We have all seen those equality statements on job adverts and application forms, right? They are often wordy with legal jargon, and hardly anyone actually reads them. The thing is, those statements are important. Employers want to say they are inclusive. It’s just that they have become tick-box compliance exercises, with little thought given to the actual words and what they mean.
When you write those statements, what are you trying to convey about your organisation? Who are you talking to in those statements? And what do you want to achieve by including them? These statements and policies are only effective if they tell the truth and are unique to your organisation.
Here’s three ideas to bring your equality statements to life:
Ditch the legal jargon
In research by Textio, they found that roles with an equal opportunities statement filled 6% faster. The problem is, too many companies use bland statements from compliance templates. They are usually loaded with jargon, legal terms, and bland phrases, which mean nothing to most people. This is why no one reads them. These types of statements rarely reflect cultures of inclusion and belonging.
How often have you seen things like this at the bottom of job adverts?
“We are an equal opportunity employer. We are committed to diversity and inclusion. We prohibit discrimination and harassment of any kind based on race, colour, sex, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, genetic information, pregnancy, or any other protected characteristic”
Bring your equal opportunities policies and statements to life by speaking to people in the first person. Think about how you work in your organisation to make different types of people feel welcome, and communicate it.
Talk to people as humans, using the conversational tone in which you speak to people. And use positive, affirming language. So instead of saying:
“We are an equal opportunities employer. Our policy is to recruit a diverse workforce and follow the guidelines of the Equality Act”
How about something like this?
“Our mission is to welcome everyone and create inclusive teams. We celebrate difference and encourage everyone to join us, and be themselves at work”.
Tell your story
Talk directly about how you as an employer help people to feel included. What do you do that is unique to your organisation? What is your story, and how can you tell that story to people? If you have a diverse customer base, think about how you can reflect that in what you say.
People engage with a story more than they engage with bland, legal statements. So think about why people should want to come and work for you, and think about how you can reflect that in your statement.
Use a conversational tone, talk directly to people and engage them. This is far more effective than the bland legal and compliance statements.
And for inspiration, here are some examples we found:
Unique statements will help bring your organisation to life as an equal opportunities employer. There’s so much more you can do beyond the statement too. Instead of vague comments about operating equal opportunities policies, how about talking more directly about practical things you do as an employer. Do you offer flexible working hours? Or do you offer flexible working locations, a choice of desks, or a choice of benefits to suit people? What about extended parental leave, or any other benefits that show you are an inclusive employer? These direct examples are way more powerful than bland statements.
Is your recruitment process inclusive? How do you encourage candidates from different backgrounds and with different abilities? There are words you can add to your job adverts and policy documents to hit these targets. Some good examples are:
Recruitment process – if you would like to discuss any accessibility requirements for the recruitment process or the role, please contact…… and we will be happy to discuss
Or perhaps your way of working is unique? Here’s a great example from Zapier:
How We Work – Freedom and flexibility. Spread across 17 time zones in 28 countries, we sign into Slack and open up our work tools on the schedule that fits our lives best. We communicate asynchronously, work autonomously, and take ownership of our work.
And another example from Slack about benefits offered to employees:
Parental Perks: A lot of us have families, of all shapes and sizes and types. We welcome each new addition with generous parental and new-child bonding leave, along with access to child-care assistance services for children up to the age of five.
What these examples do is talk directly to people in their unique tone of voice. They are giving examples about how they include different types of people. They are being genuine and adding personality to their statements. These types of statements are so much more engaging to people than legal jargon and compliance statements.
If this has got you thinking about how you can change your statements and the words you use, look at our training courses about Inclusive Communications. And if you want to have a chat with us about how we can help, email firstname.lastname@example.org