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How to build an inclusive recruitment policy

Posted 20/07/20

The recent resurgence of the #BlackLivesMatter movement has once again shone a light on the inequalities that still exist throughout our society. Nowhere is this diversity imbalance more clear than in the workplace and we don’t have to look far. We can see stark examples in areas such as football management, where there are currently only six black or non-white head coaches in the top 92 clubs in the English professional leagues. 

This disparity, however, is present in every industry. Directors of colour represent only 8% of the total number of board directors, compared with 14% of the population in the UK. From the top-down, organisations in the UK need to do more to attract the best talent from BAME and other minority backgrounds and to provide clear pathways for progression. Recruitment is a vital part of that process, so how do you go about building an inclusive recruitment policy?

What is a diversity and inclusion policy? 

A diversity and inclusion policy is a set of commitments that an organisation makes to be an accessible and accepting workplace for everyone. More than just a document, they should set the foundation for the proactive work you do throughout your business.

What is diversity? 

Diversity is about recognising the different characteristics of employees and acknowledging the value that they can bring to your organisation. These might be visible factors such as gender or ethnicity or non-visible factors including class or cultural background. 

The days of a ‘colour-blind’ approach to recruitment are over. As recruiters and businesses, we have to recognise the challenges that are faced by BAME candidates in the workplace. According to a 2017 study by the CIPD, almost half of BAME employees censor what they tell colleagues about themselves and their personal life, compared to just 37% of white colleagues. If we want BAME employees to feel comfortable at work, something has to change.

What is inclusion? 

The ‘inclusion’ part of your policy is the steps you take to listen to these voices and the processes you put in place to make staff feel valued, whatever their background. This may include training and promoting existing staff or hiring. This is an ongoing process that should permeate your working practices over time – it isn’t just a case of a one-off training exercise.

There are many methods you may use to address inclusion gaps. According to the same CIPD study, a quarter of BAME respondents said mentoring would be beneficial to them in their career compared to just 14% white British. To be inclusive, you have to listen to a diverse range of sources – whether that’s staff, research or data to help inform your decisions. Be prepared to learn and accept your own knowledge gaps, it’s all a part of the process.

Inclusive recruitment

A big part of your policy is inevitably the way you recruit. As a recruitment agency, we work closely with some fantastic organisations who are truly committed to a more inclusive approach to hiring. As a business, we’re also putting in place policies to support inclusive recruitment, these include:

Using a diverse recruitment team

If you want to hire more diversely then start by involving a diverse range of voices on your recruitment team. We all have to accept that our cultural backgrounds may affect the way we view and interact with others. By building a team with different references and backgrounds, we can get a more fully rounded assessment of suitability and avoid conscious or unconscious differences in the way we react to candidates.

Unconscious bias training

While you may see yourselves as progressive and inclusive employers, there very well may be unconscious biases that are affecting the way you recruit. This could be in the way you write job descriptions, the questions you ask in interviews, or even in the final decisions you make in hiring.

The first step is to accept that these biases exist, even if you can’t see them. Recruiters are statistically more likely to hire people who are like them. If you want a diverse workforce, that starts to become a problem. We’re trying to support all of our clients with options for unconscious bias training to help employees understand the history and context of our biases and start to build more inclusive recruitment best practices.

Accelerated development schemes

If you often struggle to attract BAME candidates for your roles, there are many things you can do to start diversifying your talent pool. This isn’t about gimmicks to get the attention of candidates, it is simply highlighting the processes you have in place for these candidates.

Your diversity and inclusion policy may include, for example, an accelerated development scheme. The purpose of a scheme such as this is to identify and train the most talented candidates from BAME and other minority backgrounds for positions higher up in organisations. If we are to address the gap at board and executive level across the board and more accurately represent our society, schemes like these are a good starting point.

Target setting

Your last step should be target setting. We’re introducing this for many of the organisations we work with. However, it’s important to note that these are organisations who have already started to implement robust diversity and inclusion processes. Recruitment targets, for example, should only be set with the knowledge that once staff are with you, your company culture is set up to allow them to grow and progress. 

If we want to progress as organisations and society as a whole, we have to reflect the world that we live in. The statistics show that organisations are still struggling to improve diversity in every industry and at every level. We hope that a renewed commitment to extensive diversity and inclusion policies, including recruitment, will start to make a difference. 

If you would like support implementing more inclusive recruitment practices to your organisation, get in touch with our team to see how we can help at info@andersenjames.com