Diversity – it is more than just the latest push by government to make the workplace more inclusive. It is actually one of the best ways to increase a company’s profitability and success within their industry. A McKinsey report in 2015 found that those companies in the top 25 per cent of their industry in terms of diversity were also the highest earning in their sector.
Similar studies from Credit Suisse, PwC, and additional McKinsey reports have shown that diversity drives higher net business incomes, higher business returns, and numerous other advantages. In short, diversity in the workplace is good for both workers and for employers.
Of course, understanding that diversity drives business success and building a diverse workforce are two very different things. In order to benefit, you first need to get the right workers into your business. That can be quite challenging.
The first step is to ensure that your workplace is actually welcoming to diverse workers. Once that has been handled, you need to turn your attention to your primary recruitment tool, namely your job adverts. The language you use, and even the way your job adverts are structured, will have a major impact on the candidates that you attract. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to create better job adverts to build diversity within your company.
1. Change Where You Advertise
One of the first things to consider is to break out of the norm in terms of where you usually place your job adverts. Look for publications and online job sites that cater to a diverse range of job candidates. Think about placing adverts within not just trade-related publications, but within publications that cater to different religions or different ethnicities.
You should also look beyond the norm when it comes to those you hire. Look for applicants who might be from a different industry, or those who have related but different skillsets. The point is that if you want to shatter the lack of diversity paradigm, you need to do something different, and that can and should start with where you’re placing your job adverts in the first place.
2. Focus on Using Gender-Neutral Language
A crucial consideration when it comes to create better job adverts is to eliminate gender bias from the language you use and replacing it with gender-neutral language. A study by Harvard University in the US found that gendered wording made a job less appealing to women, and actually gave women the sense that they would not belong in those workplaces.
Some of this is rather obvious – don’t use job titles that specify or relate to a single gender. For instance, the term “waitress” will always denote a female role. The term waiter is masculine. However, “wait staff” is gender neutral. Salesman is obviously masculine, but salespeople or salesperson is gender neutral.
However, there’s more to using gender-neutral language than just cutting out the obvious. You need to realise that many commonly used terms can put off those of different genders, as well as those with different religious, ethnic, or socio-economic backgrounds. For instance, “competitive” and “leader” are generally seen as masculine terms and will turn women away.
An interesting study by ZipRecruiter found that non-gendered wording resulted in 17 responses to a job advert, rather than only 12 for adverts with gendered wording. In fact, removal of gender-biased language increased advert responses across the board by 42 per cent.
A partial list of masculine words to avoid using in your job advert was compiled by the Daily Mail.
3. Make the Content More Human
Too often, we fall into the trap of using the same old phrasing to list job openings and describe the ideal candidates for those positions. You might be looking for a “self-starter”. You could want someone who will “hit the ground running”. You could desire a worker with a “proven track record” of achieving results in the same or a related field.
Realise that these terms really only dehumanise your content. They’re not particularly creative, and they do not stand out from the crowd. So, your job adverts are automatically underproving, plus they only appeal to a small subset of the jobseeker sector. How do you avoid this pitfall? Get creative about how you talk about your position, your company, and even your ideal employee.
You also need to realise that the job advert is not just about vetting potential new hires. Those same listings give jobseekers the ability to vet your company, and you need to use that opportunity to its fullest. You must use your adverts to show that you are not just another company in the industry looking for the same old, same old in terms of employees.
Speak about your diversity and your drive to provide an inclusive workplace. Discuss your flexibility programs. Give an overview of what the average workday might look like. Use infographics to attract eyes and also encourage people to share your content online.
The point is that you need to get creative and show potential hires that your company is different from others in the industry.
4. Highlight the Benefits of Your Company
Not only do you need to ensure that your company is seen as welcoming and inclusive of diverse workers, but you need to find a way to stand out from the crowd in other areas, as well. Again, workers will vet your company based strictly on your job advert – if the advert makes it sound as though your company is yet another version of every other business in the industry, there is no real reason for them to apply with you. So, get around that by highlighting the unique benefits that you offer.
Do you offer flexible work arrangements that allow your employees to work remotely at times? That is a significant benefit, and one that is in both high demand from potential employees, and low supply from existing employers in the UK. Flexible working arrangements are important for those entering the industry, for those moving jobs, for new parents hoping to both spend time at home and remain productive at work, and for numerous others.
Highlight the career progression from the position being hired for through higher-salaried options. Whenever possible, use real-world examples based on the actual results achieved by other employees within your organisation.
Finally, highlight any education and training that you provide to employees that allows them to advance their career, whether within your business or in the wider industry. In-house education and training programs can have a powerful effect on employees’ work-life balance and tip the scales in your favour when it comes to potential employees scanning job adverts.
5. Eliminate the Long List of Bulleted Responsibilities
Yes, you want to ensure that job applicants are well aware of what their responsibilities will be in a particular position. That’s understandable. However, foisting a long bullet point list of job responsibilities on applicants is dull, boring, and will turn off many potential hires who would be valuable assets for your company.
Another reason to cut your list is that it makes you look unreasonable. That is particularly true if you have combined your list of required capabilities with your list of “nice to have” attributes. In almost every instance, lists like this do not balance with the benefits offered, and seem very one-sided.
Finally, many women and disabled job applicants avoid applying for positions with long lists of requirements simply because they don’t believe they are completely qualified. Sadly, most of these people are actually overqualified for the positions in question, but the requirement list makes it seem otherwise.
6. Show Your Record
Just as employers want to hire job candidates with a “proven track record”, women and minority applicants are more and more often seeking out employers with a proven record of hiring diversity. Make no mistake – your company is being judged by its past actions here. Take pains to show your diversity hiring record. If it is not up to snuff, take action to rectify the situation immediately.
A study by WetFeet (a career advice provider) found that 16 per cent of women and minority applicants judged a company based strictly on their diversity commitment. A full one-third of survey respondents pointed out that a lack of diversity in the workplace would immediately cull a company from their list of potential employers.
These are just a few examples of how you can change the job advert paradigm. It is also worth exploring other recruiting methods, as well. For instance, blind hiring is becoming more popular – a system in which names are completely blacked out, and hiring is made based strictly on qualifications. Another example of an emerging recruiting method is to seek out job candidates directly in order to build diversity in your workforce.
Ultimately, workforce diversity is a good thing for both employees and employers. It builds stronger, more profitable companies, and drives worker satisfaction. Creating a more diverse workforce begins by changing the way you create job adverts, but also requires doing your due diligence to ensure that you have a welcoming, inclusive workplace.