How to embed diversity and inclusion into your recruitment strategy

With the Black Matters movement hammering home the importance of diversity and inclusion (D&I) and recent studies finding that a more diverse workplace, led by a diverse board, increases business profitability, it is essential that D&I is fully embedded into your recruitment strategy. We know why it is important but just how can recruitment agencies ensure that they are recruiting diversely and following best practice?

Ensure clients are on board with your diversity policy

Without having open and honest dialogue with your clients about your diversity and inclusion policies, it will be impossible to effectively root them into your recruitment strategies. In a recent Talent Matters webinar, Ashby Jenkins, founder of Ashby Jenkins Recruitment, shared that she had placed the agency’s ‘pledge for diversity’ front and centre of their website to make their stance clear. They heavily marketed their commitment to diversity so that there could be no question about the importance of it to their recruitment strategy and their ethos as a company. Clients now know that engaging Ashley Jenkins Recruitment to recruit for them means a more inclusive process and the team have in fact won business off the back of that. 

Widely emphasise your commitment to D&I

It’s not just clients that need to be aware of your D&I policy, candidates need to know too. Publishing a statement on your website as above will also reach candidates but go one step further by publicising it on social media, writing blog articles and hosting webinars. Consider including it in your job descriptions too. Data published in the WaveTrackR Annual Report revealed that ‘diversity’ and ‘diversity’ inclusion’ featured in the top keywords searched for by candidates.   

Challenge clients when necessary

Don’t be afraid to (politely) challenge clients when it comes to things like job descriptions. If they are insisting on a comprehensive list of requirements, including multiple qualifications, skills and areas of experience, work with them to decide what are the must-haves and what are the nice-to-haves. If there are certain skills or experience that would be desirable, simply word it differently – ‘would be great if you had’ or ‘a combination of any of these’ avoids alienating candidates.

Look at your job ads

How your job advert is worded can have an enormous effect on who it reaches and appeals to. Obviously, you can never mention race, ethnicity or gender but it goes beyond that. Look at the language being used, ensure it doesn’t exclude different groups of people. Is it full of business jargon? Is there a high proportion of gender-coded words?  

Diversify where you post jobs

To reach a larger section of society, think carefully about where you are posting your jobs. Consider diversifying your job boards and posting on a variety of social media channels (not just LinkedIn). Your aim is to widen your search range to find candidates who might not search on the traditional platforms. 

Tackle unconscious bias

Most of us – whether consciously or unconsciously – make assumptions based on a variety of criteria, such as gender, name, age, education dates, names of educational institutions, and location of residence. To tackle this, request CVs without any of that information or at least pass anonymised CVs onto clients. This way unconscious discrimination can be eliminated at the shortlist stage. This is where honest communication with your client is again important. If they are unfamiliar with anonymised CVs they may worry that it will affect their ability to judge suitability. Simply explain that all of the key information – experience, skills, qualifications – will remain, which is all that is needed to assess which candidates should proceed to interview.

Ensure the interview process is also inclusive

Adopting a policy of sending anonymised CVs is an important first step but unconscious bias needs to be eliminated at the interview stage too and this is an area in which you can help your clients. Asking the same questions to each candidate is one way to implement this and having a diverse interview panel will help both avoid bias and demonstrate that the company is inclusive. 

There are three stages to implementing diversity into your recruitment strategy – communicating your policy with clients, attracting a diverse range of candidates, and then ensuring that the hiring process itself is inclusive. The benefits of a more diverse workplace are huge – both for society and for business success – so the time to act is now.  

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