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New Guide to Inclusive Job Descriptions

RoleMapper Team
October 3, 2023
Inclusive Job descriptions

The process of inclusive job design sits at the heart of your ability to attract, retain, reward and progress talent across your organisation.

There have been significant shifts in the world of work that have driven creating inclusive jobs to the top of the priority list for leading organisations.

We are operating in ever-changing, volatile markets with increased legislation, particularly around pay equity and transparency. Combine this with a new generation who are expecting a more employee-centric, self-service model to help them navigate career paths up and around an organisation, and you have a clear business imperative to drive change - a key driver being inclusive job descriptions.

Creating inclusive job descriptions is more than just re-working the language and copy on a page. It is a sequence of key steps in a job design process that will enable you to create job descriptions that reflect, in an inclusive way, the work that your organisation needs done now and in the future . The outputs of this process will be debiased job descriptions that will truly make an impact at each stage of the employee lifecycle.

Inclusive job design is the process of designing a job in a way that is unbiased and reflects the actual job that needs to be done - rather than making assumptions about the job and/or job holder.

Step One: Simplify and Segment Responsibilities

Complexity is a real barrier to inclusion. If a job description is simply a long list of tasks, people find it hard to see how their experience and skills can transfer to fulfil a manager’s long wish-list of deliverables. If there are too many responsibilities, or if they are overly complex, research has shown that it will very likely put people off applying for the role.

Step Two: Design Requirements Inclusively

There are three key areas to focus on to ensure your requirements are inclusive. First, which of the requirements are truly essential? Our own research found that, on average, 60% of the requirements listed on a job description aren’t actually essential to be successful in the role. Furthermore, research shows that women will not put themselves forward for a role if they don’t meet 80-100% of the criteria.

Step Three: Design with Hybrid and Flexible Working in Mind

Make it a mandatory step in your job design process to assess which flexible and hybrid working options will work for a role, and challenge yourself to consider options that have not been tried before. Make sure the flexible working options available for the role are fully explained in the job description. If it is decided that a role is not suitable for some options, document the reasons why to ensure that they can be justified.

Step Four: Make your Writing Inclusive

Usability expert Jakob Nielsen found that the average user reads at most 20% of what’s on a page. People tend to scan information that they see online, rather than read it. It’s therefore crucial that you convey the key information about the role in a way that is easy to understand. Long drawn-out job descriptions will put a lot of people off.

Step Five: Embed Systemic Change

The final step is something most organisations find the hardest to do, and that is to systematically embed the principles of inclusive job design into the way that jobs are designed and the way in which job descriptions are written.

Create a process and guidance for anyone to use in your organisation who is involved in job design and writing job descriptions. Put governance in place to make sure that inclusive job design principles are being followed.

The building blocks of your workforce strategy.

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