How to Avoid Gender Bias in Recruitment Ads


image_29Avoiding gender bias and discrimination in recruitment ads is not just a friendly thing to do, it also helps your organization stay in compliance with the law. In everyday language, there are many biased words such as “mailman” or frequent use of the word “she” in a job description for a nurse. Using gender-neutral wording or a mix of gendered wording helps to attract an even mix of qualified candidates. These three strategies will help your organization avoid gender bias in recruitment ads and job postings.

References to the Applicant or Employee

When writing a recruitment ad that addresses the employee, it is best to use the gender-neutral pronoun “they” or an equal mixture of the pronouns “he and she.” Managers and human resources personnel who stick with gender-neutral wording can use the singular “they/their” when referring to the candidate. Using a mix of masculine and feminine wording is another good option, but this should be considered second to the use of gender-neutral wording because there is still the potential to show bias.

Consider Masculine and Feminine Adjectives

Some gender-biased words are not as obvious as “he/him” and “she/her.” In a recruitment ad, there are many biased words that may not be overt in their tone. “Community” and “sympathetic” are considered feminine attributes and descriptors in a recruitment ad, while “results-driven,” “dominant” and “leader” are considered masculine descriptors. These words also dig up longstanding biases about who is likely to be “dominant” in the job setting or who may be focused on building a “community.” When using these types of words, managers and human resources staff will need to use a mixture of masculine and feminine attributes to maintain neutrality in the recruitment ad.

Stick with Descriptions of Behaviors

When writing a recruitment ad, human resources staff and managers should focus on writing expectations related to the behaviors of workers rather than the attributes of workers. Try writing the gender-neutral, behavior-oriented “ability to collaborate effectively” rather than the gender-biased “people person” or “team leader.”