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Battling bias in workplace messaging

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Language can be a big factor in who you attract to your company, and job postings can skew toward male stereotypes, reports Emily Peck for The Huffington Post. There are several words and phrases that can hint at an unconscious bias in an organization, such as: ambitious, dominate, analytical, hierarchical, foosball, rigid, Silicon Valley, assertive, strong, takes risks and ninja.

Job listings are the first opportunity an organization has to demonstrate its culture to a prospective employee, and that makes the message sent by these ads even more significant. Employers communicate their culture through language like “we work hard and play hard,” but candidates can take that to mean they’ll have to go out to bars and participate in a younger, millennial culture. Battling this unconscious bias is a new frontier for companies that want to hire a more diverse range of employees, and many organizations, such as Microsoft and Google, now offer bias training.

The phrase “best of the best” can send a signal to women and minorities that companies are looking for white males instead of for them, says Laura Mather, CEO of Unitive, a startup that makes bias-check software for employers. Mather says it’s fine to use these terms, but it’s important to balance out such expressions with more inclusive words such as: adaptable, collaborate, curious, flexible schedule, multitasking, health, imaginative, intuitive, resilient, self-aware, thoughtful and trustworthy.

— Adapted from “Here Are the Words That May Keep Women From Applying for Jobs,” Emily Peck, The Huffington Post.

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