Rethinking Your Job Descriptions – A Way to Promote Inclusivity in the Workplace

Roles and responsibilities with wooden pen

According to Glassdoor, 76 percent of employees and job seekers said a diverse workforce was important when evaluating companies and job offers. In today’s world, many will not apply for a job, accept the offer, or continue working for a company if they feel that diversity, equity and inclusion practices aren’t being prioritized. Despite companies making big promises to implement DEI practices, it is often found that neurodivergent people – who make up nearly 20% of today’s population – still don’t feel fully included in these promises. Inclusion in the workplace is extremely important for all employees. 

Neurodivergent individuals are people who experience and interact with the world around them in ways that are considered atypical to the majority of the population. Some examples of neurodivergence include autism, dyslexia, and ADHD, among many others. There is no one “right” way of thinking, learning, and behaving. Neurodiversity is simply a natural variation of the human brain. 

As organizations we must embrace neurodiversity, and recognize the strengths that come from neurodivergent thinking. For example, out-of-the-box ideas, creative solutions and more. That means creating an environment that supports employees to work and achieve in their own way. It also means creating a culture that welcomes and celebrates differences. To create a truly inclusive workplace from start to finish first begins with an inclusive hiring process – and that begins with the job description. Sign up to our free DEI webinar series to learn more.

Consider Job Titles

The employee journey begins before they even start the job itself. Throughout the entire hiring process, candidates are gaining insight into your company and its practices, including company culture and DEI values. According to LinkedIn, if the tone of the job post doesn’t match the company’s culture, applicants are 2-4x less likely to apply. This is why it’s important to make sure the job title and description are an accurate representation of the position itself. The job posting will be an applicant’s first impression of the company. While employers may feel that they don’t have any responsibilities until the applicant accepts and starts the job, this is not the case.

Many job descriptions include words like, “Superstar,” “Guru,” or “Expert” in the job title. These words can be off-putting to someone who is neurodivergent. Perhaps they don’t have the confidence to think these words describe them. In fact, research has shown that there is a lack of awareness among neurodivergent applicants about their own strengths. This can lead candidates to assume they are not a good fit, and as a result, not apply for the position. For a company, this can limit their potential talent pool.

Setting Realistic Expectations For “Must-Have Skills”

In many job descriptions, there is a “must-have” section that includes skills such as excellent communication, strong attention to detail, and the ability to read and write. For neurodivergent individuals, this can be uninviting. For example, individuals with ADHD may not have the concentration to be detail-oriented. Additionally, they may not view themselves as proficient in English reading and writing.

Instead of focusing on soft skills and character traits, consider listing more specific skills that are directly related to the role you’re seeking to fill. For a marketing role, the skills related to the role may be, “knowledge in mathematics, including statistics, business intelligence and analytics, as well as data science tools and research using large data sets.” This helps candidates identify whether they’re a good fit for the position based on academic experience or previous roles instead of broad skills neurodivergent applicants may not possess.

Make Text Fully Accessible

The layout of most job descriptions can be difficult to read even for someone who is not neurodivergent, so consider the difficulty that someone with dyslexia may have. 

The text tends to be paragraphs of requirements, a description of the job itself, and how to apply. It is also often very small and has little to no spacing making it hard to read. This, again, can be unattractive to a person whose brain functions differently. 

Plus, long descriptions that are difficult to read through are not beneficial for any company. Shorter job posts have been proven to receive 8.4 percent more applications per view than average.

Improve the layout and look of your text by using basic fonts such as Arial or Calibri, and make the text larger and easy to read. Also, try to condense the text as much as possible. Think about if the description really needs to include all the content or are there some things that can be left out without making a huge impact on the overall description. For a neurodivergent applicant, this may stand out if it’s not something other companies are doing. It shows your company is committed to inclusion in the workplace and helps to build a positive reputation and lasting impression.

Companies must be fully committed to implementing DEI practices to create a more positive, supportive work environment for all. If your company does not currently have any practices in place, reassessing your job descriptions is a great place to start, but it does not end there. You must be able to provide these individuals with the tools needed to be successful in their role and afford them the same opportunities presented to non-neurodivergent employees.

To learn more, sign up to access our free DE&I webinar series in partnership with Rolls Royce, Hymans Robertson, Auticon and AMS. In three episodes and available now, you’ll explore how to create a recruiting & onboarding process that’s accessible and inclusive to all people. Flexible to different needs. And, free from bias. Sign up now for instant access.

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About the Author:

Cathy Donnelly is the Chief People Officer (CPO) at Texthelp, a global leader in literacy and assistive technology. As a senior HR executive with over 25 years’ experience, Cathy’s role is to ensure Texthelp’s business strategy is successfully reflected across all HR activity.

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