specific recommendations on how to use more inclusive language.

Eploy: Checking for Unconscious Gender Bias

Eploy’s ‘Check My Job’ tool is another excellent resource for reducing gender bias in job descriptions. The tool checks job descriptions for unconscious gender bias, length, and recruitment best practices. It provides a score that indicates whether your post is Masculine, Feminine, or Neutral Coded, and prompts you to provide an equal opportunities statement if it doesn’t detect one.

Applied Text Analysis: Promoting Inclusivity and Readability

Applied Text Analysis is another valuable tool for reducing gender bias in job descriptions. The tool provides an inclusion score that shows factors that help to make your job appealing to a broader audience, as well as a conversion score that lets you know how likely your post is to be read and understood. The higher the score out of 100, the better.

Textio: Calculating Gender Bias

Textio is a tool that calculates gender bias in job descriptions. It is also a platform that Fulcrum uses for our partners. The tool identifies language patterns that are considered gendered by looking at how the wording statistically changes the proportion of men and women who respond to a job post with the help of outcomes within their customers’ hiring data.

In summary

Promoting diversity and inclusion in your hiring process is not only the right thing to do, but it also benefits your company in the long run. By embracing diversity and creating an inclusive workplace culture, you’ll attract a wider pool of talent and foster a more innovative and collaborative environment. So take the time to evaluate your hiring practices and make the necessary changes to ensure that diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of your recruitment efforts.

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