Study Reveals How Fortune 500 Job Descriptions Are Tailored More Towards Men Than Women

Diversity and inclusion is a topic within the business world that is constantly being addressed and worked upon. As many studies show, there is little equality within boardrooms, equal pay and opportunities for those within minority communities is still a problem.

However, are we seeing a lack of diversity and inclusion within businesses due to their job advert descriptions?

Looking at a variety of job advertisements across different industries, job discovery platform DirectlyApply has revealed which companies within the Fortune 500 have the most diverse job descriptions through their tone of voice and language. DirectlyApply’s free job description tool provides a full analysis which looks at masculine vs feminine language, education bias, use of unnecessary ‘business jargon’ as well as any errors with spelling and grammar.

Cigna Ranks As The Best Company For Diversity and Inclusion Within Job Adverts

RankCompanySectorOverall Score*
1CignaHealthcare12.8
2American Airlines GroupAirlines11.8
3Verizon CommunicationsTelecommunications10.8
4StoneXDiversified Financials 10.4
5ComcastTelecommunications10.4
6TJXSpeciality Retailers 10
7General MotorsMotor Vehicles & Parts9.8
8Walgreens Boots AllianceFood & Drugs Stores9.8
9CitigroupBanks: Commercial & Savings9.8
10TIAAInsurance: Life, Health9.6
11OracleComputer Software8.8
12Goldman Sachs GroupBanks: Commercial & Savings8.8
13New York Life InsuranceInsurance: Life, Health8.6
14MicrosoftComputer Software8.6
15United Airlines HoldingsAirlines8
*overall score refers to the average score produced by the tool for technology, legal, accounting and finance, admin and graduate roles when comparing each company in the study with each other.


Out of all the top 100 Fortune 500 companies, Cigna ranked as having the most diverse and inclusive language within its job adverts. The company also ranked 1st for its admin and operations job roles, showing a high level of balance in its language to attract both female and male candidates that are looking to apply for jobs.

The American Airlines Group falls in second place of the top 100 Fortune 500 companies, with an overall score of 11.8. Ranking third best for its technology and admin & operations job adverts, the airline shows a good level of fairness between its masculine and femanine language, limited use of jargon, correct grammar and a reduced education bias.

Best Buy Ranks As The Worst Company For Gender Inclusive Job Descriptions

RankCompanySectorOverall Score*
1Best BuySpeciality Retailers -6.2
2NikeApparel -5
3ExelonUtilities-3.4
4AllstateInsurance-2.6
5CVS HealthHealth Care-2
6Exxon MobilPetroleum Refining-1.8
7ConocoPhillipsMining, Crude Oil Production-1.4
8General ElectricIndustrial Machinery-1
9State Farm InsuranceInsurance-1
10CaterpillarConstruction & Farm Machinery-0.8
11AIGInsurance-0.8
12HumanaHealthcare-0.6
13Massachusetts Mutual Life InsuranceInsurance-0.4
14BoeingAerospace & Defence-0.2
15MetLifeInsurance-0.2
*overall score refers to the average score produced by the tool for technology, legal, accounting and finance, admin and graduate roles when comparing each company in the study with each other.


With an overall score of -6.2, Best Buy ranks as the worst company for its job descriptions with regards to diversity and inclusion. For legal and admin roles, the company showed the poorest results as its job applications were masculine dominated throughout their language and tone, potentially putting off female job seekers.

Despite its continuous approach to improving equality around the world, the global sports brand Nike ranked as the second worst for its diversity and inclusion within its job descriptions. For accounting, admin and technology roles Nike was amongst the very worst when making its job descriptions inclusive for female applicants. This, partnered with a low score for its graduate roles, meant that overall the brand performed poorly within the study.

CEO Equality and The Future For Graduates

Another important talking point that was brought about from the study is the lack of gender diversity within CEOs for the top 100 Fortune 500 companies.

Eight of the 100 CEOs are female, showing a clear need towards a further push of equal opportunity.

NameCompanySectorForbes ranking
Mary BarraGeneral MotorsMotor Vehicles & Parts18
Safra CatzOracleComputer Software82
Phebe NovakovicGeneral DynamicsAerospace & Defense83
Carol ToméUnited Parcel ServiceMail, Package & Freight Delivery43
Kathy WardenNorthrop GrummanAerospace & Defense96
Gail BoudreauxAnthemHealth Care: Insurance & Managed Care29
Susan GriffithProgressiveInsurance: Property & Casualty (Stock)86
Corie BarryBest BuySpecialty Retailers75

Whilst touching upon the topic of equal opportunity for female CEOs, the study shows how graduate job roles are some of the worst performing in relation to attracting female applicants. If we are to see any change in the number of female CEOs in the future, we must address the language and tone used within job descriptions to allow for a maximum opportunity for females to apply for entry level roles across all industries.

As of the current situation, at least 14 companies within the Fortune 500 are not attracting females for their graduate roles meaning we’re unlikely to see an increase in the number of female CEOs in the future as women are not receiving an equal opportunity to get their foot on the first rung of the corporate ladder.

Exelon Ranks as the Worst Company for Job Descriptions Attracting Graduates

RankCompanySectorGraduate score*Overall score**
1ExelonUtilities-11-3.4
2CaterpillarConstruction & Farm Machinery-10-0.8
3AmerisourceBergenWholesalers: Health Care-102
4General ElectricIndustrial Machinery-9-1
5Charter CommunicationsTelecommunications-61.2
6ProgressiveInsurance: Property & Casualty (Stock)-60.8
7Johnson & JohnsonPharmaceuticals-63.8
8Fannie MaeDiversified Financials-61.2
9TargetGeneral Merchandisers-51.4
10BoeingAerospace & Defense-5-0.2
11PepsiCoFood Consumer Products-51.8
12Archer Daniels MidlandFood Production-40.4
13Exxon MobilPetroleum Refining-4-1.8
14American ExpressDiversified Financials-42.8
15Bank of AmericaBanks: Commercial & Savings-45.4
* graduate score refers to the average score produced by the tool for graduate roles when comparing each company in the study with each other.
** overall score refers to the average score produced by the tool for technology, legal, accounting and finance, admin and graduate roles when comparing each company in the study with each other.

A solution here is to analyse job descriptions to see whether or not they are written in a manner that attracts a female audience. If we are using masucline tones or stereotypical language, it may be putting females off from applying, despite knowing that they have the skill set required for the role.

To find out more about DirectlyApply’s free diversity and inclusion job description checker, click here.

For the full research: click here


Sources and methodology:

https://fortune.com/fortune500/2020/search/

Danielle Gaucher, Justin Friesen, and Aaron C. Kay: Evidence That Gendered Wording in Job Advertisements Exists and Sustains Gender Inequality (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, July 2011, Vol 101(1), p109-28)

https://www.ere.net/you-dont-know-it-but-women-see-gender-bias-in-your-job-postings/

https://github.com/dylankbuckley/job-description-inclusion-analysis-fortune-companies

DirectlyApply’s tool analyses how job descriptions can lean towards male applicants through its language. The tool follows the following metrics to produce an overall score; for masculine coded words, the lower the percentage the better. For femine coded words, the higher the percentage the better. For education bias whereby there are less barriers to entry, the lower the number between 1 and 5 the better. For heavy use of jargon, the lower the percentage the better and for spelling and grammar, the lower the number between 1 and 5, the better.