Job descriptions are the first point of contact between the company and the larger applicant pool. In the recruitment process, gendered language in job descriptions has the ability to significantly affect the candidates you attract to your application and eventually hire. It also has the tendency to make the role and organization less appealing to a certain gender. While organizations are not allowed to explicitly advertise for men or women, we find that gender preferences come out in subtle cues. This also hinders an organization’s efforts towards being more inclusive.
Additionally, when it comes to interviews, according to a Harvard Business Review (HBR) study, if you have only one female candidate in your candidate pool, the likelihood of them being hired is slim to none. On the other hand, having at least two women in the pipeline raises the likelihood of one of them being hired to 50%. Over and above this, with competition for the best talent being at an all-time high, companies must identify the biases in their recruitment processes and work to eliminate them.
In this blog, we tackle the different ways gendered language is presented in job descriptions. We also suggest ways in which hiring managers can avoid using them unknowingly to be more inclusive.
Job ads with gender charged language affect an applicant’s perceived sense of belongingness
Gendered wording creates perceptions about the workplace and often decreases the level of interest, especially in female candidates. Women tend to shy away from applying to jobs whose descriptions contain heavily gendered wording. This is not because they aren’t qualified for the jobs, but because the gendered wording implies the workplace is not gender diverse and that women wouldn’t belong there.
The opposite however does not affect application numbers from male candidates. Words such as ninja, guru, rockstar or hacker are often used to spruce up a job description. However, keep in mind that they are inherently associated with the male gender.
💡 Use gender-neutral descriptive words. Examples include project manager, consultant, developer to avoid putting off awesome candidates who might slip away.
Having too many requirements in a job description affects your pool
Research shows that female candidates are less likely to apply for a job if they do not meet 100% of the requirements listed, while male candidates only 60% of the same. With this in mind, in order to build a more gender-diverse and robust pipeline, it is important to ensure you have only the most critical requirements stated in your job descriptions.
💡 Keep your must-haves to a minimum where possible. Consider having a “nice to have” section that shows a clear difference between your must-haves to encourage more candidates to apply. Concise, easy to read job descriptions are known to attract a greater number of applications.
Mind your use of pronouns and adjectives to be more inclusive
When describing the tasks an ideal candidate is expected to take on, mind the pronouns and adjectives you use. By removing limiting pronouns and adjectives, you appear to be more inclusive. You also have an opportunity to choose from a broader applicant pool and increase your chances of hiring the best candidate. Alternatively, instead of describing an ideal candidate for a specific role, try listing the success metrics for the role. This way you have more people applying because they know they can achieve the goals set out for them rather than fitting into an ideal description.
💡 Lean towards the use of “You”, or “they”. For example, “ As the project manager, you will be expected to oversee the work of Analysts to meet client expectations.” Aim for more inclusive language.
Show your commitment to diversity and equality
Diversity & equality are even more important now as it has been proven to have a direct correlation to an organization’s bottom line. Reiterating your commitment to promoting an inclusive culture increases the appeal to your job openings. This helps to promote a more diverse applicant pool. You may also showcase your team on your career pages. Share some statistics on the composition of your team. You could also include a statement to let potential candidates know your organization promotes diversity. Make sure your equality statement is genuine and unique to your organization rather than a cut-and-paste or superficial one.
💡 Don’t miss an opportunity to showcase the benefits of working in your organization to potential candidates. Mention all the inclusive benefits that will appeal to a diverse group of people. Examples include parental leave or child care facilities etc.
Ultimately gender-inclusive language empowers everyone and should be practised internally before it translates outside of the organization. Keeping this in mind will help organizations bring great people on board and make the workplaces more inclusive.