DEI in Job Descriptions

Many companies are becoming more aware and investing in initiatives to increase diversity and inclusion in their organizations. Companies with more diverse workforces outperform their less diverse peers. There are reasons to increase DEI efforts that go beyond financial performance, including talent attraction and retention, impacts on the company’s brand and reputation, and even evidence of better decision-making. One way companies can implement DEI practices starts well before the new hires do; it starts in job descriptions. 

Increase DEI Efforts with Inclusive Job Descriptions

Megan is an HR associate at a mid-sized tech company. Recently, she’s become concerned about the lack of diversity in the company’s hiring practices. Despite the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, Megan has noticed that hiring managers tend to hire candidates who are “like-minded” – many of whom come from the same schools and similar backgrounds. 

After researching, Megan discovered that the company’s job descriptions might contribute to the problem. Many of the job descriptions use biased language or inadvertently discourage specific groups of candidates from applying. As a result, the company may need to take advantage of opportunities to attract a more diverse range of candidates. 

To address this issue, Megan met with the hiring managers to discuss the importance of inclusive job descriptions. She wanted to provide them with a guide for creating job descriptions that are more inclusive and help them become more aware of the issue. 

Here’s a guide based on Megan’s research and the meeting she organized, along with sample job descriptions and a checklist to help hiring managers create more inclusive job descriptions. 

 Use Inclusive Language 

One of the most common ways job descriptions can exclude underrepresented talent is through the language used. Certain words and phrases can be perceived as gender-biased, ageist, or ableist and may discourage candidates from applying. To avoid this, be mindful of your language in job descriptions. 

 For example, rather than using gendered language like “he” or “she,” use gender-neutral language like “they” or “the candidate.” Avoid using age-specific language like “recent graduate” or “young and energetic.” Instead, focus on the required skills and experience for the job. Also, avoid using terms that suggest a certain level of physical or mental ability, such as “able-bodied” or “high-energy.” Instead, focus on the skills and qualifications necessary for the job. 

Here’s an example of a biased job description: 

“We’re looking for a recent college graduate who is young and energetic. Must be able to work long hours and have excellent communication skills.” 

 Here’s an example of an inclusive job description: 

“We’re looking for a candidate with a bachelor’s degree and 2-3 years of experience in a related field. Must have strong communication skills and work collaboratively with a team.” 

Using inclusive language can also encourage a more diverse range of candidates to apply. You’ll also want to use welcoming language that avoids assumptions about a candidate’s characteristics. 

For example, instead of using language like “rockstar” or “ninja,” which may be perceived as gender-biased or exclusive, use language that emphasizes the skills and qualifications necessary for the job. 

Here’s an example of an exclusive job description: 

“We’re looking for a social media rockstar who can take our social media presence to the next level.” 

 Here’s an example of an inclusive job description: 

“We’re looking for a candidate with experience in social media marketing and a track record of success in driving engagement and building a following.” 

Focus on the Required Skills and Experience 

Rather than emphasizing specific personal characteristics or traits, job descriptions should focus on the skills and experience necessary for the job. Friendly, unbiased language can encourage a more diverse range of candidates to apply. 

Here’s an example of a job description that emphasizes personal characteristics: 

“We’re looking for a go-getter with a can-do attitude who is a team player.” 

Here’s an example of an inclusive job description: 

“We’re looking for a candidate with experience in project management and a proven ability to work collaboratively with a team.” 

Partner with a Staffing Agency 

One way to reach a more diverse pool of candidates is to partner with a staffing agency specializing in diversity and inclusion. Staffing agencies have access to a broader pool of candidates. They can help you develop inclusive job descriptions, source diverse candidates, and provide training and support for a more inclusive workplace. 

 An Inclusivity Checklist 

 Are you being inclusive? Here’s a checklist you can use to scan your job descriptions for inclusivity: 

  • Is the language gender-neutral and inclusive? 
  • Does the job description focus on the required skills and experience rather than personal characteristics? 
  • Does the language avoid assumptions about a candidate’s personal traits? 
  • Does the job description use inclusive language? 
  • Have you considered partnering with a staffing agency specializing in diversity and inclusion? 

By using these best practices and partnering with a staffing agency, you can create inclusive job descriptions that attract a diverse pool of candidates, helping build a more inclusive and equitable workplace. 

DEI: An Ongoing Process 

While DEI can be measured, it’s not a destination so much as adopting a new way of doing things. Some steps include creating inclusive job descriptions that are mindful of language and focus on required skills and experience using inclusive language. Additionally, partnering with a staffing agency can help you attract a diverse range of candidates and build a more inclusive workplace culture. By implementing these practices, Megan and her colleagues took essential steps to expand their candidate pool and create a more diverse team, ultimately contributing to a more prosperous and equitable company. 








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