8 Ways to Remove Gender Bias from Your Job Descriptions

Many businesses are moving in a positive direction when it comes to diversity in the workplace. This is great for so many reasons, and studies show that a diverse workforce contributes to more innovation and can even have a positive impact on profits. 

However, there is still a lot of progress that needs to be made. Consider some of these stats:  

We’re sure that most employers aren’t intentionally using exclusionary language in their job descriptions, but the fact remains that some language can be perceived as gender-specific by job seekers, causing them to think, “This job doesn’t sound like it’s for me.” Without inclusive job postings, you could be missing out on some great candidates and end up with a team that lacks varied perspectives and talents. 

Removing gender bias from your job descriptions is one incredibly important step to hiring and retaining more people from all backgrounds, so that you can benefit from a diverse and inclusive workforce. 

More than that, it can actually improve your recruiting efforts. For example, one software company saw an 80% increase in the hiring of women for some of their technical roles after making changes to their job descriptions. Plus, data suggests that gender neutral language actually increases the application rate and lowers the cost per application. 

Let’s go over eight changes you can make to your job postings to remove gender bias and promote more inclusive hiring practices

Removing gender bias from job descriptions 

1. Start with a gender neutral job title 

Your job title is extremely important, and you want to make sure that it’s helping the right people find and apply for your jobs. Believe it or not, terms like “wizard”, “hacker”, and “rockstar” can actually discourage women from applying, as they have male-oriented connotations. Plus, while you might think these irregular job titles are clever, they can actually negatively impact your job posting’s searchability on major job boards. Additionally, make sure not to use gendered terms like “waiter” or “waitress”. In this case, “restaurant staff” or “food and beverage server” would do. 

2. Pay attention to pronouns 

This is a pretty straightforward step to take in making your job descriptions gender inclusive. Simply make sure not to use “she” and “he” when describing the tasks of your open role. Use “you” instead. 

3. Use gender neutral language 

Often without realizing it, we use words that are “coded” or “charged” with a certain gender. For example, words like “aggressive” and “go-getter” are more likely to be associated with male stereotypes. Where female-coded language might be words like: “feisty” and “enthusiastic”. See the table below for a few more examples, that can help you check your own language neutrality in job postings: 

Try to limit gender coded words or lean towards more feminine-coded language as research shows that having feminine-coded job postings has relatively little impact on men and encourages more women to apply. Free gender decoders can also be a great tool to check your job ads; these tools can flag gendered words and offer neutral replacements. 

4. Use DEI platforms 

If possible for your business, outsourcing diversity initiatives to the experts can make a big impact on your hiring process. We recently partnered with Mathison, which in addition to helping us source diverse candidates, has their own bias scanner that we use on job descriptions. It not only scans for gender-charged terms – it also checks for accessibility, flagging jargon or buzzwords that could be exclusionary.

5. Limit requirements to what you actually need 

Did you know that women are less likely than men to apply to a job where they don’t meet 100% of the qualifications? With this in mind, while writing your job posting, think about which requirements are absolutely necessary for your position and which would just be an added bonus. 

And though some jobs do require a certain course of study, you may also be limiting your talent pool by naming a certain degree (or degrees) that you want candidates to have. If it’s not totally necessary, not requiring a college degree can remove a huge barrier to skilled applicants that might not have the means, financial resources, or opportunities to graduate from college. 

6. Build a culture of diversity and inclusion

Your company culture should shine in your job description. So, to remove gender bias from job descriptions, it can be helpful to have a culture that makes equity a priority. Before applying to your open roles, candidates will want to know that they are joining a culture where they will feel welcomed and can thrive. 

Consider adding a statement to the end of job descriptions that lets candidates know more about your culture and the steps you have taken to make your workplace a comfortable one for all. 

7. Share your company values 

Part of a good company culture is having the right values. If your company values promote diversity, you should definitely share them in your job posting. The right values can attract people who share your values to your job listings and give people a sense of what it might be like to work for you and what your company prioritizes. 

8. Offer the right benefits and share them in job postings 

Including benefits on job postings is always a good idea. But when paying more attention to gender equality, it can be helpful to make sure you are offering the right benefits and highlighting those in your postings. 

For example, do you offer childcare? This would be a really attractive benefit for a woman with children, part of a group that is significantly more likely to have to leave the workforce than men. 

How about a flexible schedule or unlimited paid time off (PTO)? 

The right benefits can encourage women that are often the primary household caretakers to apply to your open roles. 

Stay aware of all biases throughout the hiring process 

Gender bias is just one of the many biases that can negatively impact recruitment. As a next step, check out this video on hiring bias so that you can stay aware of the many types of unconscious biases that happen during hiring.

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