How to Improve Diversity in Recruitment

We explore what diversity for hiring really means and how to increase diversity in recruitment processes. Learn the best practices for hiring diversity here.

Building diverse teams and fostering an inclusive work environment is crucial to business success. From different perspectives and skills to higher employee satisfaction, diversity offers a number of business benefits, but how do you go about building diverse teams?

Encouraging diversity in the workplace all starts with your recruitment processes and hiring practices. We explore what hiring for diversity entails and how to increase diversity in recruitment for your business.

What’s in this article?

What is diversity in hiring?

Diversity in recruitment and candidate selection refers to the practice of screening and hiring job candidates in an unbiased way. Diverse hiring methods are based predominantly on the candidate's potential for the role, rather than their age, gender, race, sexual orientation, or any other personal characteristics.

The key goal of implementing diversity in hiring processes is to ultimately build teams that reflect the diversity in society, ensuring that your staff come from various backgrounds and bring different perspectives and experiences to your teams.

There are two different types of diversity to consider when it comes to hiring: inherent and acquired diversity. Inherent refers to demographic elements, such as age or race, and acquired refers to things like education, experience and skills. It is vital that businesses hire for both types of diversity to build the best performing teams.

What is a diversity hire?

When it comes to hiring for diversity, it is important that recruitment teams are particularly careful not to confuse themselves with diversity hiring and a ‘diversity hire’. A diversity hire refers to any candidate that is hired by a company specifically to meet a certain diversity quota. The candidate may feel as though they were hired because of their personal characteristics or demographic, as opposed to their skills and company fit.

A ‘diversity hire’ is typically a negative term as it demonstrates an act of tokenism. Organisations need to re-evaluate their practices to ensure they are doing more than just ticking a diversity box. Instead, it is imperative that companies are actually making diversity, equity and inclusion core values in their recruitment practices, and the company as a whole.

In fact, there are employment laws in the UK to ensure just that. The Equality Act provides protection to all employees against discrimination due to certain characteristics. Protected characteristics include gender, race, age, religion, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity, disability and marital status. However, The Equality Act also prohibits positive discrimination, which means ‘diversity hires’ and diversity quotas are not legal.

Why is diversity in hiring important?

There are countless benefits to incorporating diversity within your hiring practices - both ethical and for the success of your business. Getting diversity, equity and inclusion right at the hiring stage helps you lay the foundations for diverse and inclusive teams, which are both key to driving higher business performance.

The benefits of diversity in hiring include:

  • Happier teams - 81% of employees who work in an inclusive culture report feeling happier in their jobs, resulting in higher job satisfaction. The key to creating this inclusive culture in the first instance is hiring diversity.
  • Higher productivity - happier teams are 10% more productive than unhappy teams, so fostering an inclusive culture is crucial.
  • Greater innovation - employees from diverse teams are 83% more innovative, which comes from the blend of skills and experiences of employees from all different backgrounds.
  • Access to a larger talent pool - 76% of active job seekers say a diverse workforce is important to them in a company. So, if you want to tap into this extensive talent pool, your business will need to publicly showcase your diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

10 Top tips for hiring for diversity

Here are our ten top tips on how to increase diversity in business recruitment processes.

  1. Devise a recruitment diversity strategy
  2. Showcase your diversity, equity and inclusion culture
  3. Ensure your job adverts are accessible to all
  4. Implement new diversity, equity and inclusion policies
  5. Audit your gender pay gap
  6. Offer hiring diversity training
  7. Read CVs blindly
  8. Re-evaluate your interview processes
  9. Run internships for minority or targeted groups
  10. Partner with a recruitment agency that specialises in diversity

1. Devise a recruitment diversity strategy

In order to begin improving diversity in hiring, you will need a recruitment diversity strategy. It is best practice to document your recruitment strategy to help you stay on track and ensure all teams understand their responsibilities. It is also useful for helping you prioritise your recruitment initiatives in order of importance.

2. Showcase your diversity, equity and inclusion culture

If you want to attract diverse talent, you need to showcase your diversity and inclusion culture and values publicly. Diverse candidates will be looking to join a company that values diversity and practises inclusivity, and they won’t know this unless you show them.

Make your commitment to diversity the core messaging in your job ads, social media posts and any other external communications. This way, you’ll gain access to a wider talent pool and candidates who may choose your company over a competitor, purely because of your diversity initiatives.

3. Ensure your job adverts are accessible to all

You will need to take a look at your job ads to see whether they are appropriate for hiring diverse talent. Some things to consider are your use of inclusive language and unattainable entry requirements. For instance, if you are trying to target a certain demographic, you may use certain vocabulary, but if you want to appeal to all groups, it is best to use neutral language and commonly-used vocabulary.

Similarly, if you don’t want to deter certain candidates from applying to your roles, think carefully about the years of experience or qualifications you ask for. This could prevent younger candidates or those with different academic backgrounds from sending you their CVs.

4. Implement new diversity, equity and inclusion policies

Having a diverse workplace culture is important, but how do you make sure of this? Having concrete policies in place for diversity, equity and inclusion is crucial to making diverse employees feel valued and protected. This could include changing your leave policies for religious or cultural events, providing flexible working hours for parents, improving accessibility of your workplace to cater for disabilities, or providing mental health assistance.

We recommend asking your employees directly to find out what they need from you as a business, and how you can best cater for their requirements.

5. Audit your gender pay gap

If you’re looking to improve gender diversity within your organisation, you will need to audit your gender pay gap and share this publicly. It is important to be transparent in this area and pinpoint which initiatives you will implement to close the gap. It may also be useful to list your parental leave policies early in the recruitment process. By doing so, your job listings are more likely to appeal to female candidates, who account for over 15.7 million of the UK workforce.

6. Offer hiring diversity training

Training is important to ensure all your staff are on the same page when it comes to hiring for diversity. One of the most crucial parts of this training is unconscious bias, which is inherent to everyone. Providing this training will help your recruitment teams understand their own unconscious bias and prevent it.

If you are unable to provide this training internally, there are a number of resources available to you online, or you can bring in the experts to help you, such as The Diversity Trust.

7. Read CVs blindly

Removing personal details from CVs can help you reduce bias when screening job candidates. This includes information like the candidate’s name, date of birth, schools and location, as this could indicate their age, race or ethnicity. Even if unconscious, these details can contribute to bias amongst recruiters when hiring.

You could even take this one step further and employ AI technology to review CVs, by having it flag certain skills and experiences to create a shortlist.

8. Re-evaluate your interview processes

There is some debate as to whether blind interviews are a good idea since they do reduce bias; however, a blind interview can make it more difficult to find a suitable candidate for the role. You may need to know more about the candidate at such a late stage in the recruitment process.

Instead, it can be useful to have a panel of interviewers, rather than one person. This can help reduce bias and personal decisions. It is also advisable to carry out a strength-based interview that focuses on a candidate’s strengths and skills over any personal details. Similarly, we recommend standardising your interview process, such as using the same questions for each candidate or using a scorecard system to rank the candidates against the role.

9. Run internships for minority or targeted groups

Running internships for minority or targeted groups is a great way to encourage diverse groups to join your teams. These internships give students and young people from underprivileged backgrounds, or with other barriers to employment, the chance to transform their lives. By offering these internships, you can play a huge role in social change, giving them the opportunity to explore new professions, learn useful life and professional skills, and maybe even earn their place as a full-time employee in your business.

10. Partner with a recruitment agency that specialises in diversity

If you need extra support or do not know where to start, you could work with a recruitment agency or talent solutions partner that specialises in diversity recruitment.

At FDM, diversity, equity and inclusion are ingrained into every aspect of our organisation. We are a talent solutions partner that is committed to helping individuals from all backgrounds kickstart their professional careers in business and technology. We recruit and train consultants to help nurture their different talents, and place them in roles that will support their professional development. Equally, we support our partners' recruitment goals and provide them with the best talent from a diverse pool, which includes various educational backgrounds, ethnicity, social mobility, gender, sexual orientation, neurodiversity and more.

How to track diversity in recruitment

In order to truly understand how successful your business is at practising inclusivity in your recruitment and hiring diverse candidates, it is important to track and measure these processes and your intake demographics. By recording these figures, you will be able to identify areas for improvement and implement new initiatives accordingly. Metrics to consider include:

  • Hires from state schools
  • First-generation university student hires
  • Hires who identify as LGBTQIA+
  • Employee gender split
  • Percentage of women in senior roles
  • Number of different nationalities within your organisation
  • Ethnicity split within your teams

See here for more information on how to measure diversity, equity and inclusion in your organisation.

FDM has over three decades of experience helping businesses across sectors build successful teams aligned with their goals. Check out our consultant services to benefit from our diverse talent pipeline, or get in touch for more information.

About Consultancy Services Team

The Consultancy Services Team are a natural extension of our leading technical and business expertise, accumulated over 30 years of industry experience. We help our clients to identify problems, shape change and deliver the right solutions. Using blended teams, our Consultancy Services deliver collaborative solutions to a wide array of technology problems by providing leadership and subject matter expertise. Our main areas of expertise include Business Analysis, Business Intelligence, Project Management, Robotic Process Automation, Tech Ops, Agile software development, Quality Assurance and Financial Crime Prevention.

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