Group of children sat on the grass. Photo is in black and white and is for the inclusive hiring process blog

Written by:
Iain Blair

How to create a more inclusive hiring process

Creating an inclusive hiring process is far from a one size fits all approach, but where’s the best place to start?

Whilst we’d like to think that we’re all on the same page with the importance of inclusivity by now, we’re still on the road to societal inclusion for all. For those of us lucky enough to be in decision-making positions, we have an incredibly important role to play in ensuring we continue to travel down it.

However, with 62% of people saying they would turn down a job offer from a company that didn’t support a diverse workforce, it’s crucial you get it right.

From unconscious bias to the classic ‘culture fit’, there’s a lot to tackle. So, as a leader, where do you start?

Viewing hiring through a different lens

Being in favour of inclusion and actively promoting it are two very different things. The difference lies in the acceptance that we all have unconscious bias and view things through our very personal lens.

There’s no shame in that, by the way. It’s only natural to think from our perspective. Plus, studies show that we’re naturally drawn to people who look and think like us.

But this goes in the face of diversity and inclusion.

To counteract our natural biases, we need to do more perspective taking and view the hiring process through the lens of people not like ourselves, in order to identify areas preventing people from diverse backgrounds from applying.

So, how is this done?

Write inclusive job descriptions

I’m adamant that no employer goes out of its way to exclude any candidates – that’s just not something that would be beneficial in any way. But I’m just as convinced that many are ‘guilty’ – if that’s the right word – of inadvertently putting off certain people from applying, just from the wording of their job descriptions.

Recognising where you might be exclusive can be tricky, to say the least. That’s why tools like Ongig’s Text Analyser exist, helping you remove bias (race, disability, age, sexual orientation, mental health, and more) in your job descriptions and making them gender neutral.

Be explicit about your efforts

In addition to getting the wording right, you might want to highlight some of the things your company is doing to promote diversity.

For example, you could highlight how you’ve levelled the playing field on gender representation, including some hard stats on your careers page showing the ‘then’ and ‘now’.

Other things you could mention – if they’re relevant – are employee resource groups, mentoring programmes and, even more explicating, diversity training. It’s all about painting your company as being progressive and inclusive.

Take ‘positive action’

‘Positive action’ refers to a range of measures and initiatives that we, as recruiters, can lawfully take to help or encourage more diversity within the application stage. However, it does not remove the need for candidates to demonstrate they are the most qualified for the job.

A relevant example right now might be promoting employment opportunities at a Pride event, to guarantee that you’re reaching LGBTQ+ communities. Or it might be encouraging more family-friendly flexible working patterns within role descriptions.

Some recruiters like to include a positive action statement in their job descriptions, which is fine – but I’d personally want to see and hear how the company is backing this up with events and policies.

Move away from ‘culture fit’

For a long time now, it’s been about finding candidates who are a “culture fit” for the business. But doesn’t this perpetuate ‘more of the same’ as opposed to increasing the diversity of your teams?

Instead, consider whether a candidate will be a “culture add” – someone who will help build your culture to the inclusive environment you want it to be.

Craft your questions with a focus on capabilities rather than experience and personality. That way, interviewers are asking themselves if this is someone who will elevate the team – rather than if it’s someone they want to have a beer with afterwards!

We understand that making sure you have an inclusive recruitment process can be tricky to get right due to its nuances. If you feel like you could do with some informed pointers, you know where we are.


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