Using DEI Language To Create More Inclusive Job Descriptions

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Bruna Vasconcelos
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Bruna Vasconcelos
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Head of People
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Learn how to write inclusive job descriptions that support your organization's DEI objectives by attracting diverse, top-tier candidates.
Published on
April 16, 2024
Updated on
April 16, 2024

When it comes time to fill an open position, writing inclusive job descriptions for a diverse pool of candidates is crucial for finding the best fit and meeting an organization's diversity, equity, and inclusion, or DEI, standards.

Promoting diversity in a company comes with multiple benefits, such as improved innovation through varied perspectives, a better brand reputation, and higher employee retention. Fostering a company culture of diversity and inclusion takes time and begins with the company's DEI hiring strategies.

Filling in a standard job description template itself won't bring forth a broad range of candidates who create and add to a dynamic organization. Here are seven elements to consider when writing an inclusive job description with DEI language.

1. Highlight Commitment to DEI

Writing an inclusive job description should start with DEI initiatives in mind. Making it clear to applicants that the company encourages a range of candidates to apply for open positions ushers in more diverse talent. Highlighting inclusive benefits such as flexible working arrangements, parental leave, and the availability of employee resource groups may attract a broader range of candidates. Emphasizing the company’s commitment to fostering a respectful and inclusive workplace environment should be a priority. Some companies include DEI statements in the job description to convey this message.

Mentioning that the company is an equal opportunity employer further welcomes applicants. While it’s not required, many organizations include an equal employment opportunity, or EEO, statement in their job descriptions. An EEO statement affirms that this organization promotes diversity and inclusion, doesn’t use discriminatory hiring practices on candidates based on status, including gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, religion, and age, and actively works to build and manage multicultural teams.

2. Avoid Gender-Coded Language

One way to reach a broader, more diverse talent pool is to avoid using language that may contain gender bias. Job descriptions that aren’t carefully crafted may exclude certain genders, causing them to assume the role isn’t a good fit. Many are aware that they/them pronouns are more inclusive than he/him and she/her, but other words often make a job description lean towards a certain gender as well. Gender-neutral wording will create a more welcoming DEI job description that will attract more job seekers.

Some DEI terms to avoid include gender-coded language. Gender-coded language that appears in day-to-day life may be challenging to identify. Job seekers may tie certain words to specific genders. Some words that many consider connected to masculine traits are male-coded words that may exclude female applicants. These words include ambitious, confident, driven, decisive, dominant, and fearless. Words that many classify as feminine language include collaborative, honest, loyal, patient, committed, and enthusiastic. Hiring managers may use gender decoders, tools that help highlight gender bias in words, to write gender-neutral job descriptions.

Using gender-neutral job titles also makes a job description more inclusive. Instead of writing gender-specific titles, such as waiter or stewardess, take a gender-neutral approach with titles such as server and flight attendant. Carefully reading and revising a job description to remove words that refer to one gender over another is vital.

3. Be Mindful of Cultural and Racial Bias

Job descriptions that unknowingly favor candidates from specific backgrounds over others are problematic. Some instances of cultural or racial bias may be easier to spot than others. Mentioning or referencing any race or national origin will limit the scope of your job search and ostracize many candidates.

Less evident examples of cultural and racial bias in job descriptions may come from excluding certain types of clothing or headwear. References to language proficiency may unknowingly shun qualified candidates who are not native speakers. Hiring managers can mention language proficiency requirements when they are not one of the primary job requirements used to filter out applicants, such as for language teacher or copy editor positions.

There are also practices beyond the scope of job descriptions that may help eliminate cultural and racial biases in the hiring process, opening the positions to those of underrepresented groups. Limiting referrals may reduce the possibility of building up a talent pool of candidates with similar cultural backgrounds to current employees. Using a standardized set of interview questions will also reduce the influence of unconscious bias and simplify the process of comparing candidates throughout the talent acquisition process.

4. Recognize Age Bias

Opening up job descriptions to people of any age is another way to meet DEI objectives in the recruitment process. Many job descriptions display age biases that put off older candidates. Words or phrases such as digital native, rockstar, dynamic, and technologically savvy tend to tilt the job description toward a younger audience. Older candidates may read these terms and choose not to apply, assuming they don’t fit the position.

5. Show Support for Disabled Employees & Candidates

Gender and racial discrimination often overshadows bias against disabled candidates, but it is vital to refrain from ableist language in job descriptions to ensure that they are welcoming to all applicants. A lot of ableist language goes unnoticed as it is common in everyday speech, but using it may alienate top candidates.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, provides language to consider that makes job descriptions more inclusive for candidates with disabilities. Hiring managers should replace words such as walk, talk, see, and smell with more inclusive terms like move, communicate, perceive, and detect. The ADA also notes that when physical demands aren’t an imperative part of a job, organizations shouldn’t include them in their job descriptions.

Including an accessibility accommodation statement on job descriptions is also a best practice. These statements guarantee accessibility for individuals with disabilities. They recognize the various needs of individuals with disabilities and include details about the accommodations provided. An accessibility accommodation statement emphasizes the organization’s commitment to inclusivity and equal access for all employees and candidates.

6. Focus on Skills

Job descriptions should be results-based and focus on the skill sets and competencies of the candidate. A job description that emphasizes educational background or past work experience may rule out many capable candidates. A better practice is to focus on the skills needed to perform the work effectively.

Including a lengthy list of required skills may also limit the amount of interested applicants for a role. A checklist of skills the perfect candidate possesses will intimidate some candidates and shrink the talent pool. To remain inclusive, job descriptions should list the position's daily responsibilities. Consider that many applicants may not have the perfect combination of skills but can learn and adapt to new work environments. Promoting this concept through continuous improvement and on-the-job training helps build trust in a team and fosters a longer relationship with employees.

Avoiding affinity bias is also essential to maintain an inclusive workforce. When writing job descriptions or conducting interviews, it may be easy for hiring managers to unconsciously favor candidates that have similar backgrounds. There are many different instances when affinity bias occurs, including in shared universities, locations, and religions.

7. Avoid Complex Language

Simplifying job descriptions so that they don’t include complicated jargon and buzzwords will also increase inclusivity. Hiring managers may use corporate speech to attract customers with previous experience working in a similar space, but this will also alienate many talented candidates who may not be as familiar with the terms.

Hiring managers may unknowingly include industry-specific jargon in job descriptions, as it’s familiar to their day-to-day communication. Industry-specific jargon will likely deter candidates who have recently graduated or are making a career change. Making a conscious effort not to use complex language in job descriptions helps attract job seekers whose skills may align with the open position.

Inclusive Job Descriptions Lead To Inclusive Company Culture

Being able to write inclusively is a skill that hiring managers need to practice. Many unconscious biases in day-to-day speech often go overlooked. Putting in the effort to write inclusive DEI job descriptions will expand the talent pool of possible candidates, strengthen brand reputation, and foster a company culture of acceptance that will help attract and retain employees.

Build a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace With LatAm Developers

Writing inclusive job postings is an organization's first step to meeting DEI goals and diversifying their workplace. While important, crafting the perfect diversity and inclusion job description takes time and effort. Utilizing talent-sourcing agencies like Revelo can help you minimize the amount of time spent recruiting a dynamic and diverse workforce.

At Revelo, we assist companies in finding top talent for their development teams. Our talent pool of Latin American developers allows organizations to diversify their tech teams with high-quality developers at a fraction of the price. We pre-vet our developers to ensure technical, soft, and English skills. Revelo also assists in onboarding in areas such as payroll, taxes, benefits administration, and local compliances. We remain supportive throughout the developer's tenure to ensure their engagement and retention.

Contact Revelo to hire developers and support your organization’s DEI objectives.

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