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Why Pronouns and Inclusive Language Are Important in Hiring

Do you want to remove gender bias in your hiring process? Are you looking to optimize your job descriptions for inclusive language and make your potential employees feel a sense of belonging?

Improper use of pronouns is a common issue in recruitment processes today. Researchers found an average of 478,175 gender-biased words in job descriptions. Companies that promote inclusive hiring are 15% likely to earn more profits than those that are biased.

Using the correct pronouns when speaking to or about another person is a straightforward way to make your hiring process safer and more inclusive. So is using gender-neutral language in job descriptions. 

What is a Pronoun?

You may already know that a pronoun represents or replaces a noun, but it also represents an identity. Before now, the popular pronouns for gender identification have been He/Him/His and She/Her/Hers. Yet, assuming a person’s pronouns is problematic for many reasons. Some pronouns that people identify with fall outside of this binary, like:

  • She/They and He/ They
  • They/Them/Theirs, Ze/Zir/Zirs, Ze/Hir/Hirs

To learn more about pronouns and how we can avoid misgendering those around us, here’s a helpful free guide

Which Parts of the Hiring Process do You Need to Look Out for Gender Bias?

Pronouns and gender-neutral words play a significant role in eliminating gender bias in recruitment. 

These words occur in/during:

  • Job descriptions
  • Company profiles
  • Position titles
  • Interviews with candidates
  • Email or newsletters

Why are Pronouns in Hiring Essential?

Conscious and unconscious bias could mar your company’s recruitment efforts. Here are reasons to introduce pronouns in the recruitment process:

Inclusive Recruiting

Pronoun use and inclusive language prevent bias and discrimination against nonbinary and gender-diverse individuals. It also helps job applicants to know that you have an inclusive recruitment process. This means your company respects an individual’s gender identity.

Safer Workplace

Pronouns inform potential employees that you are aware of these issues. And you’re likely to offer a more inclusive interview and work environment. Using pronouns shows respect to potential employees. 

Greater Diversity and Talents

Companies that employ the best talent are likely to meet their goals. Inclusive hiring opens the recruitment process to all, resulting in greater diversity. The higher the number of applicants, the greater the talent pool. Inclusive language in job descriptions helps you attract underrepresented talent. 

How Can You Optimize Your Job Descriptions for Inclusive Hiring?

Here are a few tips that can help your quest for inclusive hiring:

Use Correct Pronouns

A great first step is using gender-neutral pronouns like They, They are, Them, or The Candidate instead of gender-coded pronouns like He/She. Using inclusive pronouns in job descriptions is an easy way to prevent gender-diverse candidates from dropping out of the application process. 

Use Gender-Neutral Language

According to the famous hiring platform ZipRecruiter, neutral words in job descriptions resulted in 42% more applications than listings with gender biases.

The gender-coded term is different from pronoun use. In one case, less than 2% of women applied for a job role that used coded languages like “hacker,” “ninja,” or “rockstar. That’s because society associates these words with men.

Avoid gender-specific language when describing a role. Instead, use a balanced term to attract everyone. If anyone can handle the task irrespective of gender, reflect that in the role’s descriptions.

Because we all have blind spots, you might need some help with this. Tools like TalVista can help you create inclusive job descriptions and spot gender bias issues.

Avoid Gender-Sensitive Superlatives

Superlatives like ‘most capable,’ ‘most powerful,’ and ‘fastest’ can ward off candidates that may not identify with these terms. 

Don’t Assume Pronouns

Before you assume, ask.

Many consciously or unconsciously categorize someone as He or She by looking at their name or clothing. But identifying a person’s gender goes beyond the name or physical appearance. Potential employees (or anyone for that matter) feel hurt and disrespected when being misgendered.

Use pronouns when starting a conversation with someone you don’t know. Addressing candidates with their preferred identity could enhance their belonging and help them feel seen. 

Bottom Line

Many organizations promote gender equality, but we’ve yet to build a gender-equal society. To succeed, recruiters must take steps to create and implement policies that encourage inclusive hiring and gender diversity. Using pronouns can go a long way to help solve this problem.

Hiring managers risk limiting their talent pool if they fail to build a gender-friendly workplace culture. When candidates are encouraged and feel safe enough to be open about their identity, the candidates and the business benefit. Using pronouns in hiring can be a hopeful signal to potential employees that they are less likely to experience discrimination from coworkers and bosses in the workplace.

Need a job description and content optimizer? Get started with TalVista. Interested in learning more about pronouns and belonging? Check out Three Ears Media