As in many firms, managers work with their talent acquisition team to craft a position description, the firm posts it out “there” and receives a diverse array of applicants. That’s good! Recently though, it seems like the posts in my corner of the world have not been attracting female applicants. I poked around the internet, I asked a couple members of management and our executive leadership team what they thought, and guess what? I got some good ideas, and wherever ideas abound, my inspiration to craft a blog article is not far behind. Here we go.
I’m a dude. I think like a dude. I write like a dude. Maybe a space-hippy, STEMish dude, but still a dude. And, as most people know, STEM is dude-heavy. Fostering diversity and inclusivity in the workforce is essential – lots of research to back that up, not going there in this post. I’d like to scope this post to the position descriptions we use for attracting talent, and per my challenge above, further focus the lens of this post on crafting gender-neutral position descriptions. I want to attract the hearts and minds of talented individuals across the gender-identity spectrum, ergo, this article will provide five proven and practical tips to make your job position descriptions more gender-neutral. OK, I hear they’ve been proven. Either way, in a few minutes, you will be ready to join me in utilizing these ideas, and writing job descriptions appealing to a wider talent pool. Upwards of 50% or more viable candidates who previously might not have been interested or felt qualified, might now take the time to actually apply. Amazing!
Five Tips to Gender-Inclusive Position Descriptions
- Focus on Essential Skills and Preferred Skills
When writing a position description, it’s important to differentiate between the essential and preferred skills. This distinction encourages applicants who may not meet every requirement but possess other valuable skills. Remember that female applicants tend to apply only when they meet a high percentage of the requirements, so being narrow with required skills and broad on preferred skills can open the door for more diversity in your applicant pool.
- Use Gender-Neutral Language
Avoid using gendered pronouns like “he” or “she” in your job descriptions. Instead, opt for neutral terms such as “they” or “the candidate.” Furthermore, ensure that the language used to describe the role and its responsibilities is also neutral. For example, use terms like “collaborative” instead of “assertive” and “results-driven” instead of “competitive.”
- Encourage Diverse Applicants
Add a statement to your job description that explicitly welcomes diverse applicants. This can be phrased along the lines of: “We encourage applicants who may not meet all requirements but believe they possess skills not mentioned in the position description that can fulfill what we are seeking. Our company values diverse perspectives and experiences.” As the research goes, this is something male applicants usually presume; however, it is something female applicants typically do not presume. Taking the time to call this out opens the door to folks who might not apply otherwise.
- Review and Revise the Job Descriptions and Processes
Make sure your team knows to use these practices when crafting position descriptions. Maybe provide a template that makes common language available, along with hints on how to best fill in the role requirements. Update existing job descriptions to follow these guidelines. Finally, as with most practices, come up with a way to measure for impact, then review and revise the process going forward.
- Consult External Resources
There are numerous resources available to stay current and create gender-neutral job descriptions. For example, the Gender Decoder tool can help identify and eliminate gendered language from your job descriptions. Additionally, organizations like Women in Technology and the National Center for Women & Information Technology offer resources and guidelines to promote diversity and inclusivity in the tech industry.
By following these five steps, you can create more gender-neutral job position descriptions that attract a diverse talent pool. Emphasizing the essential skills, using inclusive language, and encouraging diverse applicants will contribute to a more inclusive tech industry where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. I am looking forward to the results, so please let me know if you try this for yourself and what you find out as a result!