Want to Write More Inclusive Job Adverts? Here’s How

In a time where organisations are ramping up their equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) efforts, adopting more inclusive hiring practices is a priority for many HR professionals.

Why? Put simply, diverse workforces are proven to be more successful. In fact, gender diverse companies are found to perform 15% better and ethnically diverse companies are found to perform 35% better than their competitors, according to a study by McKinsey Global Institute. What’s more, for every 10% increase in gender diversity amongst senior management, it’s found that EBIT increases by 3.5% (and 1.4% for board members).

It’s unsurprising that a diverse workforce delivers better company performance; after all, greater diversity amongst your staff brings diverse ideas, which fuel innovation and can help your business set itself apart from the competition.

So how do you attract more diverse candidates?

There are plenty of talent attraction initiatives you can undertake to attract a more diverse range of candidates. However, we believe that ensuring every aspect of your hiring process is inclusive is a good place to start. And what’s the first stage of that process? Your job advert.

An inclusive job advert goes way past the obvious point of not being discriminatory. Your job advert should aim to encourage applicants, not discourage them from applying. You should aim to provide potential applicants with all the tools they need to be successful.

But how do you make sure that your adverts are as inclusive as possible?

Audit your existing job adverts

Start by looking at your adverts in their current format. Do they give enough information? Are they confusing? Would they make you want to apply for a job with your company? If you’ve written the adverts yourself, ask your colleagues to cast a critical eye over them.

It’s also worth taking stock of your current challenges. Are you struggling with diversity within a specific area of your business or across your entire organisation? Are there any external factors that could be causing this lack of diversity (for example, less females pursuing STEM-based career paths).

Use less gendered language

Gendered language doesn’t just refer to clearly gendered job titles, such as Air Hostess or Site Foreman; this goes a lot deeper into the language you use to describe the job itself, as well as the kind of person you’re looking for.

There has been extensive research into the use of gendered language in job adverts. Some words are coded to appeal more to females, others are coded more towards males. For example ‘supportive’ and ‘collaborative’ are found to be words with a feminine bias, whereas ‘decisive’ and ‘confident’ were found to be masculine coded words.

To see how your current job adverts perform, try running them through one of the various free online tools, such as this gender decoder from Kat Matfield.

Go beyond your equal opportunities statement

Many companies include an equal opportunities statement at the bottom of their job advert to tell the reader that they’re committed to diversity. However, you need to show, not tell. Diversity isn’t just a box ticking exercise; if you’re committed to building a diverse workforce and providing equal opportunities for all, this should shine through within the entirety of your job advert.

For example, when talking about your office environment, make the point that it’s spacious and accessible. If not, state as part of your application process that you can make arrangements to accommodate any disabilities.

Don’t overload your advert with essential criteria

It’s important to attract candidates who possess the right skills to perform the job in question. However, if you find that your adverts regularly feature long lists of essential and desired criteria, it’s time to cut back. This is particularly true for lower level roles, where soft skills and attitude are usually more important.

Asking for long lists of essential criteria can even put off the most qualified candidates. For example, it’s been found that women won’t apply for roles unless they meet 100% of the essential criteria for a job whereas men will apply if they meet just 60% of the criteria, according to research conducted by Hewlett Packard.

By asking for a long wish list of skills that aren’t really essential, you could be excluding a lot of potentially strong candidates.

Keep language simple

When writing your advert, don’t overcomplicate things. Resist using internal parlance and unfamiliar acronyms; the information about the job should be clear and simple for anyone to understand. If the reader is left feeling confused after reading your advert, it’s unlikely that they’ll want to apply for the job.

It’s also vital to clearly signpost how candidates can apply for the job and what the next stage of the process is. Will they be required to submit an online application? Or will they need to email their CV? Make sure your instructions are clear.


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