Beginner’s Guide to Diverse Recruitment

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Beginner’s Guide to Diverse Recruitment

If you’re at the start of your Diversity + Inclusion journey, a great place to begin is diverse recruitment. Making changes to your recruitment processes will allow you to diversify your company through new hires.

However, it’s sometimes tricky to know where exactly to start. This post will help you get started with diverse recruitment, starting with the basics.

What is diverse recruitment?

Diverse recruitment is making sure you consider people from a wide range of backgrounds and identities when hiring. It covers the whole recruitment process, from identifying roles that need to be filled to onboarding.

Why should you care about diverse recruitment?

Recruiting from a wider pool of talent is a win-win for your business and for candidates. We explore the full business case for diversity and inclusion in another blog post. However, here is a useful acronym to help you remember the business benefits of diverse recruitment:

Performance – evidence shows that companies with diverse workforces perform better 

Experience – a diverse workforce brings a stronger set of skills and knowledge 

Engagement – a workplace that supports everyone equally sees better retention and engagement levels

Relatability – your business will reflect the diversity of your customer base and community

The PEER acronym shows that if you don’t put the effort into treating people fairly, then people won’t put effort into your business. This includes both staff and clients, so if you want your business to be successful, inclusivity is key.

What does the law say about diverse recruitment?

Discriminating against people in your recruitment process doesn’t just make your business less inclusive – it could be against the law. 

The Equality Act 2010 protects workers against discrimination based on sex, sexuality, gender reassignment, race, religion, marital status, pregnancy status, disability and age. These are known as ‘protected characteristics’. 

Asking questions that force candidates to reveal their protected characteristics when irrelevant to the job is a definite no-go. Even if you’re asking in a well-meaning way, candidates may believe you are judging them on criteria beyond their control. Unconscious bias means the recruiter might even be doing that without realising!

Ultimately, the law is reactive rather than proactive – no one is forcing you to be more inclusive in your recruitment. However, you don’t want a lack of inclusivity to affect your reputation and prevent applications when you advertise jobs.

Who should you recruit to become more diverse?

Who you should recruit depends on the current makeup of your workforce in comparison to your goals. The best place to start in setting these goals is a diversity audit.

HR teams should be able to help collect information about your current workforce in a way that respects people’s data privacy. This could include anonymised surveys, polls and letting staff know you welcome feedback and suggestions. It is also important to identify any pay gaps that exist between certain groups of people doing comparable roles. 

The next step is to look at your current recruitment processes. What is the diversity of your applicants, and does it vary depending on the job? Where do you advertise? How do you negotiate salary with applicants, and are some types of people more likely to be offered a job than others?

Remember, diverse recruitment isn’t about hiring individuals regardless of their ability to do the job. It’s about making sure you bring diversity and inclusivity to the pool of applicants in the first place.

How can you make your recruitment process more inclusive?

Here are some practical tips to get your diverse recruitment process rolling:

Make your interview panels more diverse

Improving the diversity of those involved with shaping and conducting your recruitment process can bring great rewards. For example, US company CISCO found that 70% more African American women made it through the interview process when the interview panel became more diverse.

Advertise in a wider range of places

If you always target the same locations, such as specific job boards, you’ll keep attracting the same type of person. It’s easy to keep doing what you know, especially if it already brings in high-quality employees. However, remember that equal talent may available from more diverse sources.

Use inclusive language

Job ads can sometimes appear to dictate what personality and behaviours their ideal recruit has. Telling candidates that office has a fridge full of beer and you all like a drink after work may appeal to certain recruits. However, it has nothing to do with the job and could be a turn-off for others.

Language can also put off candidates of certain genders. You can use this gender decoder tool to pick up on the masculine or feminine words used in your jobs advertisements. Creating more balance can prevent receiving far more applications from men or women. To make your ads more trans-friendly, you can also use gender-neutral words and ‘they/them’ pronouns.

Make the criteria clearer

It can be difficult for some candidates to work out exactly what you’re looking for and which skills you value most. Presenting your requirements in a table format with numeric weighting for each part can make the job description more transparent. A scoring system can also take any bias out of the screening process. 

Get training on unconscious bias

Unconscious bias training can help provide a level playing field for diverse candidates. Unconscious bias is when our own experiences make us assume things about other people that may not be true. It’s something people from every walk of life do – we are only human after all! But unconscious bias training is a great way to work through those assumptions so they don’t impact recruitment.

Provide reasonable adjustments

Finally, offering reasonable adjustments to candidates with disabilities will help ensure you are giving everybody a chance. Reasonable adjustments are changes employers make to reduce a recruit’s disadvantage due to their disability. This can be anything from having their interview in a wheelchair-accessible room to rephrasing questions to be easier to understand by an autistic candidate.

If you’d like to learn more about reasonable adjustments, look out for our blog post on this topic next month!

What else can you do?

Whether you’re at the beginning of your Diversity + Inclusion efforts or you’re just a bit behind on recruitment, following this guide should get you started. Using the steps outlined above should improve the inclusivity of your recruitment process and provide your business with the many benefits of D+I.

However, if you would like to learn more about starting your journey in Diversity + Inclusion, check out our guide to implementing change in a company brand new to D+I. If you have any questions about this topic or any other, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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