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5 Key Steps to Enhancing Diversity in Recruitment

Updated: May 12, 2023

Embedding diversity into recruitment is a key step to increasing diversity and developing inclusion

Staff teams and potentially clients and customers, particularly those from diverse backgrounds are becoming increasingly frustrated that those applying for, and being successful in obtaining positions are from the same cultural and social backgrounds as the current workforce.

This has a negative impact on the ability for an organisation to embed diversity and inclusion when in fact, it is merely replicating a homogeneous workplace environment.

HR and recruiting managers are being tasked to increase the diversity of candidates applying for available roles, and overcome to challenges of recruiting more diversely.

Diversity and inclusion within the recruitment process improves employee satisfaction and delivers improvements across key outputs and performance indicators across the business. Increased workplace diversity improves staff morale, creativity and innovation.

Research has shown that improving diversity has a marked effect on a business brand, showing that customers want to buy from diverse and inclusive businesses. It is important to embed diversity into recruitment processes.

Many companies have made efforts to improve their recruitment processes, to boost workplace diversity and increase employee satisfaction. However, many have found it a challenging process, not least in finding ways to build a diverse candidate pool.

Getting Better with Diversity in Recruitment

This article looks at this in more detail and makes suggestions with 5 key steps to build diversity into your recruitment lifecycle and process activities.

It looks at goal setting, candidate sources, unconscious bias, brand analysis and interview processes and provides useful tips to help organisations become more effective at recruiting more diversely and inclusively.

1. Goal Setting - Diversity in Recruitment

Recruiting to increase diversity starts with a holistic analysis of your organisations current demographics. It includes a baseline measure that assesses the policies, practices and benefits that are available to employees. It measures process functionality.

Understanding the baseline measure of your process, will help you to set specific and measurable goals, which can be modified over tome as you increase diversity.

This allows a recruitment manager to measure efforts and achievements, over time, and analyse the journey towards inclusive recruitment.

Goal setting is the start of developing a successful diversity recruitment strategy

Recruiting in the same way as has been done previously will not increase diversity. Simply advertising on diversity job boards will not increase diversity.

The process of recruiting diversely cannot be achieved by doing things as ‘they have always been done before.’ A genuine commitment to build a diverse workforce and embed inclusion is the start of the process.

There has to be a clear understanding of the goals the organisation wants to achieve. Effective recruitment planning must be about more than meeting and exceeding self-imposed quotas. This serves only to increase visible diversity across the organisation.

Diversity recruitment is about developing and retaining diversity across the business. Processes for embedding inclusion, go hand in hand with effective diversity recruitment and must be aligned to your plan. Merely having a good recruitment plan does not mean that you will have a good retention of diverse staff.

Always ensure that your diversity recruitment goals are SMART and include processes to review and measure progress.

Set SMART diversity recruitment goals

Employers need to start by asking themselves what they want to achieve with their plan.

It needs to be more than simply meeting self-imposed quotas; to maintain a diverse workforce, inclusion efforts must be part of the plan as well.

A good hiring plan doesn't equal a good retention plan.

You can read more about the importance of embedding inclusion into the process in a previous post 'Diversity is Not A Numbers Game'

2. Re-defining Candidate Sources

Relying on your current sources may not net the results you seek. You will need to cast a wider net in order to attract diverse candidates.

Creating strategic relationships with minority ethnic businesses, schools and colleges and community organisations and/or advertising in relevant press or social media groups, can yield dividends when trying to increase diverse candidates.

Having a presence at recruitment, careers fairs etc can be helpful. However, these activities rarely develop a sustained approached to diversity recruitment if they are done as one off, or infrequent actions.

They may help to source a few candidates but should be done in isolation.

Engaging diverse candidates is the principal activity within your recruitment strategy

Diverse candidates can be sourced by engagement with communities through effective engagement with community groups and via social media. Creating sustainable relationships with communities you wish to engage is important to accessing diverse candidates.

It helps your business, and industry, to become relevant in the minds of the community.

Cultivating relationships with communities can be achieved through social media, radio and television.

It is important to note that many communities, for example people with disabilities, Black and Ethnic Minority (BAME), LGBT, older people, women's groups and Armed Forces have their own groups that provide a good starting point for engagement.

They also provide a good starting point for raising awareness about your industry.

3. Be Wary of Unconscious Bias!

It is easy to engage with a candidate that shares your cultural attributes, values, race, gender, educational background and other characteristics. However, recruiting personnel must understand that this is where unconscious bias can perpetuate systemic discrimination in the workplace.

Recruitment and HR personnel, indeed anyone involved in the hiring of staff, should receive training on unconscious bias. Unconscious bias has a negative impact on an organisation's ability to recruit fairly and attract a diverse candidate base. It also has the potential to damage brand image, reputation and trust.

By recognising how biases can negatively affect the recruitment process, those involved in the process can avoid unconscious bias in their decision making. It is important to note that overcoming unconscious bias is key to developing effective and inclusive recruitment and removing disadvantage for candidates.

Everyone involved in recruitment should have training on Unconscious Bias

The use of redacted CV’s is helpful to increasing the diversity of applicants. Blind recruitment software reduces bias by removing non essential information. This can include names, gender references, and often, dates of employment and education in order to mitigate the chances of making unconscious assumptions.

Prior to posting job advertisements, it is preferable to check the advertisement with diverse members of staff. This will ensure that the author of the listing is not unwittingly using language, that may lessen the response of any particular group or community.

If your current employee base, lacks the required diversity to enable this process, you may outsource it to another organisation. When your staff diversity improves, you can consider setting up a staff diversity network to assist with this process, if you do not have a network in place already.

4. Brand Analysis

In today’s internet environment, it is important to curate an online presence that is appealing to a wide audience. Whether diversity recruitment agenda is well established or you are at the early stages of your journey, it is important to build and maintain effective diversity and inclusion into your brand offering.

There is no point embarking on a process of diverse recruitment, if when successful, recruits do not feel included in your organisation.

Your branding must speak to your commitment to diversity. You must ensure that all your messaging speaks to your goals.

Show a genuine commitment to diversity and inclusion

Embedding your commitment to diversity into your corporate and recruitment messaging is a good way to promote your brand.

Merely stating a commitment to diversity is not enough. It is preferable to outline this commitment in detail.

Give clear examples of systems currently in place to support staff engagement, individual creativity and value, and diversity systems.

The presentation of your online persona is crucial to talent acquisition. Your commitment must resonate with candidates from a range of groups.

A key reflection of your commitment of diversity is the diversity of your leadership team. The makeup of the leadership team will be something that potential candidates look at when making a decision on whether to apply for a position.

A diverse leadership is testament to your diversity commitment.

A diverse leadership team can be is testament to your commitment to diversity. However, it does not necessarily mean that your business is inclusive!

Candidates need to feel that they are joining an organisation that is supportive of diversity and one in which they can, with hard work, reach the highest levels.

Put simply, people want to see people in leadership who look like them. This builds confidence in your business and negates the possibility of candidates viewing your diversity statement and stated commitment as ' the usual diversity rhetoric'.

5. Update Your Interview Processes

Evaluating your interview processes is a useful way to analyse the effectiveness of diversity recruiting.

From reading your initial job posting to, hopefully, getting the coveted position, candidates are engaged in YOUR recruitment process.

It is important that your process is easily navigated by candidates.

  • Do you have the necessary resources to facilitate employers with disabilities?

  • Is your application form accessible?

  • Do you offer application forms for those who do not have access to the internet?

It is easy to make assumptions about the people who will apply for the position, but remember, an inclusive process is just that…. inclusive to all.

Make the interview process all inclusive - NO ASSUMPTIONS

Incorporating diversity into the recruitment process itself, is a real boon for your recruitment process.

A diverse recruitment team made up of diverse members can understand different perspectives, value systems and behaviours of a mix of candidates.

This enables the team, as a whole, to evaluate candidates, taking a range of aspects into account, rather than evaluating through a single lens. In other words, where the majority of staff the same, or similar, racial, educational, social or class background, the evaluating ‘lens’ is enhanced.

Unconscious bias training can help recruitment teams and managers to understand how social and cultural belonging impacts the recruitment process. Suggestions that a candidate not being 'a good fit' is often a code for ‘he /she is not like us’ It is a manifestation of unconscious bias.

Ensure that everyone involved in the recruitment process receives Unconscious Bias training as standard. Training can help with the assessment of candidates by ensuring fairness as objective and measurable criteria is put into place. Without this, bias will creep in.

Following the 5 key steps above will go some way to increasing your visibility to a range of diverse candidates. Supported by the development of inclusive processes, you can build an organisation that is creative, innovative and embraces diversity!

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Kenroi Consulting is a bespoke diversity consultancy providing tailor made solutions for businesses across the UK.

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