Is your company interested in recruiting more diverse candidates and cultivating a workplace that includes many backgrounds and viewpoints? Do you want to mitigate bias (conscious or subconscious) in your hiring process toward candidates regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, background, physical abilities, or any other factors? And do you want candidates and employees to feel comfortable and included in the workplace and hiring process?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have come to the right place. This article will go over the use of pronouns in your hiring process, and why you should care about them. Read on to see the role pronouns play in the hunt for diverse talent.
SO, WHAT ARE PRONOUNS?
- When we’re talking about pronouns in this article, we mean personal pronouns that are used in reference to an individual and are often gender specific. These are the pronouns that we use when referring to someone without using their name.
- Someone may use more than one set of pronouns. This means an individual might use “he” as well as “they” and use those pronouns interchangeably. Or, someone could prefer one pronoun in a professional setting versus another pronoun in a more personal setting. Checking personal preference ensures you refer to a candidate in the way they feel most comfortable.
It has become more and more common for people to volunteer their personal pronouns in social and professional settings.
WHERE DO PRONOUNS COME INTO PLAY IN RECRUITMENT?
- Job descriptions, position titles, and company profiles
- Interviews and conversations with candidates
- Email signatures
Check your job descriptions, requirements, and even position titles or company mission statements for traditionally gendered language.
WHY IS PRONOUN USE IMPORTANT?
Inclusive language will help you to successfully recruit more candidates who are part of a diverse community. It also signals to all candidates (even ones that don’t identify as a part of one of these communities) that you have an inclusive hiring process, and that diversity is not just a “goal” or checkbox in a mission statement, but a practice that you incorporate into every aspect of recruitment.
Use of pronouns tells potential candidates that you are informed on these important issues and more likely to have an inclusive interviewing process and work environment.
Inclusive language creates a more comfortable environment for your candidates to enter the recruitment process, leading to more applications and greater diversity. Those who may have been wary of applying will be more likely to do so if they see this inclusion in your sign-off language and job descriptions.
Remove gendered pronouns from your job descriptions helps to prevent bias from entering the interview process before you even speak to a candidate or look at a resume.
HOW CAN YOU INCORPORATE PRONOUNS SUCCESSFULLY?
If you don’t know many people within a diverse community personally, it may seem daunting to think about incorporating this into your daily hiring practice. You want to be respectful and inclusive but worry about using the wrong terminology. Here are some tips that can help get you comfortable with using pronouns in a way that may be new to you:
JUST ASK: “What are your correct pronouns?” It’s always better to ask than to assume. By making use of pronouns a norm in your hiring process and workplace, you create an inclusive and respectful environment.
NEUTRALIZE YOUR JOB DESCRIPTION: Remove gendered language from your job ads and use the pronoun “they” when describing a role’s requirements. If the role can be done by someone regardless of their gender identity, then the job description should naturally reflect that.
Gender-coded language is different from pronoun use. In one case, fewer less than 2% of applicants were women for a job that used “coded” language like “ninja” “rockstar” or “hacker”, which are perceived as traditionally male. Try to balance those terms with other keywords that will attract a wider pool.
Research your specific word choice to make sure you are not alienating potential talent.
Using gender-neutral and gender-diverse pronouns is an uncomplicated way to be more inclusive in your hiring process. It encourages candidates who may have felt the need to hide their identity, to instead be their authentic selves. This, in turn leads to better cultural fit in the workplace, higher morale, and less attrition. Employees will be more comfortable knowing that they can disclose their pronouns and trust coworkers, bosses, and hiring managers to respect their identity, without worrying about being singled out or discriminated against for being different.