The first thing that a candidate will notice about you is your language. Your language immediately signals to the prospective employee whether you are committed to building a welcoming workplace. Word choices can implicitly demonstrate the principles of your company. This is why we believe that using inclusive language is essential in recruiting, retaining, and helping a diverse workforce feel supported at work.
Your language reflects the identity of your company. We believe in demonstrating inclusion through “showing” rather than “telling.” Incorporating editorial changes for inclusivity does more for your job advert than telling the candidate that you are an inclusive employer.
The language services that we offer as part of our premium packages ensure that nobody is put off by exclusionary subtext in your job descriptions. Such subtext is the result of normative power imbalances and unconscious bias. It can be difficult to see yourself, but our editorial service helps to bring it to the surface. We utilise discourse analysis to go deeper than any overtly exclusionary language, to investigate the more hidden implications of your job descriptions.
We read closely for the implicit suggestions of exclusion that might be hindering your recruitment efforts. For example, a job description may include the sentence:
We would re-write this sentence because it excludes people who may work well but not feel they are “calm” or “level-headed” due to mental health reasons or neurodivergence. You should aim to make it clear that many different types of people can achieve in a role otherwise you are effectively communicating that you are looking for someone who fits a pre-determined, exclusionary standard.
Similarly, studies have shown that the word “competitive” disproportionately deters more women than men from applying to roles. It may seem easy enough to avoid the terms “competitive” and “level-headed”, but these are just examples. We have found that most job descriptions that seem inoffensive on the surface can usually be edited further to become truly inclusive. This requires specialist editorial attention which we are happy to offer as part of our premium package.
Paying attention to language means remaining attentive to how your communication reproduces and reinforces patterns of structural power. But this isn’t just about societal implications. This is about the individual well-being of your colleagues. The sense of discomfort that they may feel but may be unable to place or fight is an unfair social burden that should be actively eliminated from the workplace.
Research by McKinsey points out that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
Across all diversity characteristics, if employees are not actively welcomed through a company’s communications, they may feel the need to mask or downplay their differences at work. Not only does this mean the wellbeing of your colleagues will be negatively impacted but it also means that these employees cannot work to their full potential.
Hierarchical structures are reproduced, sometimes involuntarily, through our verbal and written communication. It is therefore crucial when recruiting a diverse workforce to invest in inclusive communication. Exclusionary language not only puts people off your company, but it also prevents your employees from feeling welcome and supported in their workplace. Dedicating yourself to using inclusive language in your communication means building trust and improving productivity.
We aim to write neutrally which isn’t as simple as it may seem. Writing inclusively is not just about avoiding exclusionary terms. It is about enhancing empathy and imagining how someone different to you may feel when reading your text. It also requires the active deconstruction of everyday phrases that might be covertly exclusionary.
Such analysis needs to look outwards from the writing to the societal structures that are implicated in all communication.
Assessing whether language includes or excludes people requires close attention and a flexible understanding of changes in terminology. We utilise the work of a diversity and inclusion specialist who is trained in discourse analysis to proofread and offer remedial edits for our clients.
When you take out a premium package with us, you can send us any job descriptions that you would particularly like to be more inclusive, and our specialist will proofread and analyse them before presenting them back with comments and edits. She helps with readability as well as inclusivity, ensuring that your job adverts are both strategic and welcoming. She also includes explanatory notes so that you can understand why the changes that she suggests are necessary.
We are committed to diversity and inclusion as more than a tick-box exercise. It is about ensuring that every individual feels seen as an individual and not marked by harmful societal characterisations.