Why Gender Neutral Attracts Talent

In light of recent discussions addressing the homogeneity of Silicon Valley, some companies have established diversity initiatives to hire candidates from underrepresented backgrounds. Diversity and inclusion initiatives can be key to a robust company culture and the overall success of an organization. What if you could make diversity and inclusion a priority at the beginning of the pipeline, before candidates become hires?

Job descriptions and recruiter emails are meant to attract candidates with the right skills and abilities to engage with your company. These are often the first touch points a candidate has with your company and can leave a lasting impression. The way these job descriptions and emails are crafted can reflect that your organization values inclusions and diversity.

Both are critical to design with as much inclusivity as possible, as it will allow you to attract the most diverse candidate pool. Recent studies have shown that certain words or phrases in job postings may be deterring non-male identifying people from applying. Inclusive word choice in the job descriptions and recruiter emails mean candidates will feel comfortable engaging with your company.

Below is a list of words commonly associated with either perceived femininity and perceived masculinity. However, this is not to say these are the only possible words that delineate gender expressions. These are words that should be used with caution, or at least sparingly.

Words commonly associated with femininity:

  • care

  • collaborate

  • comfortable

  • commit

  • depend

  • diplomacy

  • differing perspectives

  • foster

  • honest

  • imagine

  • interpersonal

  • meaningful

  • nurture

  • relationships

  • strive

  • support

  • team

  • thoughtful

  • trust

  • understand

Words commonly associated with masculinity:

  • aggressive

  • ambitious

  • challenge

  • champion

  • competition

  • determined

  • driven

  • exceptional

  • fearless

  • force

  • independent

  • lead

  • manage

  • outstanding

  • oversee

  • perfection

  • proven

  • superior

  • tackle

  • thrive

 

Below are examples of a similar sentence that might be viewed as gendered:

Feminine:

As the Senior HR Business Partner, you will be committed to creating our HR processes, nurturing our culture, and supporting the growth of our team domestically and globally.

Masculine:

As the Senior HR Business Partner, you will tackle building HR processes from the ground up, lead the direction of company culture, and drive growth domestically and globally.

 

Fortunately, eliminating gender bias in writing is as easy as using a tool such as Textio to analyze your job descriptions and recruiter emails before they go live. Textio uses machine learning and algorithms to analyze gender bias in your writing, and offers alternative words and phrases as replacements. While you can use an equal mix of feminine and masculine words it’s best to stick with neutral terms that are appealing to everyone.

Below are neutral terms that have been found to be attractive to candidates:

  • Equal Opportunity / Equal Employment Opportunity

  • believe

  • build

  • craft

  • create / creative

  • dynamic

  • flexible

  • fun

  • groundbreaking

  • grow

  • improve

  • innovate

  • invent

  • passionate

  • positive

  • rarely

  • unique

  • visionary

 

Additionally, ensure your job descriptions and recruiter emails avoid identifiers such as “she”, “he” and “she/he”, as this disregards that people can identify on the gender spectrum. Instead, use “you”. Erring on the side of inclusiveness will not only expand your applicant pool, but will lay the groundwork for that expansion to continue as the market continues to grow and shift.

For instance, it’s becoming increasingly popular for high school aged-students to replace gendered pronouns with “ze” or “zim” in order to free conversation from gender identification. Before we know it, these same people will be entering the job market. An investment today in gender inclusiveness will pay dividends well into the future of any company.

 

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