Inclusive recruitment is nothing new. The Equality Act 2010 states that discrimination in the recruitment and selection of employees is illegal. However, introducing an inclusive policy is one thing, but making it work in practice is another. Let's look at inclusivity in recruitment as a concept, the changes needed to make it work for your organisation, and the untold benefits that stem from its successful adoption.
An inclusive recruitment process recognises the benefits of a diverse workforce. The notion views different backgrounds, genders, cultures and thought processes as differences to be understood, valued and championed.
Adopting inclusivity in recruitment policy means looking at candidates' strengths and weaknesses across the board and adapting where necessary, instead of focusing on education, work experience, and an individual's ability to play the interview game.
Alongside the fact that an inclusive recruiting policy is the most ethically-sound and fairest approach to growing your team, there are direct business impacts. A report by McKinsey found that ethnically and culturally diverse teams are 36% more likely to outperform their competitors.
An inclusive recruiting strategy also opens your business up to the finest talent available. Traditional recruitment has a more linear focus, in which everyone is judged on their past experience, the appearance of their CV or ability to small-talk their way through an interview. Inclusivity in recruitment focuses on skill-sets and removes any sense of bias from proceedings, unconscious or otherwise. See our article on neurodiversity recruitment: adapting your hiring program to see potential changes you can make.
Inclusivity in recruitment doesn't happen overnight. Business leaders looking to adopt the philosophy need, to begin with, knowledge development, then review their current practices and processes to enable the strategic shift to work.
In order to be successful, inclusive hiring strategies need to have the support of your entire organisation. At all levels, your team needs to understand the policy and fully adhere to it. Your stance should be made clear on your website, in your brand book and in job descriptions.
It should also be clear from the day-to-day language used by your employees that such a philosophy isn't a novelty. Any incidents of non-PC language or evidence of discrimination from one staff member to another should not be tolerated.
Even if we are 100% in favour of an inclusive recruitment policy, it's possible that the processes we use have elements of bias and prejudice. Without thinking, our brains might immediately light up when we see a candidate with a master's degree or perhaps someone with experience at an admirable global brand such as Google. It's also natural for us to be drawn to a candidate with similar values/style, or somebody who comes from the same city as ourselves. Being aware of your own biases and actively challenging them, is critical to building an inclusive culture.
Review your processes with a fine tooth comb in order to minimise any unconscious bias in decision making. Seek diverse opinions on candidates and hire individuals who add new perspectives to your team, rather than duplicating what already exists. By truly valuing diversity and taking time to identify areas of improvement, you will greatly increase your chances of building a diverse and high-performing workforce.
Even ultra-modern recruitment policies can fall down on inclusivity because of language choices. It's easy to use gender biased terms when advertising for a role, without even noticing this may discriminate against women. Or by including culturally-specific references that would completely alienate those with non-UK backgrounds.
When it comes to advertisements and descriptions, special attention needs to be given to the questions asked in order to encourage people from all backgrounds to apply. In addition to using non-gender and non-culturally specific language, the focus should be on skill-sets and avoiding trick questions. Neurodivergent candidates may have the best skill-sets available for the job but be put off from applying by a complex application form or job advertisement. Tools such as Texio can help hiring teams remove demographic language bias from their role descriptions and employer branding.
Furthermore, this approach should continue when it comes to the interviewing and onboarding processes. Successful inclusive recruitment practices mean interview processes should be adapted to fit the needs of individual candidates to allow them to perform to the best of their ability. As well as using language that's sensitive to diverse backgrounds, consider the needs a person with a different thought process or abilities might have.
For example, autistic individuals may have a high sensitivity to light or noise, meaning a multi-panel interview in a brightly-lit room will have a negative effect on their performance. For more information, see our post on how to interview neurodiverse candidates.
An inclusive recruiting policy benefits a business in three key areas – hiring, retention and creativity. Not only will it give you more chance of finding and keeping the most talented employees, but it can help build a foundation that enables your business to reach new levels of success.
An inclusive recruiting policy immediately makes your business more appealing to clients, customers and potential employees. The millennial generation will soon make up the majority of the global workforce – they've grown up with far greater education and understanding of differences in culture and neurodiversity than generations before. Companies must find ways for all employees to thrive if they wish to not only hire, but retain a diverse workforce.
Inclusive recruitment can also work as a point of difference between your business and a competitor. Let's imagine two businesses are hiring for the same job, offering the same salary and employee benefits. Your diversity statement is clearly listed on your website and other company material, whereas the competition has no such information available. For potential candidates, having an inclusive employer can be the deciding factor when it comes to choosing one role over another.
A survey shows that 84% of employees believe that a company's lack of inclusion results in higher staff turnover. As we've seen from the hiring section above, modern-day employees value diversity within a workplace, and many aren't prepared to stick around if their voices are not being heard.
Whilst efficient hiring and retention policies save companies time and money in the long run, an immediate benefit of inclusive recruiting is heightened creativity. A group of employees with a similar background and experience are more likely to harbour similar views and ideas. When it comes to innovation, this limits the pool of thought and perspective.
Compare this to a diverse group of employees with different cultural backgrounds, genders, lifestyle preferences and thought processes. You've immediately got a larger foundation of ideas at your disposal and the potential for these ideas to reach a larger base of clients and customers. Research from Deloitte shows that diversity of thought enhances innovation by 20%, which could mean all the difference between success and failure for a business competing in an aggressive market.
The same applies when it comes to problem-solving – bring different perspectives to the table, and you'll find a richer pool of solutions.
Businesses need to think outside of the box when it comes to securing advantages over their competitors. Putting talent and skill-sets above any other candidate points of difference can help grow a stronger workforce, improve overall performance and keep your organisation relevant in an ultra-competitive world.
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