With businesses facing close scrutiny over the actions they take to improve diversity and inclusion (D&I), recruitment practices have an important part to play. How and whom organisations recruit and retain provides a direct and visible demonstration of how seriously the organisation takes D&I.
As revealed in XpertHR’s latest recruitment survey, 95% of UK organisations are taking action to boost D&I in their candidate attraction and selection processes. However, just 55% rate their hiring practices as effective or very effective in making a positive contribution to their D&I strategy.
While it’s encouraging that employers recognise the importance of D&I and are taking steps to ensure recruitment practices reflect these principles, our findings suggest that some of these actions are not as effective as they could be. It is important for employers to gauge which actions generate the best results and which might be improved.
Actions to boost D&I in recruitment
The most common action to boost D&I in recruitment among surveyed organisations (64%) was reviewing job descriptions to check for potential bias. It is advisable to sense-check all organisational communications – whether for internal or external audiences – to avoid any wording that might cause offence. Employees can play a key role here. For example, if the organisation has an Employee Resource Group, an effective way to ensure that job descriptions strike the right tone and use the right wording is to run the draft text past the network lead and group members. Their insight can prove invaluable in pinpointing potential bias in how the job description is worded, so that it can be removed or rephrased. An alternative approach would be to work with an outside consultant to review and amend job descriptions, flagging any potential bias to be addressed.
However, one notable finding of our research is that only one organisation in five (22.6%) talks to diverse communities when deciding on candidate-attraction methods. If more companies consulted and listened closely to members of staff and external contacts from diverse communities, they might see greater effectiveness in their efforts to ensure recruitment processes embody D&I principles.
What ‘effective’ companies are doing that ‘ineffective’ ones are not
The most effective actions to boost D&I in recruitment are not always the most widely used, our survey suggests. A comparison of the actions taken by organisations who rated their efforts on D&I in recruitment as effective with those who did not reveals some striking discrepancies.
Of the 55% that said their actions have been effective, almost two-thirds (62.7%) provide training to employees conducting job interviews to ensure they avoid asking questions which could be perceived as discriminatory. However, of the 45% that did not rate their efforts as effective, just two-fifths (41.1%) provide such training. This suggests that making sure interviewers use appropriate language when asking candidates questions can have a strong positive impact.
Another discrepancy is seen in ensuring recruitment tests are inclusively designed and practical for people to take. Twice as many organisations who rated themselves as effective take such action as those who did not (43.3% versus 21.4%).
By failing to ensure that recruitment tests are designed with inclusivity in mind, some organisations could be automatically locking out talent. People work in different ways, and recruitment materials should reflect this. Otherwise, candidates who may need a little extra support or who might benefit from a tweak to how the assignment is formatted could be at a disadvantage.
Small considerations such as this can bring a range of benefits. For example, they will not only help ensure that diversity and inclusion principles inform recruitment activities, they might also help level the playing field for candidates, make the organisation more accessible and more attractive to a wider range of potential applicants, and thereby increase the number of people in the talent pipeline.