Inclusion embraces the fact that everyone has value to add. So it just makes sense – on a business level and a personal level – for companies to make it a priority! Creating a welcoming workplace, where people from all walks of life feel comfortable, helps to foster innovation, creativity, and success.
And that all starts with inclusive recruitment and hiring.
When it comes to inclusive hiring, there are many factors to consider. It can be hard to know which actions actually make the biggest difference. But, there are some tried-and-true steps companies can take to make hiring practices more inclusive. We’ll break down seven of them below, explaining why they make an impact and how to implement them.
1. Write job ads that invite everyone in
The first step is to craft job ads that show your commitment to diversity and inclusion (D&I). Avoid using language that reinforces stereotypes and inadvertently excludes potential applicants. Instead, focus on using inclusive language that describes the skills, qualifications, and experiences needed for the role. By keeping job ads objective and welcoming, you’ll emphasise equal opportunity and open the door to a wider pool of talent that brings in diverse perspectives and abilities.
Curious where to start? Here are some things to look out for:
- Gender-coded words
These are words that subtly hint at gender stereotypes, like “sensitive” and “feel” for women, or “assertive” and “outspoken” for men. While these words absolutely can describe people of any gender identity, many people still associate them with specific genders. So, be mindful of the connotation certain words may carry when describing your ideal candidate.
- Job requirements
Studies show that women, historically, are less likely to apply for jobs if they don’t meet 100% of the requirements. To avoid missing out on talented individuals, specify which skills are must-haves and which are nice-to-have. Also, keep in mind that many things can be learned on the job. Ask yourself if you need to include skills they can learn in training. If the answer isn’t a definite yes… remove them.
- Racial and cultural bias
Pay close attention to what phrases you use – some may imply a preference for certain candidates based solely on their background. For example, don’t use the phrase “native English speaker”. It might discourage non-native English speakers from applying, even if their English skills are more than adequate. Also, don’t mention dress code or “clean-shaven” requirements. These can exclude candidates whose faith or culture require them to dress or maintain facial hair in a specific way. (Plus, it hints at a preference for male candidates.)
- Ageism and ableism
Lastly, consider how ageism and ableism might unintentionally creep in. Phrases like “digital native” and “young and energetic” are examples of ageist language that can make candidates over a certain age feel left out. And words like “fit” or “athletic” carry an ableist undertone that might discourage candidates with disabilities from applying.
When thinking about candidates with disabilities, specifically, make sure you clearly state what accommodations are currently in place. This includes flexible work hours, wheelchair-adapted office spaces, and remote work policies.
2. Make your website accessible
Your company’s website is often the first touchpoint for candidates, so it should be accessible to all users. Implement accessibility features like proper heading structure, alt-text for images, logical keyboard focus order, appropriate use of colour, and clear writing. By prioritising website accessibility, you create a more inclusive experience for candidates and demonstrate your commitment to accessibility as a core value of your organisation.
Want to learn more? Check out our Accessibility website for tips and helpful info.
3. Use blind screening methods
Unconscious bias is something that every company has to deal with during the hiring process. One way to minimise its impact is to use blind screening methods. These methods remove personal identifying details, such as a person’s name, gender, age, hobbies, and graduation year from their résumé. So many of the personal details we include on our résumés allude to gender identity, religion, race, and so on. That’s why recruitment systems today can be configured to strip these details automatically during the initial screening process, and then show that information when it’s needed. This creates a level playing field, ensuring fair evaluation of applicants based solely on their skills, qualifications, and potential rather than other, less relevant factors.
4. Set up a structured interview process
Unlike unstructured interviews that rely on informal and subjective questions, structured interviews use pre-planned, standardised questions for all candidates. Typically, these questions are behavioural or situational, allowing candidates to provide specific examples from their experience and demonstrate their skills in real-world scenarios. Using standardised questions and scoring criteria ensures that everyone is evaluated using the same parameters, guaranteeing consistency and fairness across the board.
Psychometric tests are also great tools to use. These tests measure a range of skills, like cognitive abilities, knowledge, and personality traits. They offer an objective way to measure candidates’ potential to excel in specific roles.
5. Include a diverse group of interviewers
When setting up interview panels, strive for a wide range of representation within each group. Groups that include people with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives help reduce bias and create a more inclusive evaluation process. This can look like:
- A balanced mix of women, men, and/or non-binary interviewers
- Interviewers with different ethnic and cultural backgrounds
- A blend of experience levels and age groups within the team
- Interviewers in leadership and non-leadership roles
- Interviewers that participate in various groups within the organisation
Remember, candidates evaluate your company during the interview process just as much as you evaluate them. Having a diverse group of interviewers sends a powerful message that your organisation values diversity and is committed to creating an inclusive work environment.
6. Provide D&I training for hiring managers
Hiring managers play a crucial role in the recruitment process. They review résumés, assemble interview panels, and participate in interviews. So, it’s important to provide them with specific D&I training to ensure alignment with your organisation’s vision and mission.
When planning D&I training, think about all the ways unconscious bias can pop up and how to combat it. We all bring our unique perceptions to the table, so our personal biases will affect our decision-making from time to time. What’s most important is that we acknowledge existing biases and work to minimise their impact.
Also, make sure hiring managers feel comfortable having hard conversations. We’ve seen a shift in work culture where employees and job seekers are delving deeper into a company’s support for mental health, D&I initiatives, community outreach, and more. Equip hiring managers with the resources they need to confidently answer those types of questions.
7. Communicate inclusion as a core pillar of your employer branding
The truth is, inclusion should be ingrained in every organisation’s brand. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. To demonstrate that your organisation’s actions match its words, make inclusion a core pillar of your employer branding. Bake it into the company culture. Highlight diversity initiatives, employee resource groups, and inclusion programmes. Put your value statement about inclusion on your website and communicate it regularly both to employees and to external audiences.
Make it an ongoing initiative so that everyone inside and outside the organisation knows that inclusion is a top priority. And, most importantly, adopt a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination, harassment, and bullying.
By making inclusion a core pillar of your employer branding, you’ll attract diverse talent who align with your values and are eager to contribute to your organisation’s success.