Where is bias occurring in the job description?
When posting a job advert, it’s not enough to simply click the post button without further thought of the bias that can occur within the description.
The job description is the first point of contact between the employer and candidate. It’s the first opportunity to establish inclusivity and promote diversity in your recruiting strategy.
During a candidate’s hiring journey, they will refer to the job description as a resource when crafting their application and even later on during the interview stage. That is why it’s essential to include inclusive language and be aware of potential bias within the job description. A little tip to help you do this is by putting yourself in the candidate’s shoes. Think of a person completely opposite to yourself and review the job description as if they would.
If you fail to eliminate bias you risk discouraging applicants from applying and losing out on top talent.
Here are five examples of common bias mistakes people make in job descriptions:
1. Requesting a ‘recent’ graduate
Placing a time stamp inside a job description will automatically result in bias. There’s no need to state ‘recent’ in your preference for a graduate. By adding a time reference to your job description, you are discriminating against older candidates. People graduate at all different stages of their life and a simple wording change to requesting a ‘degree (in related field)’ is much more effective in providing all qualified graduates with a chance.
2. Specifying an English speaker
Phrases such as “strong English-language skills” or “speak excellent English” can stop qualified non-native English speakers from applying. To ensure the job description does not discriminate, use phrases such as, “strong communications skills.” Or “expert communicator” instead. As these terms are much more inclusive and will remove bias that could have occurred if you had set specific language criteria.
3. Must live locally
Proximity bias is a real concern in the hybrid world of work that we now live. The phenomenon occurs when a candidate is favoured by being physically closer to positions of authority in the workplace. This special type of preferential treatment means recruiters can easily fall into the trap of insisting candidates must live close to be considered for the position. But it’s an ineffective method to recruit. It means discriminating against candidates who are willing to travel to work or hybrid and remote workers.
4. ‘Lively and young’ office workplace culture
It’s extremely important to be careful with the language you use to describe workplace culture. Prioritising organisational culture in the recruitment process has been scrutinized recently. Some argue there are subsequential damages to diversity in promoting a way of work and working environment that may not be inclusive to all new employees.
Many organisations can fall into the trap of advertising their company as a fun and lively place to be but in doing so will unconsciously target and favour the younger workforce.
5. Including gender-associated terms
Research shows that 60% of businesses show a significant male bias in their job adverts. Job descriptions with more masculine-sounding words would have a negative impact on encouraging female applicants to apply. Subtle wording has a huge impact on gender bias and words such as ‘competitive’ and ‘lead’ are male associated whereas ‘share’ and ‘support’ are female.
Play neutral and always check job descriptions for gender bias using analysis tools to help present wording you may not realise in male-focused.