Using Pronouns: How to Create Inclusive and Equitable Recruitment Practices

Time to Read: 4.3 minutes

Updated: May 8, 2023

Many businesses have made great improvements when it comes to making their organizations more inclusive. However, the focus has tended to be on race and gender. To progress further toward true workplace equity, it is essential for organizations that want to build more diverse, welcoming workplace cultures to create equitable recruitment practices that are inclusive of everyone, including the LGBTQ+ community.

In creating an environment that is welcoming and respectful, businesses and organizations can attract a diverse range of talent, which can ultimately lead to a more productive and successful workplace. One crucial aspect of creating an inclusive and equitable recruitment process is the use of appropriate language, which can have a significant impact on how candidates feel when applying for a job.

Best Practices and Strategies for Inclusive and Equitable Recruitment

Below are some practical tips and best practices for creating an inclusive and equitable recruitment process that is welcoming to all candidates, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation:

1. Understand the LGBTQ+ Community

7.1% of the US population identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community and understanding this community is essential when developing recruitment processes that value diversity and promote inclusivity. The LGBTQ+ community is made up of individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, and other non-heterosexual or non-cisgender identities.

To create an inclusive recruitment process, it’s crucial to have a basic understanding of the terminology and language used within the community. Resources such as GLAAD and The Trevor Project can provide valuable information and education on the LGBTQ+ community, helping businesses to create more inclusive recruitment processes that promote equality and respect for all individuals.

2. Use Gender-Inclusive Language

The use of gendered language can be exclusionary, as it reinforces binary gender categories and can make candidates feel unwelcome or unrecognized. Gendered language can include words or phrases that ascribe gender-based attributes, such as “aggressive” or “emotional,” which may be associated with a particular gender. Gendered language can feature an inclination towards one sex, such as using “salesman” instead of “salesperson.”

To create a more inclusive recruitment process, employers can use gender-inclusive language, such as using gender-neutral terms like “person” or “individual” instead of gendered terms and avoiding words or phrases that ascribe gender-based attributes.

3. Ask for Pronouns

Pronouns are also a type of gendered language. Using pronouns like “he” or “she” can be problematic for non-binary or gender-nonconforming individuals who don’t identify with either of these binary categories. To avoid exclusionary language, use gender-inclusive pronouns such as “they” or “them” as a singular pronoun or ask candidates for their preferred pronouns. Gendered titles like “Mr.” or “Mrs.” can also be avoided by using gender-neutral titles like “Mx.” or simply using the person’s name.

When asking for pronouns during the recruitment process, include a field for pronouns in the application form or ask respectfully during the interview process. Avoid making assumptions based on appearance or name. It’s important to respect the pronouns provided by candidates and use them consistently throughout the recruitment process.

4. Avoid Exclusionary Language

There are other types of exclusionary language, beyond gendered language, that it is useful to avoid in the recruitment process. Exclusionary language can be particularly harmful to candidates from different races, those with disabilities, and other marginalized groups.

Using terms like “able-bodied” or “wheelchair-bound” can be offensive and create unnecessary barriers for candidates with disabilities. Similarly, using phrases like “native speaker” or “fluent English” can exclude candidates whose first language is not English or who may speak English with an accent.

To avoid exclusionary language, use neutral language when referring to a group of people, avoid making assumptions based on appearance or name, and research language that may be offensive or exclusionary to certain groups.

5. Provide Training and Education

Providing training and education is a crucial step in creating an inclusive recruitment process. By educating your HR, talent acquisition teams, or hiring managers on topics such as diversity, inclusion, and unconscious bias, organizations can create a more equitable and inclusive recruitment process.

One way to provide training is to create a diversity and inclusion training program that covers topics such as cultural competence, microaggressions, and inclusive language. Organizations can also provide resources for ongoing education, such as webinars, articles, and workshops. It’s important to make these resources available to everyone involved in the recruitment process, including external recruiters, internal talent acquisition teams, HR, and hiring managers.

Small changes, like reviewing your use of language, can have a big impact on creating an inclusive and equitable recruitment process and positioning Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the center of your workplace culture. Doing so creates an environment that values diversity and promotes equality. This can help to attract a diverse range of candidates, giving you access to a wider pool of talent and perspectives, improving morale and talent retention, and ultimately leading to a more productive business.

Take action to create more inclusive and equitable recruitment processes in your organization! Create a strategy to attract and crucially, retain, diverse talent with the skills and expertise you need to ensure business growth and success with Pierpoint. Talk to an expert today.

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Jen Mulholland

Jen is a successful recruitment and marketing professional. Driven by a genuine passion for writing, she provides insightful, accurate and engaging content for the Human Resources community across a wide range of topics and industries.

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