Gas distribution network SGN is adamant that it needs a diverse workplace and an inclusive culture if they’re to future-proof their business. In-house Recruiter, Hayley Mowbray, shares how they’ve embedded inclusive hiring practices, her advice on how to make such initiatives successful, and some of the great wins they’ve had so far.
There are so many benefits of being a more diverse and inclusive workplace, says Hayley. “By understanding the value different people can bring to the table, and working with a variety of skills and perspectives, we’re able to innovate faster, understand our customers better and access a wider talent pool. It’s all about protecting our business for the future.”
Since joining SGN in early 2019, Hayley’s been focused on making the company’s recruitment processes more inclusive.
“We want to remove any pre-existing barriers there might be, whether that’s the wording of a job advert, our interview process or our hiring manager’s unconscious bias. It’s important that we’re giving everyone a fair opportunity.”
A big part of this has been working with hiring managers to change their mindset and behaviours.
“In the past, some of our managers have tended to make very similar hiring decisions based on a narrow talent pool,” explains Hayley.
“But we’ve been working hard to widen that candidate pool and help our managers understand the bigger picture, and support and guide them in being brave and making the best decisions.”
4 tips for more inclusive hiring
For those wanting to implement inclusive recruitment and hiring practices, Hayley shares some advice:
Ask questions and listen
“Talk to the people making the day-to-day hiring decisions, and understand the barriers they have and how to best communicate change to them. Because whatever initiatives you put in place, it only means something if the whole business is on board.”
Coach your hiring managers
“Your managers need to be aware of why it’s important to make inclusive hiring decisions, and what the benefits are to them and the business in the long run. We do this through coaching workshops, e-learning videos and one-to-one tuition.”
Have the executive team lead the way
”Since our executive team and CEO has spearheaded diversity and inclusion and begun discussing its importance, there’s been an increase in engagement from the business. Managers are now eager to learn how to make more inclusive hiring decisions.”
Be realistic when setting goals and expectations
”You need to consider the talent pool you’re hiring from and understand if your targets are realistic – that’s been a big learning for me. For example, we know there’s a nationwide shortage of female engineers and fewer teenage girls consider engineering as a career path. This is a barrier to getting more women into our operational roles and we need to be conscious of that.”
Making job adverts more inclusive
Hayley saw an opportunity to make SGN’s job adverts more inclusive, so she undertook the WORK180 job ad training in late 2019.
“Previously our job adverts were written in such a detailed, technical way they read more like a job description. Only someone from our industry or someone from a similar role would understand it or be able to engage with it,” she says.
“The training helped us identify that, and understand the different detractors for men and women, and how to use neutral language to appeal to a diverse group of people. It also helps you see what you’ve written from a candidate’s perspective.”
Hiring for diversity and transferable skills
One job advert that was rewritten following the training was for a Trainee Team Manager role.
“Historically, we had been getting applicants for this role that were very similar to one another. They all had experience in the industry and had generally done a similar role beforehand. The candidate pool was narrow and almost exclusively male.”
To widen the talent pool and attract people with different mindsets, Hayley and her team decided to wipe the slate clean and instead focus on transferable skills.
“We said, ‘Let’s throw out what we’ve done before and really look at this. What do we actually need from these people?’ And we only needed them to have great management and leadership potential.”
“So in the job advert we focused on how eager we were to find good leaders, encouraged people from a variety of backgrounds to apply and explained that we’d provide the necessary training. There was nothing in there about our industry, working in depots or managing a team of operational people.”
The result was a huge increase in applications, from diverse backgrounds.
“It was quite noticeable straight away just how different these applicants were. There were teachers, nurses and retail team leaders, and 40% were women.”
Concerned about the time it would take the hiring managers to review the high volume of CVs, Hayley’s team used a video screening tool.
“We wanted our managers to see the potential in every applicant, so we had them review these videos before seeing the CV. The videos were quite engaging and gave our managers a much better impression of what the person had to offer.”
At that point, it all came together.
“Our managers had gone through the training and suddenly they had a more diverse pool of applicants to hire from, so they were quite engaged in seeing what these people had to offer.”
The result was an increase in the number of women interviewed and more women hired into the Trainee Team Manager role than ever before. “For SGN, that is a gigantic leap forward.”