Inclusive Hiring – How to Build Diverse Recruiting Strategies

13 things recruiters should avoid to create inclusive hiring processes

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Words: David Gevorkian

While companies are working towards improving their inclusion tactics, it is common for obstacles to pop up, eliminating potentials from minorities or specific groups. Therefore, as a recruiter, one of your primary roles is eliminating such bias in the hiring process.

Embracing diversity and inclusion in the workplace requires analyzing your processes to find out what you have been doing wrong and fixing it, enabling your organization to enjoy the benefits and growth of this change. Here’s all you need to know about inclusive hiring, including 13 things recruiters should avoid to embrace inclusive recruitment.

What Is an Inclusive Recruitment Strategy?

Before diving into what recruiters should avoid for inclusive hiring, let us first understand an inclusive recruitment strategy.

An inclusive recruitment strategy is a set of goals, actions, policies, and measures that attract, assess and hire diverse talent. This strategy focuses on widening the recruitment net to attract more candidates and remove obstacles that certain groups encounter in the recruitment process. An inclusive recruitment strategy hires people from different:

  • Cultures
  • Genders
  • Identities
  • Religions
  • Nationalities
  • Socio-economic classes
  • Intellectual and physical capabilities

Inclusive recruitment strategies consider how different values, opinions, and experiences can work together toward a common goal. Through a diverse environment, your team can think outside their comfort zone, and improve team performance, hence high chances of new ideas and thoughts.

Today, inclusive recruitment strategies offer a way for organizations to ensure their employees of all communities and backgrounds are safe and welcome in the workforce, and implementing this strategy alongside other measures relating to the company culture and management styles will result in a positive work environment for all workers.

Why Is Inclusive Hiring Important?

The recruitment process entails1 the first contact employees have with an organization and will determine their attitude as they go into the workspace and their likelihood of working with the company in the future.

Therefore, inclusive hiring is the best way to ensure diversity and attract talent in your organization. This way, you will also fulfill the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 and leverage the quality of applicants who apply to vacancies at the time.

Through inclusive hiring, you will also benefit from diverse insights and perspectives. This diversity will bring experiences and skills that ensure your organization can plan and execute a unique business strategy. Diverse insights and perspectives will also bring superior innovations compared to organizations with less diversity, enabling you to stay competitive in the market.

Lastly, by practicing diversity, you will get positive views from your consumers and employees as you appear more ethical and responsible than those with less inclusive policies. With positive branding, you will get more opportunities in new markets.

13 Things To Avoid To Embrace Inclusive Hiring

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Inclusive hiring is beyond sourcing a diverse applicant pool and includes reaching these candidates actively until you hire them. Here are 13 tips recruiters should avoid to implement a diverse recruiting strategy.

Unfortunately, many recruiters defer their focus on diversity until they are well into the recruitment process. To address this challenge, organizations should proactively implement strategies aimed at cultivating diverse pipelines.

Diverse pipelines involve cultivating relationships with a variety of sources, including educational institutions, community organizations, and industry-specific networks. By actively engaging with these diverse channels during slower recruitment seasons, recruiters can establish a pool of candidates from underrepresented backgrounds. 

Slower seasons may vary by industry but often coincide with periods of reduced business activity. During these times, recruiters can strategically focus on building partnerships, refining sourcing strategies, and fortifying their commitment to diversity and inclusion. 

In the rush to fill roles quickly, recruiters often resort to making best guesses when setting goals. To overcome this challenge, the recruitment team should leverage employee and candidate data to develop a strategic plan aligned with their business objectives.

Establishing realistic and measurable goals ensures accountability and success in promoting inclusive hiring practices. Some of the realistic goals here include;

  • Diversity in applicant pool: Aim to increase the representation of candidates from underrepresented groups in the applicant pool by a specific percentage within a defined timeframe.
  • Interview panel diversity: Set a goal to have diverse interview panels, ensuring a mix of individuals from different backgrounds and experiences participate in the selection process.
  • Employee retention: Track and improve the retention rates of hires from underrepresented backgrounds to foster a more inclusive and equitable workplace.

The kind of data you should consider when executing this plan include;

  • Demographic data: Analyze demographic information of current employees and candidates to identify areas for improvement and track progress toward diversity goals.
  • Time-to-fill metrics: Evaluate the time it takes to fill positions, considering different demographic groups, to identify potential biases and enhance efficiency in the inclusive hiring process.
  • Employee feedback: Gather feedback from current employees, particularly those from underrepresented groups, to understand their experiences and identify areas for improvement in the hiring and onboarding processes.

Unconscious bias often lurks within job descriptions, influencing who feels encouraged to apply. To counter this, start with the basics by refining the job descriptions’ language, requirements, and structure. Eliminate unnecessary jargon, lengthy words, and internal acronyms to create a more inclusive and accessible hiring process.

For example, instead of emphasizing strict academic qualifications, focus on the candidate’s skills and experience. You can focus more on practical skills and achievements necessary for success in the role rather than demanding a specific degree.

Using jargon can also discourage some people from applying. Here are tips to ensure you stay on track;

  • Industry-specific terms: Replace technical terms or industry-specific language with plain language that can be easily understood by a broader audience.
  • Internal acronyms: Clarify or eliminate internal acronyms that might confuse external candidates unfamiliar with the organization’s terminology.
  • Buzzwords: Minimize the use of buzzwords or trendy phrases that may unintentionally exclude certain candidates.

Reading tip: How to improve writing skills?

A job description will attract or repel specific demographics of people depending on the words they carry. For instance, words like decisive and fast-paced have a male bias, while loyal has a female bias. Consider gender-neutral language for inclusive job advertisements to eliminate bias from the onset, and review the messaging of your posts to check if they could be discriminatory to potential applicants.

The language used in job descriptions can inadvertently attract or discourage specific demographic groups. Certain words may carry gender bias; for example, terms like “decisive” and “fast-paced” may have a male bias, while “loyal” might have a female bias. To promote inclusivity from the beginning, it’s crucial to opt for gender-neutral language in job advertisements.

Instead of using gender-specific terms like “assertive” or “nurturing,” opt for inclusive alternatives such as “effective” or “collaborative” to appeal to a broader range of candidates.

Be mindful of words that might unintentionally discourage certain demographics. For instance, phrases like “strong leadership” may inadvertently lean toward male stereotypes, whereas “team collaboration” is more neutral.

Anonymity proves to be a straightforward yet powerful practice in fostering inclusive recruitment. To attract a diverse pool of talent, companies should refrain from requesting photos on resumes, as this hiring practice can introduce common sources of discrimination.

By removing photo requirements from CVs, organizations not only protect candidates from potential bias but also guide the hiring team toward focusing on relevant qualifications and experience. 

Here are some tips on getting rid of photo requirements;

  • Anti-discrimination measure: Removing photo requests helps mitigate biases related to age, gender, ethnicity, or physical appearance, promoting a fair evaluation process based solely on qualifications.
  • Focus on relevant information: Encourage your hiring team to concentrate on evaluating candidates based on their skills, experience, and accomplishments, ensuring that the inclusive recruitment process remains objective and merit-driven.

A common challenge faced by recruiters is the lack of awareness regarding where to find diverse candidates, often stemming from a dearth of connections with diverse communities. To address this gap, it is crucial for recruiters to actively engage with local organizations, such as schools, resource centers, or businesses, fostering mutually beneficial relationships that contribute to goodwill.

Collaborate with local organizations by offering workshops, seminars, or mentorship programs for their members. In return, seek opportunities for your company to participate in career fairs or networking events hosted by these organizations.

Understand the unique needs of diverse communities and tailor your engagement efforts accordingly. For instance, if partnering with a local school, explore initiatives like internship programs, scholarships, or educational workshops to support students from underrepresented backgrounds.

Another common hiring mistake is channeling your recruitment efforts to applicants from top or elite schools. While recruiters will find great candidates from such schools, companies should look beyond to reach as many potential candidates as possible. This way, you will grow your applicants’ margin and allow your company access to team members with varying ideas and perspectives.

  • Actively seek talent from various educational backgrounds, including schools with diverse student populations. This approach ensures a richer mix of experiences and viewpoints within your team.
  • Shift the focus from the prestige of a candidate’s alma mater to their skills, potential, and unique contributions. This approach allows companies to tap into a more extensive talent pool and discover individuals with a range of backgrounds and perspectives.

Technology is vital when it comes to inclusive recruitment if used responsibly. While your diversity recruitment efforts can start with the best intentions, if they lack easy-to-use technology, growing and supporting a diverse workforce will be challenging.

Through an audit focused on web accessibility, you can establish whether the current technology in your organization is inclusive and improve the areas of weakness.  

Here are tips on how to rightfully incorporate technology in your recruitment process;

  • Screening for bias: Choose recruitment software that employs advanced algorithms to screen candidates based on relevant qualifications, skills, and experience, mitigating the risk of unconscious biases influencing the selection process.
  • User-friendly interface: Opt for technology with an easy-to-use interface, ensuring accessibility for all team members involved in the recruitment process. A user-friendly platform encourages collaboration and helps streamline the inclusive hiring workflow.
  • Evaluate current technology: Perform an accessibility audit on your existing technology to identify areas of strength and weakness in terms of inclusivity. This audit can include assessing software interfaces, communication channels, and collaboration tools.

The traditional interviewing process, comprising handshakes, eye contact, and speech patterns, is a biased way to evaluate candidates. While these measures tell an interviewer certain aspects about a candidate, they subconsciously judge them on criteria that have nothing to do with the job.

Therefore, educate your panel on the microaggressions and neurodiversity towards marginalized groups and the importance of focusing on the job requirements.

Lacking interview flexibility can also hinder your inclusive hiring efforts. Persons from minority groups find it challenging to participate in job interviews conducted during business hours, while others will have challenges making it to your premises for an interview. By allowing flexible interview schedules, you can give candidates a fair shot for consideration for a position.

A biased offer will impact your organizational commitment to diversity and inclusion and can easily sneak into your job offers undetected. Besides being illegal, biased offers can also kill your brand.

To deal with biased offers regarding pay, use the individual’s ability, job position, and experience, as such lawsuits can be very expensive. You can screen your job offers for biases by seeking trusted reviews from your colleagues and team members or using software that automatically removes biased details.

Here are tips on making a fair offer:

  • Individual merits: Base salary offers on an individual’s abilities, job position, and experience rather than relying on potentially biased factors. This approach not only fosters equity but also safeguards against legal challenges.
  • Internal review process: Implement an internal review process for job offers, seeking input from colleagues and team members to ensure fairness and transparency. A collective review helps identify and rectify any inadvertent biases that might have been overlooked.

An effective diversity recruitment strategy will build on the recruitment content. If the videos, websites, and social media pages lack images and evidence of the items you are looking for, it will throw off your candidates. Thus, include diversity branding across your platforms by thinking through your target audience and reflecting them in your materials.

Here are ways we think you can execute this;

  • Tailor your visual content to resonate with your target audience. Consider the demographics of your desired talent pool and ensure that the imagery aligns with the diversity you seek within your organization.
  • Consistently include diversity branding across all platforms, ensuring that your materials showcase a variety of backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, and abilities. This approach creates an inclusive narrative that aligns with your commitment to diversity and inclusion.
  • Incorporate diverse employee testimonials in your materials. Sharing authentic experiences from individuals with varied backgrounds helps potential candidates see themselves as part of your inclusive workplace culture.

Tokenism in recruitment2 | 3 entails hiring someone from a minority group to prevent criticism and give the illusion of fair treatment of people. This practice can look like one person from a minority group is making it to the final pool of candidates, but in most cases, they are never chosen. To combat tokenism, here are tips we think will help;

  • Actively push for the inclusion of candidates from various demographic backgrounds in the final stages of the recruitment process. This ensures that the final pool genuinely reflects diversity and provides equal opportunities for individuals from all backgrounds.
  • Encourage a fair and unbiased evaluation process for all candidates, regardless of their demographic characteristics. Promote merit-based decision-making to select the most qualified individuals for the role.
  • Foster transparent communication about the importance of genuine inclusivity within the organization. Encourage hiring teams to voice concerns or identify instances of tokenism, promoting a culture of openness and accountability.

Diversity is an ongoing process, and even if your recruitment policy focuses on finding and hiring a diverse team, it will crumble if the people do not feel a sense of safety and warmth in the workplace. One way to ensure your employees are their authentic selves is to provide what they need. You can accomplish this through the following ways;

  • Establish anonymous feedback channels to allow employees to express their needs, concerns, and suggestions. This approach promotes open communication and helps identify areas for improvement in the workplace.
  • Plan events focusing on inclusion and invite speakers for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) holidays. These events not only celebrate diversity but also provide opportunities for education and dialogue, fostering a deeper understanding of the importance of inclusivity.
  • Tailor support initiatives based on the feedback received. Whether it’s implementing mentorship programs, flexible work arrangements, or mental health resources, demonstrating a commitment to addressing individual needs reinforces a culture of inclusion.

Inclusive Hiring – Embrace Diversity in Your Workplace

Image of a group of people involved in inclusive hiring processes

Summarizing our guide to inclusive hiring and recruitment. In today’s competitive world, companies must prioritize inclusion in their recruitment efforts. Overcoming the barriers to inclusion can be challenging, but with the right strategies, an organization can create an inclusive and diverse workforce.

Remember, creating a diverse workforce will give your organization access to fresh perspectives and foster innovation, allowing you to positively contribute to an equitable society.

Inclusive Hiring – 13 Things Recruiters Should Avoid

  1. Not Focusing on Diversity at the Start of the Recruitment Cycle
  2. Relying on the Best Guess for Goal-Setting
  3. Writing Non-Inclusive Job Descriptions
  4. Using Gender-biased Terminology in the Job Ad
  5. Asking for an Image on a CV
  6. Having No Relationships with Community Organizations
  7. Discriminatory School Sourcing
  8. Not Utilizing the Right Technology
  9. Conducting Biased Interviews
  10. Making a Biased Offer
  11. Using Un-diverse Imagery in Employee Materials
  12. Not Combating Tokenism in Recruitement
  13. Forgetting What People Need

What is Inclusive Hiring?

Inclusive hiring is a proactive approach to recruitment that aims to foster diversity and create a workplace environment that welcomes individuals from all backgrounds, regardless of their age, gender, race, ethnicity, abilities, or other characteristics. The goal is to build a workforce that reflects the broader society and benefits from a variety of perspectives, experiences, and skills.

One key aspect of inclusive hiring is the elimination of biases and barriers in the recruitment process. For instance, blind recruitment practices involve removing personal information such as names and addresses from resumes to prevent unconscious biases. Additionally, using inclusive language in job descriptions ensures that job opportunities appeal to a diverse audience.

Companies may also implement diversity and inclusion training programs to educate employees on the importance of embracing differences and creating an inclusive workplace culture. This can lead to increased awareness and sensitivity to the needs of all employees.

Overall, inclusive hiring is a holistic approach to building a diverse and welcoming workplace by addressing biases, promoting equal opportunities, and recognizing the value of differences. It goes beyond just recruitment, extending to the entire employee lifecycle, including onboarding, professional development, and retention strategies.

Sources: The Hiring and Recruitment Process – Purdue University 1 | Tokenism in Recruitment – 2, 3 | Best Practices for an Inclusive Hiring Process – Harvard 4

Author: David Gevorkian