What makes job ads inclusive?

Firstly, what does it mean to have inclusive job ads?

It means that when any person is reading it, they do not feel isolated, unqualified, or deterred due to non-neutral language that can seem bias towards certain groups of people.

A non-inclusive job ad example we have seen before includes an ad referring to the potential candidate as a ‘he’ – completely ignoring any potential female or differently gendered candidates.

So, how does an agency or employer ensure that their job ads are inclusive?  

Here are our top three tips to make sure your job ad is inclusive, neutral, and fair, where anybody would feel comfortable applying!

Be super conscious of biased language

Biased language is language that naturally favours a certain group of people and marginalises other groups when used.  

Here is a list of language to be wary of using:

  • Avoid gender-coded words

Gender-coded words are words that are connected to a certain gender due to common societal constructs. For example, words such as ‘compassionate’ or ‘supportive’ are often linked to women, and words such as ‘assertive’ and ‘driven’ are linked to men. If using personal attributes to describe your potential candidate, make sure to either have a reasonable balance between ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ words or try to use describing words that are more gender-neutral.

  • Do not use specific pronouns, like he/her. Try to say things like ‘The ideal candidate will…’ or ‘Apply if you have…’ or ‘The applicant will…’
  • Don’t mention race or ethnicity.
  • Avoid saying ‘strong-English skills required’ as this may deter people whose second language is English.
  • Don’t mention physical appearance, as this has no pertinence to how someone can perform their work.
  • Avoid the phrase ‘cultural fit’ and focus on demonstrating your values instead.  
  • Unless purely hiring for a graduate program or initiative, avoid language that mentions age, such as ‘young’ or ‘energetic’.
  • Avoid words that can isolate people with physical disabilities, such as ‘walk’, ‘drive’, or ‘talk’, as you can easily replace them with more neutral language like ‘move’, ‘access to transport’, or ‘communicate’.
  • You may want to include a note to show you are open to differently-abled people, such as ‘Anyone with the ability to complete the above work responsibilities with or without reasonable accommodations will be considered'.
  • Promote flexible work as this can help many people from diverse backgrounds.

Be open to skillsets that do not come from formal qualifications or higher education

By focusing solely on formal qualifications, you can disqualify candidates from lower socio-economic backgrounds who weren’t able to attend university, or people who are changing careers, or coming back to work after some time off. If applicable, mention that there is room to grow and upskill within the role, or that transferable skills will be welcomed.  

If there are strong requirements for certain skills, mention the technical skills specifically.

Mention your goals for diversity

One way to make sure no one feels unwelcomed by your job ad is to let them know of your diversity goals and initiatives. This can be a one or two-sentence paragraph placed at the end of your ad to let people know that, as an employer, you are committed to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. You can also mention initiatives you already have in place to let potential applicants know what is important to you. This is a value add that can go a long way in making someone feel more comfortable to apply.