July 11, 2022

Is your hiring process inclusive? Are you sure?

inclusive hiring processes

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Let us begin by clarifying: The question in the headline isn’t ‘do you hire diverse talent?’ It’s ‘is your hiring process inclusive?’ 

There’s a big difference. 

What is an inclusive hiring process?

An inclusive hiring or recruitment process not only recognizes the importance of hiring diverse talent but embraces the needs of diverse candidates. It goes beyond the tokenistic search for candidates of different races or genders and instead engages equitable hiring practices that overcome unconscious biases and make all candidates feel empowered to put their best foot forward throughout the recruitment process. 

The benefits of an inclusive recruitment process

A diverse workforce brings a distinct mix of viewpoints and opinions into the business, but it takes an inclusive culture to really reap the benefits of those perspectives. So, doesn’t it make sense that this inclusivity begins from the candidates’ very first touchpoint with your company?

As candidates progress through the recruitment process, they want the opportunity to put their best foot forward. As an employer, giving all candidates this opportunity through equitable processes means great talent won’t be overlooked. 

So, we’ve put together a checklist to make sure your hiring processes truly are inclusive. 

️ Are your job descriptions inclusive?

To create a welcoming and inclusive environment in the early stages of your hiring process, it is critical to use inclusive language that invites candidates in. Job descriptions (along with all your other recruitment communications) should be written without gendered language, jargon, or idioms that can make potential candidates feel excluded.

The complexity of your job description also plays a role. Use short, simple sentences that emphasize the must-have skills for a candidate, rather than an exhaustive list of qualifications. Listing every possible qualification is not only intimidating, but when you really think about it, does the role really require them all? 

For instance, if you consider a degree from a top university essential, think again. Elite universities are not known for their diversity. It’s much harder for people of color, those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, and those with disabilities to attend and excel at these institutions.

And does the candidate really need a driving license? Requiring a driving license when it isn’t essential restricts people with disabilities who might not be able to drive. 

Finally, pay attention to your formatting. Italics and underlining can make it difficult for candidates with dyslexia or visual impairments to read your job posting. Stick to large fonts and bold words that you wish to emphasize. 

We also recommend explicitly stating your company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion within job descriptions. Link to employee resource groups, codes of conduct, and other company-wide initiatives to help candidates understand how your organization supports its employees. Also include a reasonable accommodations statement that ensures candidates with mobility, vision, or hearing needs can participate.

“Our position descriptions and advertisements are written in conjunction with the leadership team, HR, and the hiring managers. They focus on aligning roles with skills and competencies. We make considerable effort to help reduce bias in the way we write about Nufarm roles.”

– Kieran Williams (he/him), TA Business Partner at Nufarm.

️ Is your recruitment advertising inclusive?

In addition to writing your job descriptions carefully, it’s critical to make sure your careers site is accessible to all viewers. 

Some of the most common difficulties job seekers with disabilities experience with careers sites include:

  • Complex navigation: If your website isn’t programmed with accessibility in mind, it can be hard for screen readers to navigate.
  • Keyboard accessibility: Can someone navigate your entire website without the use of a mouse? 
  • Poor screen contrast: Ensure that people with color blindness or low-vision impairments can use your website by testing design elements for proper color contrast.
  • Video captions: If you have a video on your careers page, do you have transcripts and captions so hearing-impaired prospective applicants can still consume your content?

Beyond your own platforms, it’s also important to check if your sourcing strategies are too narrow for true inclusivity. If you only advertise in spaces that certain candidates will access, you’ll only get one type of candidate. By switching up the way you’ve always done things, you can connect with applicants who may not have seen your open job position in the past.

“We have been working with a range of specialist recruitment organizations, including WORK180, who support talent attraction by proactively promoting opportunities at Telegraph Media Group (TMG).

We run inclusive hiring practises across all our recruitment by working with diversity partners to widen our search, ensuring that we have inclusive language on all of our job descriptions and monitoring our data to ensure we have diverse applicant shortlists for roles at all levels across TMG as a whole.”

– Sarah Lambley (she/her), Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging at Telegraph Media Group.

️ Is your shortlisting process inclusive?

When screening candidates, our biases around social interactions can come into play. It can be incredibly difficult for humans to completely eliminate bias, particularly if it is subconscious. 

To avoid this, some organizations might use an AI recruitment tool to screen their candidates objectively. However, AI is not automatically free from bias either. So, if your process does include AI software, it’s crucial to ensure the software is enabled for customization. This way, not only can you adjust the tool to fit the unique and specific needs for each role, but you can also regularly check for any imbedded human bias. 

For those who don’t use AI tools, it’s best practice to have at least two people shortlisting in a formal meeting setting. And ideally, the team should be made up of diverse team members. When people with varied perspectives filter candidates, the group can challenge each other’s biases.

Assessing CVs without including any personal information is also an effective way to remove any bias against diverse applicants. And scoring applications against objective criteria is an obvious must-do to eliminate bias and encourage merit-based shortlisting. 

And if your shortlisting processes include role-specific tasks, avoid limited timed assessments. Many people with cognitive disabilities or neurodiversity or those using assistive technology require extra time to navigate a website and complete tasks. 

“Firstly, we read every resume that is submitted to ExaPD, and we are committed to responding to every applicant (via email or phone for candidates who participate in later-stage interviews). 

At our CV Review stage perfection is not required we love candidates that are ready for their next step and can grow into the role!”

– Sarah Bardwell (she/her), General Manager at ExaPD.

️ Is your interview process inclusive?

Interviews are still the most popular selection method amongst employers. But to ensure an inclusive process, interviewers need to be careful that they allow candidates to properly demonstrate their skills and suitability for the role and avoid making an inappropriate snap judgement on the individual.

Look for ways to bring diverse team members into your hiring process. Part of setting the right interview tone is to have as diverse a panel as possible. This is a chance to actively demonstrate that you are a diverse organization reassuring candidates that you employ people like them.

While your job description might include a statement for reasonable adjustments, does your interview process proactively check whether the interviewee needs any of these adjustments?

As virtual recruiting has become the new normal, interviews will now often occur using video calls where the background may be the candidate’s home – and this invites new challenges to remain inclusive.

If you plan to use video interviews, set all your candidates up for success by providing video interview best practices in advance and including recommendations for lighting and audio.

Also, when conducting video interviews, it’s important to note that candidates may not have access to the latest technology at home or could be sharing living space with limited private or quiet areas. These factors do not impact how well a candidate could do the job. Being aware of how background visuals and noise impact your perspective of a candidate’s professionalism or organizational fit is critical and can help to address unconscious bias head-on by naming it.

“We ensure flexibility on interview times and preferred interviewing styles, i.e. in person or over zoom. We have candidates that can only interview before school drop off, or after school pick up, so even when this goes outside of standard business hours, we make accommodations. 

We make sure to track all feedback through our applicant tracking system, which makes sure we can align to the key skills matrix for the role and eliminate bias from the process.”

– Samira Cejan (she/her), Talent Lead at Whispir.

️ Is your onboarding process inclusive?

Surveys have found that about 30% of jobseekers will leave a job within the first 90 days of hiring. A well-developed onboarding program for the first 90 days makes all the difference in the world when it comes to engagement and retention. 

Within that first 90 days ensure there’s time allocated to introducing your new team members to the leads from your employee resource groups. 

Adopting and promoting a flexible work policy will also not only assist in attracting diverse talent and fostering an inclusive workforce, but letting new recruits access this policy from day one is important too. 

“All of our new joiners attend Accenture new joiner experience, a dedicated three-day program to make new joiners feel welcome and comfortable, currently delivered virtually that enables people to get up to speed with Accenture and working in a remote environment.

We run awareness/ education training sessions for all those involved in Inclusion and Diversity (I&D) recruitment programs or source channels, and this extends beyond the recruitment process, to include ongoing education and support for supervisors, buddies, people leads and immediate project teams of individuals who join via an I&D program.” 

– Ma. Antonette Ong-Tolentino (she/her), Marketing Specialist from Accenture.

What it looks like when you get it right

Examples of inclusive hiring processes and testimonials for their benefits from our Endorsed Employers:

“My onboarding experience at Whispir was first class. From the first encounter, multiple interviews and through to the onboarding experience; I felt at ease to be myself. Not only was I stoked to come on board, I walked away feeling like I was already part of the team.

My experience did not match the job description exactly, and I appreciate the talent team looking into my transferable skills, and not just the titles I held. The talent team at Whispir and my direct manager made my start at Whispir amazing! I couldn’t have asked for more.’ 

– Alana Murray (she/her), Workplace Experience Coordinator at Whispir.

“The recruitment process from the get-go embodied inclusion, diversity, and equality. I had multiple senior female leadership members interview me and talk about the opportunity and great initiatives at Accenture, with Pride @Accenture pillar aligning heavily with my passions and sense of belonging.” 

– Christopher Leonard (he/him), Management Consulting Analyst at Accenture.

“Nufarm’s inclusive hiring processes see us commit to our stakeholders, senior leadership and workforce to have not less than 35% of either gender. We also commit to having at least one woman on all selection interview panels and at least two women on shortlists.”

– Kieran Williams (he/him), TA Business Partner at Nufarm.

“The team at Accenture put in every effort to make sure the recruitment process was as seamless and welcoming as possible. I felt heard and valued by everyone I met and am confident that I have access to all the opportunities needed to continue developing my career here at Accenture.”

– Maxine Koh (she/her), Technology Strategy Consultant at Accenture.

Have any of the employers from the examples above inspired you?

Be sure to see the other great work they’re doing in the diversity, equity and inclusion space by checking out their Endorsed Employer Pages: 

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About the Author
Jacynta Clayton’s career started in recruitment advertising and employer branding, working with global clients to create and deploy strategic and creative content. Now she combines her industry experience with the knowledge from her psychology and professional writing degrees to write unique and resounding stories. As a WORK180 storyteller she relishes the opportunity to elevate the voices and experiences of so many amazing people, while also empowering and educating audiences on how to choose a workplace where they can thrive.

Looking for a new opportunity?

Our transparent job board only has vacancies from employers we endorse and lets you see what benefits, policies and perks come with the job.