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Five Tips for Writing an Inclusive Job Description

April 20, 2021
Five Tips for Writing an Inclusive Job Description

Cultivating an inclusive workplace should be top of mind for everyone in every industry, but starting this process at the job description is often overlooked. The progressive political space is no exception. Hiring managers, rushed for time, often reuse job descriptions from a previous campaign cycle and barely edit it for anything but the campaign name.

An inclusive job description says to a potential employee, if you have the experience, then you are welcome no matter your race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status, and the list goes on.

If your job description does not feel welcoming to all qualified candidates no matter their background, then there is very little chance that you will be able to create an inclusive work environment.

Take a look at your pool of applicants, and you aren’t seeing very many diverse applicants, then the chances are that the job description is unintentionally keeping them from applying. Below I have included some tips to help make your job description more inclusive, and I encourage you to remember that the landscape is constantly changing, and your job description should change as well.

1. Include Pay Rate

Many organizations believe that they will get a pool of higher qualified applicants if they exclude the pay rate. That just isn’t the case. You are, instead, weeding out many qualified candidates. Some will assume your planning to pay below the industry standard and won’t apply. Some will assume you plan to pay as little as possible based on discriminatory factors and won’t apply. Some will assume you have a culture of hiding pay rate in your organization and won’t apply. The only thing excluding the pay rate will do is cause people to make any number of assumptions about your organization, none of which are good. So include the pay rate to get qualified applicants who are willing to accept something in the range you are offering.

2. Be Intentional about Including Everyone

Many organizations believe they are doing this by including a generic statement at the bottom of the job description in italics that says we don’t discriminate on the basis of many things. I want to tell you that this generic statement leads me and many others to believe that a lawyer told your organization to include that to avoid a lawsuit. If you genuinely want to be intentional about including everyone, then you should consider making that statement both less generic and more prominent in your job description.
Create a statement that explains your organization’s commitment to inclusivity and include language about your company culture and talk about how you encourage those from all backgrounds to apply. This shows everyone who applies to your organization that equity and inclusion is important, and you won’t tolerate behavior that is inconsistent with that belief.

3. Avoid Jargon and Superficial Requirements

Creating a diverse inclusive, and welcoming work environment means hiring people from different backgrounds and life experiences. Forgoing jargon in a job description will allow people to more easily recognize that they may have the skills to fit into a job. They may learn the jargon when they are on the job, but there is no need to include it in the description.

This goes along with making sure your job description actually reflects what required skills you need someone to have, and not a wish list that you won’t consider when hiring. Job descriptions looking for “unicorns” pushes many people from diverse backgrounds to not apply because they feel they don’t qualify. I recommend you use The Management Center’s, Must-Haves Starter Kit to help you find the important required skills.

4. Make it Gender Neutral

Don’t overlook gender identity. People have a wide array of gender expression, and one of the fastest ways to be unwelcoming is to misgender someone or exclude them with the language you use. I recommend you use “you” instead of “he or she.” For example, (“You must have the following skills” instead of “He/She must have the following skills”) Making that change can make someone feel like they can be themselves when working at your organization. Also, don’t forget to make those same changes in your benefits language. For example, (“Parental Leave” instead of “Maternity Leave”)

5. Avoid Unconscious Bias

My final tip is to make sure more than one person has read the job description before you put it out to the public. We all have unconscious biases. Having someone from a different background than you read the job description can help you catch those biases. Especially in smaller organizations without a dedicated HR team, including others in your search efforts can help.

Looking for more resources on this topic? Check out these articles: