Writing JDs to promote more inclusive hiring

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2021, we’re shining a spotlight on the women in HR making a real impact on equality through a number of different initiatives. 

8th Mar 2021

In collaboration with the team at Learnerbly, Marie writes some of the best job descriptions that we’ve ever seen. Not just because of the inclusive wording and thought behind the impact of a JD, but also because of the balance and two-sidedness of the format. A JD is often the first time that a candidate comes into contact with a company, so it’s crucial to explain what they get, as well as what they provide the company. 

Here’s Marie’s explanation of why JDs are the place to start addressing equality in the workplace, and how to do it:

Why is writing more inclusive JDs important?

Learnerbly already had a paragraph in the "requirements" section before I joined 3 years ago. It said "These are ideal but not required as we know women are less likely to apply for the role unless they are 100% qualified. We promote a diverse, inclusive and empowering culture at Learnerbly.", with a link to a reliable source

That's the very reason I applied. I had 2 BA hons, 1 MA hons, not a lot of experience but it was definitely relevant, and yet I did not feel legitimate to even apply because I didn't hit 100% of the requirements. Then I read the disclaimer and I thought "you know what, if they care enough to put that down and I appreciate that, maybe I should trust their judgement rather than my anxiety" and I applied. And I got the job. 

Last year, we updated the wording to be more inclusive and changed "women" to "some people" to acknowledge intersectionalities, as women are not the only category of people who are less like to apply unless they're 100% qualified. Whoever that piece about confidence resonates with probably needs and deserves to read it so that they can take the leap to apply for the job they want (rather than the job they assume they deserve based on their biases).

JDs are the obvious place to start, but it goes beyond JDs. For example, I know some colleagues applied because of our Employee Guide page about periods at work. 

Why aren't other companies doing it?

Perhaps they don't know how much of a difference it makes because they don't have the information (if that's you, your joker's gone - go and update your JDs) or perhaps they believe in a functioning meritocratic system. If that were the case, perhaps those numbers would be different, and there wouldn't be that much noise around how inclusive approaches benefit businesses and productivity. Plus, to foster safe environments, we must understand and address inequality.  

What impact do you think it makes on people's lives and equality?

IIt might not be as straightforward as this, but for the sake of keeping it short, inclusive job descriptions could lead to a more diverse applicant pool across intersectionalities. Paired with a thorough hiring decision-making process = more chances for you to hire more diverse profiles, and for them to be hired. With a nice "get some of that confidence into you, you talented person" step in between. Now the beautiful part: this also applies to people you don't hire if you share useful feedback with them!

With a more diverse workforce, employees would learn more from more diverse perspectives, broaden theirs, and have more constructive disagreements. That would normalise challenging ideas and whatever is left standing is more likely to be more informed and therefore more innovative and more solid (to go deeper on this, you can explore Matthew Syed's "Rebel ideas")   

Here are some of Marie's recommended further reading:

https://www.cultureamp.com/blog/benefits-of-diversity-in-the-workplace/

https://yourprimerecruitment.com/diversity-in-recruitment-statistics/#:~:text=Workforce%20Diversity%20in%20the%20UK

https://medium.com/backedvc/de-i-in-hiring-is-a-process-not-a-policy-31fd1546e7bd

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-diversity-makes-us-smarter/

https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/relations/diversity/factsheet#gref

https://www.creativeboom.com/inspiration/illustrating-diversity/

https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/experts/research/diversity-drives-better-decisions

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2zv-zQJ1zU&ab_channel=Waterstones

If you want to see some of Marie’s brilliant job descriptions, then check out Learnerbly’s company page