These are the thoughts and takeaways from the latest Resourcing Think Tank (RTT) held on Thursday 13th June 2013 hosted by UK Power Network’s Dawn Collier (Talent Acquisition Manager) , titled ‘Creating an Inclusive Recruitment Process’.
The following summary has been prepared to reflect a segment of the discussion held amongst senior HR and Resourcing professionals from leading national and international businesses. Specific company details, experiences and examples have been omitted from this summary as all discussions are held under ‘Chatham House Rules’.
A business’s journey to asserting total confidence in an inclusive recruitment process is by no means a new one, but it’s certainly a hot topic at present. Organisations that embody an inclusive recruitment process open themselves up to larger talent pools and as research shows, positively influence the bottom line, amongst many other reasons for being inclusive.
So how can a business maximise its opportunities to recruit this diverse talent and balance the following challenges to ensure the recruitment process is in fact an inclusive one?
- Identifying and removing barriers within the existing process to ensure opportunities are fully accessible
- Sourcing and managing third party providers
- Advertising and sourcing diverse talent
- Countering unconscious bias and developing a good diversity etiquette
- Engaging the wider business on the importance of diversity.
One of the first questions to ask yourself when embarking on an inclusive recruitment strategy or attempting to diversify your workforce is ‘what are the motivators for doing it?’ Arguably, there are three different reasons. Firstly, from a commercial perspective; perhaps your driver is competitive advantage like SAP in their recent ‘Autism Recruitment Drive’. Secondly, because it’s enforced; perhaps the geographical location of your business requires you to adhere to a set of regulations. Or thirdly, is it just because it’s morally the right thing to do? Perhaps it’s a bit of all three, but nevertheless understanding your motivators is key and will ultimately help you measure success further down the line.
It Starts with Culture
All businesses already have a diverse workforce based on the fact that every employees is different in terms of age, gender etc. However, does your organisation embody a culture that makes people feel comfortable disclosing that they have a disability? For instance 74% of people won’t disclose a disability within the recruitment process in fear of being discriminated against. Therefore addressing culture is often your starting point and is crucial from an inclusivity perspective. A well-known utility provider was concerned that they didn’t employ anyone with a disability, however once the cultural issue was tackled, two years later they noted 800 members of existing staff as having a disability. It’s important to bear in mind that people will want to know why you’re asking and also be clear about what constitutes as having a disability, as a large proportion of people might not consider themselves to have a ‘disability’.
Managing your Supply Chain
If your business isn’t diversely representative then clearly something needs to change. Often the supply chain acts as a blocker for attracting and recruiting diverse talent. So, what can you do to ensure your supply chain embraces diversity and doesn’t just pay lip service to it? Asking suppliers to simply send through a copy of their diversity policy shouldn’t be enough, there’s a strong change that it could have been copied and pasted from the internet! However, getting them to present to you around what they’re doing from an inclusivity perspective is a good start – are they Clear Assured? Do they provide accessibility software on their website? Do they train their staff around unconscious bias? A large law firm actually culled their PSL from 300 to 100 agencies based on a failure to comply with diversity and inclusion standards. After all, how are you going to diversify your workforce and find the best people if you continue to look in the same places?
Attracting Talent through Job Advertisements
Within the recruitment process, it’s important to be aware of the use of language within job advertisements. Wording and semantics can heavily influence whether one individual applies for a role over another, irrespective of their suitability. For example, research shows that a woman would only submit a job application if they met nine out 10 points on the job criteria, whereas a man is more likely to apply if he only met three! This analogy is also relevant for consideration inline with promotions, as men tend to shout louder about their achievements and will often move up the ranks quicker.
Tackling Unconscious Bias
For recruiters and hiring managers, unconscious bias training is imperative as it raises awareness of factors in the recruitment process that may make them gravitate to one candidate over another, for instance how similar they are to themselves. This type of training isn’t designed to reprimand people for thinking in a particular way, as obviously it’s unconscious, however it acts as the catalyst to challenge their thought and decision making process. So is this type of training commercially viable? Of course, as if you aren’t open to hiring diverse talent because you can’t relate to them, then you’re potentially preventing the best people from joining your business.
Aside from training, what measures can be introduced to the recruitment process to reduce the impact of unconscious bias? Some businesses report success with removing names from the application process and only disclosing them upon shortlisting. However, it could be argued that this is simply delaying the point at which the discrimination will take place. It’s also advisable to introduce more tangible measures of selection into the process, such as psychometrics assessing behaviours, motivations and intellect. For instance if you’re personally able to relate to a candidate during the interview process and therefore feel confident that they are the person for the job, ensure you base the final decision on their psychometric results to sense-check your judgment.
Engaging the Workforce on the Importance of Diversity
Ultimately, diversity and inclusion (D&I) shouldn’t just be something that’s talked about; it needs to be fundamentally embedded in the culture. Generating engagement amongst the workforce is crucial. Networking forums tend to work really well, however it’s advised that you don’t pigeon-whole people based on their protected characteristics. Groups aimed at all employees tend to be effective and help promote the message that you are celebrating differences.
Success has also been reported by using ambassador programmes as an engagement vehicle. One ambassador or role model is elected on behalf of each of the nine protected characteristics; these individuals are responsible for representing the views of their group, networking with fellow ambassadors and keeping the D&I agenda alive and visible.
Whilst it’s great to build engagement amongst diverse talent groups, what’s also important is to ensure the wider business is bought-in and involved in conversations. For instance if you run a LGBT networking group, encouraging heterosexual employees to participate is going to be highly beneficial for engagement. As suggested by a RTT member, why not introduce the ‘straight ally’ concept (heterosexual LGBT supporters) and insist that when attending an LGBT event members must bring at least one ‘straight ally’?
When looking to demonstrate ROI as a bi-product of an inclusive recruitment process, often the main thing is the fact that you’re not discriminating! In essence, you are recruiting the best possible talent for your organisation and are therefore allowing your business to perform at the highest level. However, it’s worth noting that having a diverse workforce on it’s own when the environment isn’t inclusive is ultimately going to be counterproductive.
- Ensure that your organisation reflects a culture whereby employees are going to be happy disclosing a disability should they have one
- Fully understand your motivators for diversifying your workforce before attempting to make any changes
- Be aware of how job advertisements will be read by different people when proactively attempting to target a particular group
- Think about diversity as ‘celebrating differences’ and communicate this to the wider business
- Introduce measures to the recruitment process to reduce the affect of unconscious bias
- HR initiatives often come and go, so ensure that you have sustained long-term commitment from the leadership team to guarantee continued success
- Work with your supply chain to ensure they are taking proactive steps to attract diverse talent
- Ensure all success stories concerning diversity are communicated back to the business to positively reinforce all the great things being achieved
- Incorporate diversity and inclusion into the employer branding strategy and build it into the business’s EVP
- Being diverse in terms of workforce make-up is great, but unless you’re inclusive it’s counter-productive.