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Writing inclusive job ads

Diversity in the workplace increases profitability. How? A wider range of talent spanning genders, ethnicities and age groups provides more detailed insights into the needs of your client or customer base. A greater understanding of your customer base means you can sell to them more effectively. 

This is why writing inclusive job ads is a priority for every progressive business on the planet.  

But how do you write inclusive job advertisements? Never underestimate the power of words.

Let’s take a look at an example of the copy for a job advertisement posted in 2018.

Do you think this job advertisement will attract more male or female applicants? 

Adzuna CEO Raife Watson points to both the phrasing and word choice in this job advertisements as being deterrents to female applicants.

“Name five rockstars. The first that come to my mind are Elvis, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jimmi Hendrix and Jimmy Barnes. 

“From the outset this job advertisements discourages women to apply. The phrase  ‘if you don’t feel like you’re a digital media Rockstar, stop reading right now. This is NOT the role for you’, is downright aggressive.

“And look at that final sentence. Paid handsomely. We all know it means to be paid well, but the word ‘handsomely’ carries masculine connotations. I’d be surprised if a single woman applied for this job,” Watson said.

Writing inclusive job ads is no longer an art, it’s a science. Seattle-based Textio, an “augmented writing software” company, uses artificial intelligence to examine job descriptions in real time, highlighting any terms that could come across as exclusionary. The software then suggests alternatives.

The results of using this software for improving diversity is astonishing. Australian tech unicorn Atlassian recorded a staggering increase of 80% in the hiring of women for technical roles over a two-year period using Textio to write inclusive job descriptions. 

The example of ‘Digital Rockstar’ is not dissimilar to ‘Coding Ninja’, which is a phrase Textio suggests avoiding.

Here is our guide to writing inclusive job advertisements:

 

  1. Remove jargon and superlatives from the job title 

 

Let’s revisit the previous example of “Head of Digital Media (Digital Rockstar.)” 

Rockstar = gone. It doesn’t add to the job description, it serves only to repel potential candidates. 

Now, what exactly does “Head of Digital Media” mean? Even for those who work in the digital media industry the job title is ambiguous. Is the business looking for a digital marketing manager, a head of digital strategy, or someone from a social media background with managerial experience? It isn’t clear. 

The third paragraph of the job description reveals the business is looking for a candidate with experience leading a team in media buying. 

Our suggestion would be simply “Senior Digital Media Buyer.” The word ‘head’ could be intimidating for many people, even if they have a decade of managerial experience. 

  • Establish your commitment to equality and diversity in the first sentence. 

 

 

“At XXXX, we believe a diverse workplace is a happy workplace. A culture of equality where ideas are shared is the cornerstone of our business.” 

This simple opening to a job description makes it clear your company values inclusivity and diversity. 

 

  • Limit the Number of Requirements

 

Research shows most women won’t apply for jobs unless they are 100% qualified, while men will apply if they meet 60 percent of the requirements. 

List the “must have” skills and hold back on the “nice to have” skills. 

 

  • Promote current examples of inclusivity in the “perks” section

 

Many businesses list free breakfast, trips to the Hunter Valley, and Friday drinks in the perks section of a job advertisement. 

This is the perfect opportunity to showcase the activities at your promoting inclusivity. This could include:

  • A morning tea for International Women’s Day.
  • Once a month colleagues bring in a dish from their home country to share with the team.
  • Indigenous keynote speakers sharing their stories. 

 

  • We are in this together

 

Research suggests that job advertisements that use “you” and “we” attract higher applications.  Expressions like “you enjoy working in a team environment ” to address candidates are much better than impersonal phrases like “the ideal candidate”.