A quick guide to inclusive recruitment

Rosie Clarke, Head of Inclusion and Diversity (North), discusses inclusive recruitment, the numerous business benefits it provides, and how to ensure you have it when recruiting.

What is inclusive recruitment?

Inclusive recruitment is the measures, processes and practices that make up all the elements involved in attracting, assessing and appointing candidates to vacant job roles within your organisation to maximise the diversity of successful appointments.

Inclusive recruitment is a vital element of any organisation’s diversity and inclusion strategy because it is the most effective way to increase diversity across all protected characteristics and beyond.

Why is it important to have inclusive recruitment practices?

Having inclusive recruitment practices will avoid discrimination under the Equality Act 2010, increase brand reputation and diversify your workforce.

 Although creating an inclusive culture with psychological safety and transparent development opportunities is key, these alone don’t lead to diversity.

The only way to increase workforce diversity such as race/ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, disability, and social background is to bring in new people. Once those people are recruited it is the inclusive culture that enables them to thrive and stay with the employer long term.

The benefits of diverse recruitment

The first benefit we must consider is complying with the law. It forms the fundamentals of inclusivity and when not followed can cause long-lasting and sometimes irreversible damage to individuals and organisations.

The Equality Act 2010 provides two possible ways to support employers with recruiting from marginalised and underrepresented groups.

Firstly, for the public sector, it has the Public Sector Equality Duty (sections 149-157) which places a legal emphasis on the need to “advance equality of opportunity”. This duty can be met through the implementation of inclusive recruitment practices.

Secondly, the Act includes provisions for Positive Action (sections 158-159) which allows employers to put additional measures in place to recruit from underrepresented groups, for example, putting on recruitment fairs in communities with high numbers of Black, Asian, and ethnic minority people.

A further benefit is that as competition for customers and contracts increases hiring people from different backgrounds brings fresh ideas, innovation, and connections into new industries. If organisations are to attract new customers and keep their existing ones, they have to offer products and services that meet the needs of an increasingly diverse and globalised world. The only way to do this authentically is to hire people who are representative of those customers.

The negative impact of not recruiting inclusively

Apart from the risk of breaking the law, there is a clear business case for having a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Organisations that don’t embed inclusive recruitment practices will keep hiring carbon copies of their current or previous employees. Although this may keep the organisation going, it will not keep it competitive or drive the best possible outcomes for service users and customers.

There is also a significant ‘talent shortage’ currently with 75% of large companies with 250+ workers reporting problems with recruiting skilled workers.

It is predicted that by 2030 that will be over 85 million jobs globally with no people to fill them. There has never been a more important time to cast the net for candidates as wide as possible. Not having an inclusive recruiting strategy could lead to an increased number of vacancies.

Tips on having an inclusive hiring process

There are many ways to adopt inclusive hiring but here are some top tips:

Inclusive writing and language in job descriptions

Gendered language and criteria which have been shown to attract males/females more: Criteria like ‘competitiveness’, ‘assertiveness’ or ‘driven’ are all words which are more appealing to men (or those who identify with masculinity).

That is not to say that women or some trans/non-binary people are not these things, but research shows they are less likely to describe themselves in this stereotypical masculine language. Make sure language in job descriptions and adverts is gender-neutral.

Having an inclusive application process

Due to societal barriers, discrimination and lack of equal opportunities, there are many talented candidates whose CVs have a lack of experience or large gaps.

Make sure that a candidate could demonstrate their capabilities in other ways such as a competency-based application form, a covering letter or even video submissions (where appropriate).

Future employees may have developed their time management, negotiation, or communication skills through volunteering, leading religious groups or being parents/carers. Not all skills are developed at work.

Consider the process for a range of different applicants

Providing some options on how an application is made such as either a cover letter or a short video allows different people to shine.

When it comes to interviewing and assessment make sure all assessments are relevant to the job and alter for each role.

When designing the process do a brief Equality Impact Assessment and think about who could thrive in this process and who couldn’t. What could you do to allow more people to thrive?

Offer reasonable adjustments throughout the interview processes

Disabled candidates are likely to need some adjustments, anything from extra time to complete a task to a sign-language interpreter.

Make sure the advert has a clear statement about disability and a process which is simple and does not put the burden on the disabled person.

A disabled person may need a different adjustment at application, then an interview and/or assessment so check back with the person at each stage to see if any changes need to be made.

Understand the legal framework

Anyone involved in making recruitment decisions or designing the process should have completed inclusive recruitment training. It is much easier than managers often think to fall foul of the law.

If managers are untrained, it is likely the liability for any discrimination that occurs will fall to the employer and can lead to high-value pay-outs at an employment tribunal.

Get expert help

When redesigning a recruitment process, particularly when using Positive Action, it is advisable to consult an Employment Lawyer or qualified recruitment expert.

The consultancy team at Inclusive Employers can also provide advice, guidance, and feedback on recruitment practices to enable inclusive recruitment.

How Inclusive Employers can help with diverse recruiting strategies

Having diversity and inclusion in recruitment is crucial and can help you find the best talent. If you’re a member, speak to your Account Manager and explore our inclusive recruitment guide.

If you need further support on inclusive recruitment we can:

  • Talk more about how to encourage diversity in recruitment
  • Conduct a recruitment audit and provide recommendations
  • Help design diversity recruiting strategies
  • Design and deliver inclusive recruitment training
  • Provide feedback on recruitment practices and policies
  • Develop, design or write recruitment policies
  • Provide advice on techniques for increasing applicants from underrepresented groups  

Get in touch today to learn more.