There are many benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workplace, not least accelerating innovation by bringing new perspectives to the table, improving performance across multiple key aspects and fostering an environment where new ideas can thrive. Not only will you be bringing on a new team member with the potential to contribute much to your business, but your current employees will also benefit from working with people from different walks of life.
If you are taking a step back to review your hiring process and make it more inclusive, you may be wondering exactly what you can do. It can be the case that your job ads tend to attract more candidates of a specific demographic, and you are not sure why that is so. In this article, we share with you some top tips for creating an inclusive hiring checklist!
What Makes Up a Diverse Workplace?
When it comes to creating a diverse workplace, what first comes to mind would be a team of individuals that represent a spectrum of protected characteristics, such as national origin and disability. While that is definitely important, that’s not all there is to it. For a workplace to be truly diverse and inclusive, other less obvious characteristics have to be considered, such as personalities, working styles, skill sets and life experiences.
The Case for Workplace Diversity
Some individuals may have the perception that the strongest candidate is the one who gets hired, regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, or any other factors. Of course, you will want to ensure that’s the case as much as possible, but have you considered if your job ads are only attracting candidates of a certain demographic? Sure, there may be strong candidates worthy of consideration within that pool, but imagine if you cast your net wider – would you be able to attract similarly qualified or even better candidates?
Statistics have proven that there is much to be said about workplace diversity. Below are just some ways your business can benefit from better diversity & inclusion:
- Companies that focus on racial diversity are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors in the same industry when it comes to financial returns, calculated by the median
- A study of 1,700 companies found that businesses with a total diversity above average earned 19% more in innovation revenue
- Companies with gender-diverse executive teams are 21% more likely to outperform in areas of profitability
With all the benefits your business can stand to reap from a diverse workforce, there’s no reason to hold back.
You Cannot Have Diversity without Inclusion
For many businesses, having a diverse workplace represented by numerous nationalities, ethnicities, ages and sexual orientations is the ultimate goal. However, that can often be easier said than done, especially if you are not aware of the difference between diversity and inclusion. A diverse workplace is one that has team members from various walks of life across different roles and corporate ranks; the process it takes to reach this goal is what constitutes inclusion.
The point being, it’s not enough to simply wish for a diverse workplace; businesses have to take actionable steps to transform this goal into reality. There are many ways inclusion can be promoted within the workplace, and this includes right from the onset to after a new team member has joined the workplace. You will want to start from the hiring process to ensure that candidates with the right credentials and qualifications do not slip past your net just because of the demographic they belong to.
Read on to find out some tips to make your hiring process more inclusive!
Review Job Descriptions for Unintentional Biases
The very first step towards hiring a new team member is to write and publish a job description. You may not realize it, but job ads can contain sexist language or language that indicates a gender bias. It can be the case that a job ad was written with the picture of an ideal candidate in mind, and in some cases, for instance, this picture can be male.
It is easy to fall prey to this mistake, even without the intention of being discriminatory, especially if the industry you are in is male-dominated and the person writing the job description does not have many female examples to base their picture of the ideal candidate on. This may not necessarily be anyone’s fault, and you certainly don’t need to beat yourself up over it, but you can take steps to make job descriptions more open to a diverse range of candidates.
Before posting a job ad, take some time to review the job description and consider if anything about the language could be off putting to applicants of a particular demographic. You may wish to ask for the opinion of current team members who belong to said demographic. In addition, you may wish to emphasize that your organization values diversity somewhere in your ad.
Consider What Factors You Look for When Hiring
Of course, with every job, there are minimum requirements expected of the ideal candidate. This should always be based on merit, such as educational background, industry experience as well as any relevant achievements. While these factors may sound meritocratic on paper, you may find that in practice, that may not always the case.
There’s no denying that educational level and/or qualifications can be an important prerequisite of some jobs. While it may not be wrong to screen applicants based on these factors, always take a step back and consider if you are unintentionally rooting out applicants due to an implicit bias you hold. For instance, the prestige of a certain school or college can jump out at some recruiters, causing them to view that applicant in higher esteem although there are other applicants with similar experiences and achievements. If necessary, ask for a second opinion.
Cast Your Net Beyond the Typical Recruitment Agencies and Job Boards
Where do you typically post your job ads? Of course, the first and most obvious place to start would be job boards and recruitment agencies. However, in order to reach a wider pool of candidates, it’s important that you don’t just stop there. Think about where you can reach applicants who may not be on these boards.
Often, when people think about inclusion, it is with the intention of preventing sexism, racism, and homophobia in the workplace. While that is a necessary first step, take this one step further and think about other demographics who are similarly subject to discrimination but are not given as much consideration.
This could be older applicants who have returned to work after taking a break from employment for various reasons as well as applicants who may not have a perfectly clean record. With this in mind, you may wish to advertise your new opening with institutions for adult education and even rehabilitation centers.
Offer Internship Opportunities to Underrepresented Groups
Is your business looking for an intern you can train to take up significant roles in your industry in future? If so, you may be considering giving young adults from underrepresented groups a chance. These youths may have the same qualifications and skill sets as those from more privileged groups but find it hard to access the steppingstones they need to pave the way to more senior roles in the future.
Be Transparent About Your Company’s Diversity & Inclusion Statistics
Did you know that only a little more than half of all Fortune 500 companies disclose information about their diversity & inclusion data? For many candidates, one key factor when looking for a job is the diversity of the workplace, especially if they belong to a minority demographic themselves. When a company does not share their data publicly, this can lead to speculation as to whether their hiring policies and company culture are, in fact, discriminatory.
When you share your company’s diversity & inclusion data, including the policies you have put in place to ensure a more equal workplace, you can give prospective employees the confidence they need to embark on this next step. If nothing else, affirmation that your company is a place they would consider working at can encourage more prospective candidates to send in an application.
Think About Company Benefits and Reasonable Accommodations
It stands to reason that your company will extend certain benefits to your employees, whether it’s required by law or if you decide to go a step further. The employee benefits provided by a company can say more about its commitment to diversity and inclusion than you think. For instance, does your company provide parental leave? Are flexible hours possible for working parents if their child has a sick day?
In addition, think about the reasonable accommodations your company is able to offer employees with disabilities and medical needs. Can a lower desk be provided for a wheelchair-bound employee? Can employees with complex medical needs be put on a hybrid working arrangement, where they can work from home where necessary? To ensure a truly inclusive hiring process, you will want to consider how you can help any employee you choose to take on succeed, regardless of their individual needs which do not have a bearing on job performance.
Run A Referral Program Amongst Existing Employees
Chances are, you have some existing employees representing minority groups. One way to welcome new talent into your company while ensuring an inclusive hiring process is to start from within. Do your existing employees know of anyone who’s looking for employment in your industry and meet the minimum requirements for the job? By leveraging on your existing pool of diverse talent to recruit new candidates from various backgrounds, you can be sure that your employees are dedicated to the same values as your company.
Try Out Blind Recruitment
How does your business currently screen out applicants to move to the interview process, and who does it? Is a team involved with reviewing applicants, or is this the job of one individual? If you haven’t already, you may want to try out blind recruitment. Research has proven that candidates with identifiable “black names” have a lower probability of hearing back from jobs they have applied to than other candidates.
Of course, this doesn’t always mean that the company has a discriminatory policy; in many cases, implicit bias is responsible for this phenomenon. We all have implicit biases, and while it can be hard to completely detach from it in daily life, there are actionable steps that can be taken to remove this element from the recruitment process. One of them is blind recruitment.
With blind recruitment, the names, photos, ages, ethnicities and educational backgrounds of candidates are removed from their applications. All the employer can see is the experience and skill sets they can bring to the table, as well as any relevant achievements they have. This way, when you make a decision whether to bring a candidate’s application further, you can be absolutely sure discrimination has nothing to do with it.
Ensure that The Recruitment Committee and Interview Panel is Well Represented
Who decides whether a candidate should be shortlisted for interviewing, and from there, who makes the decision to move the candidate to the next round? More often than not, a HR team is responsible for screening out qualified applicants, and an interview panel consisting of higher-level executives will interview these candidates.
Ask yourself about the gender and racial makeup of each member on the interview panel, as this can affect a candidate’s performance when it comes time to speak. For instance, a female candidate can feel intimidated when interviewed by a panel that’s exclusively men. In such cases, poor performance during an interview may not accurately represent the candidate’s talents and abilities.