Greater Inclusion Starts by Stopping These Two Things

The issues surrounding diversity in the workforce have been covered in depth. You know about them, and you know the benefits that your organization can reap through building diverse teams. You also know that If you work in a sector that is desperately short on talent — and you probably do — then you can’t afford to ignore, let alone turn off, potential recruits.

Make no mistake. Achieving genuine inclusivity is a long-term goal, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can start doing immediately — like improving your job ads. Sure, you want to do things like make your application process as open as possible, but that’s a wasted effort if people have been put off before filling out your application.

Inclusivity in your workplace begins with inclusive job adverts. Here are two easy actions you can take now — not in a month, not in a week, but today! — to update your job ads and foster greater inclusion

1. Stop Hiring Ninjas

A key aim of many companies is to attract more female candidates. Unfortunately, the language in job ads can discourage women from applying. It’s not uncommon to see ads, especially in tech, looking for “ninjas” or “warriors” needed to “smash” a project. You might want your job ad to be colorful and attention-grabbing, but research shows that this kind of language, which relies on stereotypically masculine descriptions, results in far fewer applications from women. 

One study carried out by the augmented writing company Textio revealed that for jobs where a man was hired, the original ad contained twice as many masculine as feminine phrases. The research also found that the reverse was true for jobs where a female applicant was successful. 

This is a fixable problem. After making a conscious effort to address language as it relates to gender, Australian company Atlassian noticed an 80% increase in applicants from women.

2. Stop Recycling

Instead of looking at what was needed last time you hired for this role, speak to the hiring manager and find out what’s required now. Jobs and departments evolve. Shouldn’t job descriptions?

For instance, is a driving license really essential, or just a personal preference? If the latter, then there’s a good chance that people with disabilities could be dissuaded from applying.

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Here’s another example: When hiring someone to lead a project in its early stages, you might need an experienced leader to help a novice team through the initiative’s early stages. Now suppose that leader moves on and you must replace the individual. Experience becomes less important now that the team is more capable, but unless you change your job description, you risk putting off a broad range of talented candidates who are eager and capable of learning. Nevermind that if you’re unnecessarily asking for a certain level of experience, especially without presenting an equivalent alternative, you could be alienating people of certain ages. 

Bigger & Better 

A more inclusive job ad will bring in a much more diverse (and bigger) pool of talent. Translation: More résumés on your desk, more opportunities to hire quality applicants, more business success.

Research shows that more inclusive companies are 35% more likely to succeed than competitors with a more homogenous workforce. Extending this effort to leadership also brings results, as businesses with equal (or even greater) female representation in management report faster year-on-year growth

Ultimately, the first point of contact with any potential candidate is often your job advert. It’s plain common sense to make it as inclusive as possible to showcase your company in the best possible light. The competition for the best candidates can be tough — but creating more inclusive job ads doesn’t have to be.

Danielle Ramsbottom is director of client management for niche IT staffing firm Frank Recruitment Group. With almost two decades’ of experience in the recruitment industry, she has helped organizations across Europe create inclusive hiring strategies. 

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