Are You Creating Diverse and Inclusive Job Descriptions?
Did you know that the tone, words and the wishlist you use in a job spec will have an impact on who applies to the job you’ve listed? It’s very true, for example, women are less likely to apply to roles if they don’t check every requirement listed. There have been many surveys on this particular topic, like the Harvard Business Review- Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified.
In that particular study, they found that one of the main reasons people don’t apply to jobs is less based on the fact that they don’t believe they can do the job and more based on the hiring process itself. They believe that if they didn't have every qualification mentioned, they wouldn’t even be considered in the first place and hence would be a waste of time.
So, lack of confidence is not the issue but rather the absence of information on the hiring process as a whole. By creating a job description that is not inclusive you are filtering out your talent pool and building a less diverse team at the very first step.
So, why is it important to have a diverse workforce?
A diverse employee pool delivers better results: Companies with gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their industry average.
Increased productivity: Various cultures and backgrounds, creates a wider channel of ideas, which will help in enhancing processes and resulting in better productivity. Different experiences are valuable, this will only enrich what your organisation has to offer.
Enhanced reputation: Today’s workforce has a greater focus on the company's values. We recently conducted a survey to understand the importance of diversity in a job search process for candidates in the market, and to no surprise, it was rated ‘extremely important’.
People understand the importance of providing equal opportunities and the benefits that surround it. If they notice a lack of support by a company, when it comes to diversity and inclusion, the company will automatically drop to the bottom of the candidate’s wishlist.
Connect with a wider customer base: Companies with better representation are more likely to attract a wider customer base.
Simply, why not? It’s 2022, we no longer need to make a case on why inclusion is important, it just is. It has always been. Everyone requires an equal chance at a job they have the skills for.
The hiring process should take into account the varied requirements necessary to secure a diverse talent pool and have a set process to continuously increase awareness within the organisation to cater to everyone’s needs.
How to write an inclusive job description
Now that we have read through the why’s, let's dive into the how’s. To create the best and most inclusive employee experience, we need to start at the very beginning- the job description.
While creating an effective job description, think about what your ideal candidate would look like in terms of skills they should bring to the table and what can be learnt on the job. Create a job spec that will speak to everyone so that you can avoid filtering out qualified candidates based on the language being used.
Let’s take a close look at what can be done:
Use inclusive job titles: Steer clear of terms such as ‘Rockstars’ or ‘Guru’, which are generally associated with male-dominated cultures and not all candidates will identify with these gender-coded words. Focus on using more general terms such as ‘Software Engineer’, ‘Project Manager’, etc. You can use this handy tool which will help you spot gender biases in your job specs.
Avoid biases: Adopt gender-neutral language in your descriptions. By using gendered pronouns in your job spec, you’re excluding a group of candidates in the first step. For example, instead of saying “we’re hiring a Software Engineer and he will be responsible for”, say “We’re hiring a Software Engineer and you will be responsible for”. This way you will be able to keep away from unconscious gender biases.
Choice of words: The best job descriptions will encourage those with a growth mindset to apply. People with growth mindsets love to learn, be challenged and be willing to make mistakes. Conversely, people with fixed mindsets don't try new things at the risk of failure and often make excuses instead of taking responsibility. Inform all potential candidates that they will have the opportunity to learn and develop their skills. Use words like ‘taking on challenges’ and ‘finding solutions’.
For example, STEM courses are generally male-dominated, which means women candidates are less likely to have a traditional background. Highlighting your development programmes will provide all candidates with the confidence to apply. Add in phrases like “we are looking for people who are keen to learn”.
Requirements listed: Be mindful of your list of must have’s. This should more likely be a condensed list, with certain key requirements. All those skills that can be acquired on the job through training, should be listed under ‘nice to have’. This way you will be able to assure the candidate from the get-go, that you’re willing to support and help them grow. This will help in attracting a more diverse talent pool. Also, a job spec should not just be about what the candidate ‘must have’. It should also be about what opportunities they will get. What will the candidate get from the company? Share these as they can be compelling.
Highlight your commitment to equal opportunity: Make it clear that everyone is welcome to apply for a role in your company. Sharing the message that you intend to make the workplace a friendly, and collaborative place will reassure candidates that it’s a place to learn and develop, and a place they can be themselves. This will make all the difference. Showcase your values and highlight your diversity and inclusion initiatives.
If you’re committed to creating an inclusive environment, hopefully, this guide will help you kick-start that journey. We’re also learning every day, so if you feel that there are key points that should be included in this blog, please feel free to get in touch with us, we would be happy to include them.