Diversity & Inclusion

6 Diversity and Inclusion recruitment best practices

Lydia Watson

You want the business benefits of diversity. You also want to boost retention rates. Both of these things are important, and they’re not mutually exclusive either – in fact, the close connection between the two is worth considering. 

For best practices for diversity recruiting – and much more! – download our free guide to inclusion.

To build diverse teams that stay, consider diversity in recruitment practices. Without that your efforts are wasted: so here’s 6 top tips to follow:

1. Understand if your workplace is culturally inclusive 

The first, and most useful, piece of advice we can give you doesn’t have much to do with recruitment itself. But skip this step, and all your diversity hiring initiatives will ultimately fail: make sure you have an inclusive culture. 

Think about it like this: if your workplace is not just homogenous but downright unwelcoming, then all your ‘diverse hires’ will notice. No matter how successful you are at actually recruiting a wider range of candidates, many of them will end up quitting. Wasting your time and money. 

You need a way of measuring inclusion – something we can help with – to understand if your organisation is at the right place to launch an effective diversity and inclusion recruitment strategy. And if it’s not? Employee feedback can show you how to get there.

2. Assess your employee value proposition: is it inclusive?

From salary and perks to industry connections and a sense of purpose, your ‘employee value proposition’ is everything you offer to a prospective candidate. What do they get out of working for you?

When trying to attract diverse applicants, realise a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work. Here are two examples why:

  • Multigenerational workforce:  under-25s and over-60s will have completely different wants and needs, when it comes to building an effective EVP. Pension and life insurance have much more resonance with one of these groups, where a buzzing workplace and progression opportunities matter more to the other. 
  • Multicultural workforce: ‘boozy Fridays’ are a clear cultural indicator that doesn’t hit home with everyone – so bragging about it in your job ad, especially without gesturing to other socialising opportunities, might be a big red flag for some.

3. Consider role expectations in your diversity hiring goals

Whatever position you’re trying to fill, take an honest look at your own expectations. This will require some serious self-reflection. The qualities, credentials, and experience you want to see could be blocking diverse candidates from applying.  

Firstly, consider that disadvantaged groups won’t have had the same experiences. Is an Oxbridge 2.2 better than a first class degree from a polytechnic, or are you just drawn in by the name? If one candidate hasn’t done any impressive (unpaid) internships, is it because they didn’t have the right family connections – or the budget to work for free?

Think about soft and hard skills, too. Things like communication, teamwork, and organisation are often linked to women – and seen as less valuable than technical prowess. But what can be learnt on the job?

Inclusion Guide

4. Review language as part of your DEI recruiting strategies

Writing a good job advert itself is absolutely key, when it comes to building a diversity and inclusion recruitment strategy. It’s about the language you use. Are you showing that you’re inclusive, or just telling readers that’s the case? 

Try to avoid gender-coded words, for example, like ‘winner’ or ‘aggressive’. Avoid pronouns. Think about the audience you’re writing for: is the way you’re describing desired qualities making them think of themselves? 

And as a side note: don’t forget to review your diversity sourcing techniques. Where are you placing this job advert? Is it going to be seen by the people you want to see it? If not, do your research, reach out to your network, and find somewhere beyond your usual talent pool.

5. In interviews and beyond, follow diversity hiring best practices

Is your application process set up for success, when it comes to DEI? Consider every stage: from assessing CVs, holding interviews, and reviewing written tasks. 

Be aware of the lure of ‘cultural fit’ – that’s exactly what you’re trying to avoid! – and be conscious of unconscious bias. This refers to the shortcuts your brain makes, and plays on stereotypes and assumptions about certain types of people. This can cloud your judgement. 

And even if you’ve tackled this, be understanding about the pressure of interview situations. It’s a high-stress scenario that some personalities thrive at, and others don’t. If you discount the tremblers, fidgeters, and stutterers on those bases alone, your diverse team will be hard to find. 

6. Remember that diversity hiring initiatives don’t end post-hire

We’re circling back round to the start, because it’s still the most important thing to remember. If you don’t have an inclusive workplace, your D&I initiatives will fail. Simple as that.

Once the offer letter has been signed, the whole process continues. Your next job is to check in on your diverse team, and understand their experiences of worklife. How you do that is up to you: you could survey new starters after a month, or have regular 121s. 

Whatever approach you take, it’s your responsibility to make sure your newly diverse workforce thrives – personally, socially, emotionally, and professionally. Don’t take that lightly. 

Get the building blocks right: measure inclusion at your organisation

Measuring inclusion. It’s essential, but it’s not easy. That’s why we designed an Inclusion Survey – based on industry expertise and lots of research – to help quantify feelings, and understand employee experience, and see where your organisation might be falling short.

Read about how it works here, and sign up (for free!) to try it out for yourself: 

It’s time to start measuring inclusion

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