gender neutral job ads

How companies can create gender-neutral job ads

Sarah Linney
27 Jul
Reading time: 6 minutes
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Crafting the perfect job description is an art form, and it’s not something employers should take lightly. As the world continues to progress towards inclusion and acceptance on a larger scale, more companies want to post gender-neutral job ads to encourage people of all identities and pronouns to apply. 

But how do you create a gender-neutral job ad? And how can companies teach their in-house HR teams and talent acquisition professionals about writing and creating gender-neutral job ads? Let’s find out! 

5 tips to create gender-neutral job ads 

When writing gender-neutral job ads, stripping your descriptions of words viewed as either male- or female-oriented is a great place to start. 

Yet, at the same time, that’s only the beginning. There is so much more that companies can do to craft gender-neutral job ads.

Directly state that you foster an inclusive work environment 

While recruiters and employers want applicants to lay everything out on the table, those applying for jobs seek the same candour and transparency from potential employers. Therefore, be straightforward in your job postings, so applicants don’t have to read between the lines.

Explain in your gender-neutral job ads the culture of your company and how it values diversity, gender equality and open lines of communication. The words you use in your gender-neutral job ads are important but don’t rely on context to convey what it’s like to work at your company. Instead, say it clearly. 

While you’re at it, list family-friendly job benefits in your gender-neutral job ads. This will encourage parents and carers to apply as they will appreciate these benefits.

Be mindful of pronouns

In today’s world, defaulting to using male pronouns in a job ad is unacceptable. However, including women by writing something like “he/she” is equally unacceptable, as this excludes a potentially significant part of your application pool that identifies under different pronouns.

Examples of such pronouns include but aren’t limited to they, them, theirs, ze, hir and hirs. Furthermore, some of your applicants may identify with multiple pronouns. 

For this reason, it’s best to speak to your applicants directly on your gender-neutral job ads by using the word “you.”

To show your applicants that promoting gender equality is at the forefront of your company’s priorities, you can ask them to indicate what pronouns they use (if they feel comfortable doing so). 

Additionally, you can create a section at the top of the job application where people can write their pronouns. 

A simple question like, “what pronouns do you use?” beneath the space for the applicant to write their name will make all the difference.

Keep your requirements to a minimum 

Now, you might be wondering how the number of requirements included in the job ad is related to gender inclusion. That is where research comes into the picture! 

When you look at studies regarding the relationship between the number of requirements and compare it to who is more likely to apply, women tend to shy away from applying if they do not meet every requirement on the list. On the other hand, men are much more likely to apply to job ads, even if they don’t meet every requirement. 

According to the Harvard Business Review, men apply for a job if they meet at least 60% of the requirements listed in the job ad. In contrast, women are more likely to apply for a job only if they meet 100% of the requirements. 

By keeping your list of requirements minimal, you increase the likelihood of women applying to your gender-neutral job ads.

Encourage applicants to share accomplishments in depth

At Montana State University, a professor of psychology and her former MSU student uncovered the way women tend to describe their accomplishments with extreme modesty. Unfortunately, the same is not true for their male counterparts. 

Together, Professor Jessi L. Smith and graduate Meghan Huntoon released a study pointing to the efficacy of intervention techniques when asking women to speak on their accomplishments. Cultural norms in the US create a dynamic where women are taught to minimise their success, even when it’s impressive.

Meanwhile, men are praised for doing the bare minimum. When writing your gender-neutral job ads, make it a point to encourage applicants to dive deep into their accomplishments. Express that you’re all ears and want to hear the details about even the smallest of accomplishments. 

Create an atmosphere where everyone is comfortable talking about their success. Over time, you will see a boost in the number of women and female applicants in your hiring pool. 

Recognize Masculine-Coded Words

Language changes over time, and job applicants expect companies to keep up with these changes. Therefore, words that you never paid attention to as being masculine-coded could end up driving away outstanding candidates for the position.

Examples of words that can steer candidates away because of their masculine-coded insinuations include:

  • Competitive
  • Dominant
  • Superior
  • Assertive

Job applicants may often feel subconsciously turned away by reading a job ad. However, it’s usually because they can sense that the business wants to hire a man for the position due to the company’s word choice. 

LinkedIn put together an excellent article on some words in job descriptions that turn people away who don’t identify as male. Checking your job ad against that article is a great start for ensuring your job ad is gender-neutral, along with doing a quick Google search to research other masculine-oriented words.

To show job seekers that your company champions gender equality and diversity, consider using words in your job ads such as collaborative, inclusive and supportive. 

By creating gender-neutral job ads, your candidates will benefit by feeling comfortable with applying, and your company will benefit by having a larger hiring pool.

If you’re looking for a tool to optimise your job ads for diversity and inclusion, check out our integration partner Get-Optimal.

For more tips on writing amazing job ads, check out our blog: 6 things that can make or break your job ad.

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