How to Avoid Discrimination in Your Job Adverts
SummaryAs well as being against the law in many countries across the globe, discrimination – whether intentional or not – can seriously damage your reputation as an employer, making it even more challenging to attract and retain top talent. Following on from our previous articles on how to improve your Life Science job adverts and how to improve your job advert SEO, this article outlines how to avoid different types of discrimination in your job adverts, although it does not act as legal advice.
- Author Company: PharmiWeb.Jobs
- Author Name: Lucy Walters
- Author Email: Lucy.Walters@pharmiweb.com
- Author Website: https://www.pharmiweb.jobs/
As a Life Science employer/recruiter, you must take steps to avoid discrimination across your entire recruitment journey, including in how you present your job adverts.
As well as being against the law in many countries across the globe, discrimination – whether intentional or not – can seriously damage your reputation as an employer, making it even more challenging to attract and retain top talent.
Following on from our previous articles on how to improve your Life Science job adverts and how to improve your job advert SEO, this article outlines how to avoid different types of discrimination in your job adverts, although it does not act as legal advice.
To avoid discriminating against sex in your job adverts, steer clear of any gender-specific language and instead keep things neutral (e.g., instead of using the term ‘Salesman’ use the term ‘Salesperson’). Similarly, stick to gender neutral pronouns throughout instead of using ‘she’ or ‘he’ to avoid showing a preference for one sex over another.
Some positions – including those in healthcare environments – may require a candidate of a particular sex due to the nature of the job. However, this should always be listed as a genuine occupational requirement rather than a general preference.
Whilst it might seem obvious, you should not include a required age range for a role, although you can include a minimum age where there is a legal limit. For example, in the UK, a young person must be 18 in order to work full-time.
The language you use to describe your ideal candidate must also be kept neutral and should not show a preference for someone of a particular age. For example, the following words/phrases could imply a preference for a younger candidate:
- Recent graduate (although you can make a call for a graduate as part of a graduate scheme, do not imply that that graduate must be young)
- Digital native
Whilst these words/phrases could be used to imply a preference for an older candidate:
- Veteran (of a particular field)
Asking for a specific number of years’ experience can also exclude younger people with less time in the industry from applying for a role, even if they are qualified for that role. Instead of doing this, you may want to consider assessing candidates’ skills and knowledge through tailored assessments and situational interviews.
Although each of these words isn’t always synonymous with a certain age, they can imply a preference, so it’s better to keep the language in your advert neutral and factual, and not leave it open to interpretation.
When it comes to avoiding disability discrimination in your job adverts, do not include any details about physical ability unless where there is a genuine occupational requirement. You should also avoid using any terms that could imply a preference for a candidate without a disability, including terms such as:
To make your job advert itself more accessible to those with a disability, ensure it is clear, easy to read, and well formatted, perhaps including an audio listening option where possible.
To get started with creating an accessible job advert, take a look at this style guide published by the British Dyslexia Association which includes advice on the best fonts, structure, colours, layouts, writing styles and more.
As an organisation, you may be taking positive action to encourage people from an underrepresented group to apply for a role, and this can be expressed in your job adverts as part of a hiring scheme. However, you must still pay attention to the language you use in your job adverts to avoid racial discrimination.
For example, if fluency in the English language is essential for a particular role, you must be clear that the ideal candidate must be able to converse in English rather than being born in England. You should use the term ‘English-speaking’ rather than ‘English.’ Similarly, be aware of the difference between being fluent in English and having English as a first language, as asking for the latter can be seen as discrimination.
To make your job adverts more inclusive and accessible to those who haven’t lived in the country you’re hiring in all their lives, think about how you list essentials such as qualifications. For example, the equivalent of GCSEs in England will be called something different in different countries, so when listing these essential qualifications, be sure to include an ‘or equivalent qualification’ as a note to each one.
Further Tips on Making Your Job Adverts More Inclusive and Accessible
Avoiding discrimination in your job adverts – and in all your other hiring materials – is essential. Here are some more things you can do to make your adverts even more inclusive and accessible…
Use Multiple Recruitment Sourcing Channels
To make your adverts as easily accessible as possible, don’t rely on one recruitment sourcing channel (e.g., social media), as you may indirectly be excluding groups of people from seeing your adverts. Using a niche job board such as PharmiWeb.Jobs can be a great way of making the most of different channels, as we work with numerous aggregators and offer various innovative job posting and advertising options to ensure your roles are reaching your target candidates in all the right places.
Don’t Just Rely on Word-of-Mouth and Referrals
Although employee referrals can be a cost-effective hiring solution and can often result in better quality hires, relying on word-of-mouth alone will also indirectly exclude certain groups of individuals from applying for your roles. People often surround themselves with others of a similar age/background, so don’t restrict your talent pools in this way.
Use Clear and Factual Language
To ensure your job advert is easy to understand, avoid using local idioms and other phrases that could be misinterpreted. For example, if you’re hiring a role that requires occasional travel, do not write ‘you will be asked to travel once in a blue moon’ and instead specify the ratio of office-based and field-based work.
Demonstrate reasonable flexibility in your job adverts. Instead of giving one date that candidates must be available for an interview, give the week the interviews will be held in. You can still offer your preferred date when it comes to the interview stage whilst being flexible for those who need it. This could include caregivers, full-time parents, or disabled people who require assistance. Demonstrating flexibility in your job adverts will encourage more groups of candidates to apply, ultimately helping you to find the best talent without excluding anyone unnecessarily.
Ready to Post a Job?
Once you’ve ensured your job advert is discrimination-free, take a look at our numerous job posting options here, and feel free to get in touch with any questions by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling us on +44 (0)845 5651771 – we’d love to hear from you!