Skip to main content

Four simple tips to create an inclusive job description

Inclusion and Diversity|Talent|Total Rewards

By Amanda Scott , Toby Ovenden , Franziska Barlage and Andy Reid | April 9, 2021

Is your talent pool dangerously shallow? Here are four ways to expand it.

We all want to attract the best talent out there, but we’re aware that even the subtlest of linguistic nuances can be exclusionary and deter great candidates from applying.

As a result, for our own team at Willis Towers Watson, we’ve been making every effort to ensure that our job descriptions are as inclusive as possible. So we thought we’d share. Hope it’s useful to you too!

Here are four important tips to consider when you’re writing job descriptions:

  1. 01

    Trim the job description down to the core

    You might initially come up with a long list of requirements and qualifications, but it is essential that you are ruthless about trimming down the job description. Otherwise, you risk putting off qualified candidates.

    Studies show that men apply to jobs for which they meet only 60% of the qualifications, whereas women are more hesitant to apply unless they meet 100% of the requirements.

    Here are some no-no’s:

    Do not include the number of years of experience required for a position as you are potentially indirectly discriminating on the basis of age. Focus the job description on skills rather than experience.

    Cut out any nice-to-haves, like technical or professional skills and experiences that are not required for the role immediately or that can be easily acquired through training once someone has joined the company.

  2. 02

    Choose your language carefully

    Words are so important. Choosing the right words and thinking about your tone will stop candidates feeling unqualified for a position that they are absolutely qualified for. For example, using corporate jargon or acronyms may leave potential candidates, at worse, feeling unqualified for – and at best, struggling to understand – a job they are fully qualified for.

    You should consider, in particular, whether or not the words you are using imply a preference for an ethnic group or a gender. For example, specifying that a candidate must have “strong English language skills” could deter a highly-qualified person who speaks excellent English as their second language.

    It’s also incredibly easy to fall into the trap of using gendered language. Use gender neutral or “they” language, rather than gendered pronouns like “he” and “she”. Avoid words with masculine associations, like “confident”, “ambitious” or “decisive”, and, similarly, steer clear of feminine-coded words, like “sensitive,” “empathetic” or “trust”.

    Words can also infer age discrimination; if you are keen to hire a “digital native,” this clearly discriminates against older candidates. Words like “passion” or “devote” can also imply that the company is looking for someone with a lot of free time, deterring people with family commitments or chronic illnesses from applying.

  3. 03

    Carry out a simple inclusivity check

    Did you know that you can proofread your job description for inclusivity in Microsoft Word? Here’s how:

    1. Click on the “File” tab and go down to “Options”
    2. Open “Options” and click on “Proofing” on the left of the dialogue box
    3. Click the “Settings” button underneath the “When correcting spelling and grammar in Word” section.
    4. Scroll down until you find the “Inclusiveness” section and click on all of the options available. Then click “OK”.
  4. 04

    Commit in writing

    It’s also worth including a statement, at the end of your job description, that outlines how your company is committed to inclusion and diversity. You can even list the benefits an employee can expect, for example health insurance or flexible working arrangements, as these help to support inclusion and diversity in the workplace.

Here’s how we word Willis Towers Watson’s commitment to being an equal opportunity employer, and what we offer.

We hope this gives you some useful ideas on this all-important aspect of inclusion and diversity.

We’ve all seen the many research studies out there which show that diverse teams are more successful. In an environment where people think differently, everyone is challenged and there are more opportunities to grow.

Carefully considering your job descriptions, particularly the wording you use, will help you attract the best talent and build more diverse teams, ultimately creating productivity wins for your organisation.


GB Head of Talent and Rewards

Toby Ovenden

Franziska Barlage

Andy Reid

Related content tags, list of links Article Inclusion and Diversity Talent Total Rewards United Kingdom

Related Solutions

Contact Us