Here are some of the key dos and don'ts of inclusive recruitment:
What is inclusion and diversity?
“Without inclusion, diversity is doomed to fail.” Devi Virdi, Group Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Centrica. Inclusion is the act, and diversity is the result. Inclusion and diversity (I&D) is now recognised as an essential part of business. It’s not just a tick-box exercise or a ‘nice to have’. Once your company adopts an inclusive culture, the more diverse your company will become.
Diversifying your workforce has many positive outcomes, such as better employee wellbeing, productivity, and longevity. Creating an environment where people can bring their full selves to work can significantly increase employee attraction and retention because people will recognise your company or team as a place where they can love Mondays.
There is also a strong business case for it, which is often overlooked. In the UK, for example, according to inclusion and diversity champion INvolve and the Centre for Economics and Business Research, discriminatory pay practices cost the economy £127 billion in lost output every year. That means, there is a high return on investment in inclusion training and preventing discrimination and closing pay gaps.
Seven steps to an inclusive recruitment process Rethink your fundamental requirements
There are certain roles for which neurodivergent people would be perfect, like data analytics roles, but the barriers to entry include requiring “excellent interpersonal skills” or being a “team player.”
In this case, professionals with conditions like autism are far less likely to apply for those roles because they do not believe this applies to them, despite being more likely to have the focus and skills needed than a neurotypical person. Employers must rethink what the fundamental requirements for the job are and consider whether your advert reflects this.
Develop grassroots talent
Does the perfect candidate really need a degree or five years’ experience, or could you find someone with the right mindset and potential and train them with the skills you need?
Or, if someone has the right skills and experience, but their soft skills are lacking, they may benefit from a mentor to build their confidence.
Watch your language
For employers to receive more applications and make the process accessible to everyone, you must be conscious of the language you use in your job adverts. Using inclusive language is an easy way to indicate that everyone is welcome to apply and be considered, if they believe they are the right fit for a role.
Gender neutrality is a simple way to ensure you don’t limit your talent pool and unintentionally alienate suitable candidates. One way to avoid this is to use online tools to eliminate gender-coded language from your person specifications, job descriptions and adverts which often go unnoticed.
Remove barriers to entry
The placement of your job adverts is an often-overlooked consideration. Those who place their ads in tech magazines that require paid subscriptions might be excluding groups from lower economic backgrounds, for example.
Employers must also ensure that their application forms are inclusive of all genders, sexualities, ethnicities etc. by including an “Other” or “I’d rather not say” option, to give them space to tell you who they are if they wish to. It must be optional, or you could end up forcing someone to come ‘out’ prematurely.
Create a diverse interview panel
The first impression of your team takes place at interview and a lack of diversity could impact a professional’s decision to accept your job offer. It would benefit employers to think about how diverse their hiring panel is and do their best to represent the variety of people in their company.
Conversely, you must not over-correct and cherry-pick the same few people to be the ‘face of diversity’ or to hire certain people just to fill a quota in your company – no one wants to be tokenised or seen as a ‘diversity hire’.
Ask the right questions
Some employers don’t know what they legally can and can’t say, or ask, in a job interview. Training should be provided to each hiring manager to ensure they understand the dos and don’ts of interviewing. Generally, an interview question is illegal and discriminatory if you couldn’t ask everyone the same question.
One example that comes to mind is asking a woman if she is pregnant or thinking of having a baby one day. You couldn’t possibly ask the same question to a cisgender male candidate, which makes it discriminatory to ask of women. Asking everyone the same core set of questions will give your interview a good basis for objectivity.
Negate any bias
Everyone has their biases, but these should not influence your hiring decisions. Business leaders should ensure their hiring managers receive sufficient training in unconscious bias so they can identify their own biases and make more informed hiring decisions.
Working with a recruiter such as Reed, where CVs are anonymised before being sent over to you can also help here. It means you can make a decision on potential employees without being swayed by certain information available on their CV.