We know that having a more inclusive and diverse working environment is an advantage. In fact, research has shown that gender diverse organisations are 15% more likely to outperform those that are not. So there is a clear benefit to building teams and organisations that are more gender diverse.

Job descriptions are the first touch point

And this starts with your job descriptions. After all, they are often the first interaction someone has with your organisation. Thus, job descriptions are a fantastic opportunity to influence the makeup of your candidate pool.

In a job description, words are your number one tool. Yet academic research has demonstrated that many of the common words used in job descriptions have male or female associations. Although you may not mean to, the words you use in your job descriptions may well be attracting or repelling candidates based on their gender. And you could be losing top applicants because they are turned off by the language that you are using.

Work hard, play hard?

A good example would be the phrase ‘work hard, play hard’, which is often found in job descriptions. This could be interpreted as your organisation having a culture that requires employees to work longer or erratic hours or perhaps a lot of drinking after-hours. This could be off-putting to all types of people. Most likely it’ll be women and parents, who are unable to commit to very flexible working patterns or are not interested in après work tequila shots. Consider that you are also potentially excluding other communities such as those with religious beliefs or from cultures that do not drink alcohol. There is also an argument that the very ‘youthful’ inference of just this one phase could deter an older applicant too.

So, here are our 5 top tips to remove gender bias from your job descriptions.

1. Use a gender-neutral job title 

Seems obvious, doesn’t it? Let’s hire a postal worker, not a postman. Or waiting staff instead of a waitress. But if you are a tech start-up or have visions of being the next Google or Facebook, you may find yourself tempted to try something a bit different. Titles that include phrases such as Ninja, Hacker, Superhero or Guru are deemed to be inherently male. And as such, it is likely that you will put off women from applying. Go for more descriptive, gender neutral titles instead.

2. Check your gender pronouns

Avoid using gender pronouns when describing the responsibilities of the role, and use ‘you’ instead. For example:

‘As Customer Services Manager, you will be responsible for…’

This might seem obvious at first but is an easy mistake to make for international organisations where a translation is used, e.g., from French.

3. Avoid words that are gender charged

As an example, words like ‘analyse’ and ‘determine’ are typically associated with male traits, whereas ‘support’ and ‘collaborate’ are often considered female.

Based on academic research, the Gender Decoder has been developed and is a free tool you can use to highlight if your job description is biased towards male or female applicants.

Also, the use of excessive superlatives, e.g., ‘world class’ or ‘expert’ which can be particularly off putting for female candidates. According to research, women are less likely to brag about their accomplishments.

4. Consider your essential criteria

Carefully think about what a genuine requirement of the role is, and what is desirable or ‘nice to have’. Research by HBR has identified that quite often, women will not apply for a role unless they meet 100% of the requirements. Whereas men will apply if they meet 60%. If your job description lists criteria that isn’t really essential, take it out.

5. Promote your culture

Tell the world what you are doing to create a diverse and inclusive working environment. Some ideas include:

  • Expressing your commitment to equality and diversity, even if it’s just a simple statement at the end of your job description.
  • Let your values sell your organisation by including them in your job description.
  • Promote any volunteer opportunities or employee activities that demonstrate your commitment, e.g., mentorship programmes.
  • State your family friendly benefits.

Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to making your organisation a more inclusive workplace by attracting female candidates.

Want to know more? Get in touch today.

In the meantime, check our services as a HR Consultancy Birmingham.

You may also like:

  1. 5 Actions to Foster an Inclusive Workplace for LGBTQ+ Employees
  2. The Importance of Job Analysis
  3. HR Masterclass for Small Businesses: Recruitment