Make Your Company Policies Inclusive by Looking at these 3 HR Tools

4 min read | Kelly Primus

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Part 5 of our “Gender + Diversity Playbook: Setting and Achieving Your Goals for 2021 and Beyond” focuses on the importance of removing gender-biased language from HR tools. If you’re following along, this is #4 on the Top 5 list from our CEO’s blog post 'From One CEO to Another--It’s Time to Get Focused': 

Remove gender-biased language from HR tools

You’ve heard it before -- changing a company’s culture starts at the top with the CEO. But they can’t 

do it alone. They must also hold the CHRO responsible for eliminating gender-biased language from HR tools and policies (job descriptions, performance reviews, manuals, etc.). After all, it’s the CHRO’s responsibility to make the company’s policies and procedures inclusive. And while this may sound like stating the obvious, it’s important for CHROs to recognize there could be potential hidden biases lurking in the very policies they think are inclusive. As such, they need to be held accountable to identify and eliminate them.


  1. Job Descriptions -
    Make sure your job descriptions don’t include gender-biased words which may deter an applicant from applying. Using adjectives like Dominate, Outspoken, and Competitive, have a masculine connotation; while adjectives like Nurturing, Honest, and Supportive, have a feminine connotation. Instead, focus on using descriptive vs. superlative words. Having a gender-balanced job description shows potential candidates you are an inclusive company that considers all applicants, regardless of gender.

  2. Performance Reviews -
    Institute a competence-based performance review system vs. a compensation-based system. A competency model will focus on measurable competencies, not behaviors and personality, which are subjective and can lead to hidden gender bias. For example, if you allow people managers to use words like “assertive” in a woman’s performance review, she may be perceived as difficult to work with; if a male colleague is described the same way, he will be seen as a leader. Over time, those kinds of words used in performance reviews will benefit more men and less women. A competency model will help make your company more inclusive over time.

  3. Pay Gap -
    Pew research shows that women still earn 85% of what men earn for the same job. Take a look at your current salary structure to ensure you have a pay scale that doesn’t imply a hidden bias. If there are pay inconsistencies for same/similar jobs within your organization, put a standardized salary structure in place to eliminate any bias. In other words, if you want your culture to be inclusive, people should be paid the same amount for the same job--and your salary structure MUST reflect that. Period. 

By removing these hidden biases, you are another step closer to having an inclusive culture. If you would like to learn more about how to eliminate gender bias and make your company more inclusive, #WeCanHelp!


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Gender + Diversity Playbook:
Setting and Achieving Your Goals for 2021 and Beyond

Part 1: 2020’s Miss is Now a “New” 2030 Promise – But Will Orgs Break This Promise Too?

Part 2: From One CEO to Another—It’s Time to Get Focused

Part 3: How to Engage & Retain More Women - Top 5 Things You Can Do!

Part 4: How To Change Your Company’s Culture To Be More Inclusive

Part 5: Make Your Company Policies Inclusive by Looking at these 3 HR Tools

Part 6: These 5 Tips Will Help You Recruit More Women/Diverse Candidates

Part 7: 10 Strategies for 2021 to Help Engage & Retain Women