By Ora Rammala, ED&I Consultant
Inclusive recruitment means providing equity, diversity, and inclusion (ED&I) throughout the recruitment lifecycle. Recruitment has been at the heart of the ED&I conversation since its inception. However, so many organisations seem reluctant to implement inclusion throughout their recruitment lifecycle. Creating inclusive recruitment practices can prevent your recruiters from functioning on autopilot and make them put more effort into building a diverse workforce. This implementation doesn’t refer to only hiring a few diverse hires, instead, it touches on five stages within the processes of the recruitment lifecycle; thus, shifting your company’s culture to centralise inclusion more habitually.
Always Educate your team.
The first, and arguably the most important, step in creating a more inclusive recruitment programme is to educate your whole organisation on what ED&I is and how important it is for the progression of the company. Consequently, your recruitment team would not feel isolated in understanding the relevance of ED&I within the company. Your recruitment team must invest more time in understanding their biases and privileges when working with diverse candidates.
A lot of the bias we talk about as recruiters might come down to things like gender, race, or religion. While it’s important to be aware of these kinds of biases, there are other forms too that may prevent a hiring team from connecting with the right candidates.
For example, a recruiter may experience confirmation bias if they’re quick to make a judgment before getting to know a candidate. To confirm their original assumptions were correct, they’ll look for any responses or behaviours that reinforce their initial opinion – even if it means overlooking some great skills or characteristics that would make the candidate a great match for the job.
To reduce this particular bias, as well as any others that might make their way into your recruitment process, you need to provide inclusive education and training to your teams as an ongoing activity. Creating a recurring education programme that helps your teams identify and eliminate unconscious bias consistently will significantly contribute to the diversity of an organisation as well as its inclusion.
Preparing a role and deciding its responsibilities and requirements can come with a lot of inherent bias about what we believe is ‘good’ and what is ‘needed’. When a hiring manager decides to make a hire, there is a common ‘want’ to have the same kind of person that either left or remains within the organisation. There is a confirmation bias rooted in this inception, as hiring managers should be looking for difference as opposed to hegemony. Here, ED&I training becomes important. ED&I should be a value to each employee, and this should be central to how hiring managers decide roles.
Sourcing candidates from diverse backgrounds aren’t as simple as outsourcing to a specialised recruiter. That kind of strategy often leads to a diverse candidate joining an organisation and being isolated or tokenised. If you want inclusion to be implemented throughout the company and recruitment lifecycle, you need to be consistently thinking about how you are attracting diverse talent and how you are empowering diverse talent groups. For example, instead of claiming that you will accept applications from all demographics, specifically encourage talent from underrepresented demographics to apply. “We strongly encourage people from underrepresented groups to apply” is one of the common ways of phrasing this inclusive strategy.
When screening candidates, our biases around social interactions can come to play, especially confirmation bias. Try to be objective. Remember, you are not looking for someone who is like you, you are looking for a different perspective. Interviews are still the most popular selection method amongst employers. Interviewers need to be careful that they allow candidates to properly demonstrate their skills and suitability for the role and avoid making an inappropriate snap judgement on the individual. All applicants also need to be given the same opportunity to demonstrate their suitability for the role. Unconscious bias (where people stereotype about certain groups of people, often without being conscious of doing it) needs to be mitigated as much as possible during the interview process. Strategies for doing this include having pre-set interview questions designed to assess fit against the requirements of the role. Finally, to ensure inclusive shortlisting, employers should try to have more than one person short-listing candidates to limit any possible bias or discrimination. Short-listing criteria should be agreed upon in advance of the shortlisting process and be based on the requirements of the role.
- Selecting + Hiring
In order to create a diverse workplace, it needs to be run by diverse people. When you have several different individuals following along in the hiring process, you can get feedback, perspectives, and opinions from people with unique needs and expectations. The selection and hiring of candidates should be collaborative –– including those beyond just your recruitment and hiring team. Reaching out to other departments, team members, and company leaders can remove bias because you would be taking different perspectives into account. When hiring feels like a group decision, you are more likely to get an individual who does not fit a particular mould. A diverse work team can also encourage more diversity. When candidates go through the interview process and engage with many kinds of people, it can be encouraging for them to come work at your organisation. Look for ways to bring diverse team members into your hiring process. By adding a new perspective, diverse interview panels encourage us to think more broadly and inclusively about whom we are bringing into the company. This allows the interview team to see past their unconscious biases and focus on being consciously inclusive.
Those first few days of a new role can feel just like school; you feel scared, excited, sometimes even isolated. This does not have to be the experience of any new hire. Your onboarding process needs to connect your new employee with as much acceptance and celebration as possible. This candidate is not a number, they are part of a community. An inclusive hiring process is just the first step. If you only focus on building an inclusive hiring process but ignore your company culture, employees who do not fit a homogenous mould will be unhappy when they get into their new positions. An inclusive workplace culture gives each employee a unique voice and encourages them to be themselves. Their individual needs are not only met but they are encouraged to take time for personal responsibilities that they believe are important.
The term diversity is often spoken about by both employers and recruiters; yet the answer to many, if not most, of the questions employers ask recruiters about their diversity in talent is largely due to how a company prioritises inclusion. Inclusion is rooted in human value and consistently trying to prioritise equity and diversity together, not in having a small percentage of diversity and believing you have done enough. An inclusive recruitment lifecycle helps deconstruct all the ways in which a company’s recruitment process could be biased or discriminatory. This effort could feel like uncomfortable work, but it is needed to retain and respect all talent.
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