5 Tips for Writing Gender-Inclusive Job Descriptions

5 Tips for Writing Gender-Inclusive Job Descriptions

Your job postings may be excluding people and limiting your talent pipeline—it’s time for an update.

By Betsy Curtin

At Camber Outdoors, we partner with companies in the active-outdoor industries to help build equitable systems, a strong network of talent, and inclusive leadership practices to inspire workplaces truly for everyone. This is why we’ve curated an industry-wide job board that has more than 3,000 job listings from companies that value inclusion, equity, and diversity just as much as we do. Still, some of the same companies that are committed to DEI are at the same time creating job postings that are long, incredibly detailed, and filled with corporate jargon, all of which can deter diverse applicants and hurt your talent pipeline.

According to Harvard Business Review, men will apply to jobs when they meet 60 percent of the qualifications. Women, on the other hand, only apply when they think they’re 100 percent qualified. Building a diverse workforce with an equitable and inclusive culture takes time—if women and underrepresented groups don’t apply from the get-go, you’ll never get there. With these few tweaks, your job posts can attract a larger pool of quality candidates.

1. Be brief. 

Write your job postings succinctly to attract a larger pool of candidates.

Instead of: This position requires building strong cross-functional relationships in a highly matrixed organization.

Try: Able to build rapport across multiple departments.

2. Prioritize job requirements.

The average job seeker spends less than a minute reviewing a job listing, so use the qualifications section of your job description wisely. It’s not a wish-list. Delete the “nice-to-haves,” and prioritize what is necessary. For the requirements, soften your language with terms like “familiarity with,” “some experience in,” or “extra points for.” Even if you as an organization know there’s wiggle room on qualifications, candidates don’t see it that way, especially women (see the Harvard Business Review stat above). 

3. Use gender-neutral language. 

A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that women avoid applying to jobs when the description uses masculine words. Words like “ambitious,” “autonomous,” or even “ninja” and “guru” are masculine (feminine words include “loyal” and “considerate”). It’s unlikely that these particular words will stop having gender undertones soon, so to reach a more diverse candidate pool, simply rewrite your job descriptions to reduce gender bias. The Gender Decoder for Job Ads is a great tool for determining if your job description has gender connotations. 

4. Omit jargon. 

KPI, CTA, and P & L. OMG. Complex words or abbreviations can make some candidates feel inadequate for a position even if they’re qualified. According to Business Insider, young people are especially deterred by corporate lingo.  

Instead of: You’ll identify MQLs and measure KPIs.

Try: You’ll identify leads and help our team meet target goals.

5. Express your company’s purpose and values within the job description. 

Candidates are evaluating cultural diversity when they research your company and when they look at your job posts. If they’re interested in working in an inclusive workplace, stating your values can help someone decide if they want to spend 40-plus hours a week in your office. Gender-diverse companies are 15 percent more likely to outperform their competitors and ethnically-diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to do the same. Additionally, 46 percent of employees said they would only work for companies with sustainable business practices

Do you offer great benefits or maternity leave? Summer Fridays, flex hours, or a 37-hour workweek? Do you offer continued education opportunities? Boast a wellness program? If you’re committed to something as a company, say it loudly and frequently! 

A job posting is probably the first interaction a candidate has with your company’s brand. When you use inclusive language, you’re demonstrating your organization’s awareness when it comes to building an inclusive culture and cultivating a workforce that doesn’t all look, think, and act the same. That’s a win for everyone.

Formerly the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition (OIWC)

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