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The ‘S’ (social) in ESG campaigns is integral to any business, a lack of diversity can negatively impact growth and stifle creativity. Diverse teams generate almost 20% more revenue than those that are lacking in this area.

Thinking carefully about the specific language used in job adverts, using blind CV assessments, and employing inclusive interviewing techniques can all help businesses embed diversity and inclusion into their recruitment policies.

With almost one-third of jobseekers and employees have said they would not apply to a company where there is a lack of diversity among its workforce, it’s time that businesses start to scrutinize their recruitment policies.

Think about the job advert

Pay attention to the nuances in recruitment communication to ensure what is written is inclusive and unbiased.

Job adverts should avoid phrases such as “competitive nature” and “aggressively determined” in favor of truthful descriptions of competency, these phrases are also typically ‘male-coded’, so might deter female applicants from applying. Similarly, complex jargon and specialist terms can also overwhelm applicants. Adverts should be as simple and to the point as possible.

The use of equality and diversity statements in job adverts can aid in creating an inclusive atmosphere from the very start of the recruitment process. One study found that job adverts with an empathetic diversity statement left 71% of potential applicants with a positive impression of the hypothetical employer.

Similarly, awards such as ‘The Times Top 50 Employers of Women’ can be mentioned on job applicants to reassure minority applicants that they are welcome to apply.

Blind CV assessment

The Department for Work and Pensions sent out applications to 1,000 job vacancies with 2/3 containing names typically associated with a certain ethnic group. Results showed that ethnic minority applicants needed to send out 74% more applications in order to generate the same success rate as those with White sounding names.

Removing names, ages, genders, and postcodes from CVs before they are assessed can remove opportunities for bias to enter the recruitment process. A number of top employers adopt this technique, including the UK’s Civil Service.

Championing diversity and inclusion is not just about CV blind initiatives. It’s a complex and multifaceted agenda.

Keeping an eye out for opportunities to learn more about diverse talent pools should be a priority. At Totum Partners, we host a series of successful diversity and inclusion webinars, such as: ‘How to create the most diverse firm in Britain’.

Inclusive interviewing

Once a candidate is at an interview, the best way to minimize bias is to combine a number of efforts, there is no magic bullet approach.

Standardizing the interview questions in a structured manner will allow the employer to focus on the candidate’s skills that will determine their ability to perform the job. Unstructured interviews are difficult to compare, making it more likely that personal factors will infiltrate the hiring decision.

Sometimes called a “mental shortcut”, affinity bias is common. This means we gravitate towards people who we feel are similar to ourselves. Training modules and workshops are a good way to generate self-awareness of your own biases.

The importance of succession planning

Employees should be able to see diversity all the way up an organization. Last month it was reported that 2 in 5 Black employees have left their job because of a lack of diversity.

Initiatives that only focus on entry-level recruitment leave BME employees without anyone to look up to. Since 2018, among the Fortune 500 boards, of the 974 seats filled by new directors, 80% were by White directors, this is an example of bad succession planning.

Organizations should consider lateral workplace diversity when looking at how to progress talent internally. Firms that ignore this form of conscious inclusion, will soon be left behind, especially considering the escalating numbers of employees quitting their jobs in the UK in recent months.

Accountability

Having awareness of the benefits that diversity brings to the workplace is important, but actions speak louder than words.

As a recruitment firm, Totum is committed to questioning candidate lists that show a lack of diversity. Feedback on a BME candidate that reads “something was not quite right” needs to be followed up for factual feedback. Too often this behavior goes unquestioned.

This is embedded into the Race Fairness Commitment that Totum is a part of. The Commitment pledges all members to engage in activities to ensure equal access to opportunities for all candidates.

Calls for diversity and inclusion will grow louder in 2022. Deloitte’s 2018 Millennial Survey demonstrated that diversity is integral to workplace loyalty, with candidates saying they are more likely to stay with an employer for over 5 years if there is diversity in the workplace.

Employers must be aware of how to entrench diversity and inclusion into their recruitment policies, or both their business and colleagues will suffer. CV blind assessments, inclusive interviewing, and succession planning should be a staple in any recruitment process in 2022 if businesses want to take this agenda seriously.

By Deborah Gray, Director at Totum Partners.

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