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How to attract a wider talent pool through an inclusive hiring approach

It’s widely accepted that diversity in hiring has real benefits, not just for Candidates but for businesses. With three in five senior business leaders reporting that the UK’s skills shortage increased last year, broadening the talent pools you access can help you to continue to find the right people. That said, a survey of over 450 Employers found that 45 per cent think their recruitment tools are ‘ineffective at helping a diverse range of Candidates find their company’. So, before you advertise your next role, take time to analyse your current approach.

Examine your job description

Language can be a powerful influencer, which can be a challenge when you’re trying to appeal to a diverse workforce. A study analysing the words used in millions of job adverts, found that the word ‘manage’ discourages women from applying – and that’s just one example. There are many tools available, which you can use to put your job description to the test, but as a general rule of thumb, try to avoid gender loaded words and unnecessary jargon. To make your advert approachable, focus on the role itself by explaining what potential Employees will be doing. Rather than including a long list of desirable skills, cut this down to the essentials, and prepare to be flexible in your requirements. Do you need someone with a degree from a Russell Group university or can you encourage someone who has taken a different path to reach the same goal to apply? Many descriptions now go one step further, explicitly stating that companies welcome Candidates from all backgrounds.

Make your process accessible

Have you considered that your website might be difficult to read for those who are blind, deaf or visually impaired? To adopt an inclusive hiring approach, it’s sometimes necessary to look at your processes through the eyes of those who need adjustments to help them compete on a level playing field. Considering alternative formats, such as large print, braille or audio may be an option. Or simply, allowing Candidates to submit information required in a different way, perhaps through a voice recording. Making ‘reasonable adjustments’ will not only put you on the right side of the law, it could make all the difference in finding a talented Candidate with exactly the right requirements. Whether you need to allow additional time to complete interview tasks for people with dyslexia or to adjust interview times for wheelchair users who struggle to travel during rush hour, make sure your hiring panel is aware of how they can cater for everyone’s individual needs.  

Test on skills alone

Although it’s natural for us to be drawn to people who share similar characteristics or experiences, unconscious bias can be a real challenge if you want to develop a truly inclusive hiring approach. To combat this, ACAS recommends educating yourself so that you’re aware of how you make choices, creating a procedure where you record evidence, including your reasoning for decisions, and even using blind CVs. The idea is that by removing information such as a person’s age, name and gender, you’re able to choose applicants based on their suitability alone. When it gets to the interview stage, competency interviews are a good way to test ability rather than relying on a ‘gut instinct’. Some companies are even going a step further to introduce gamification for Candidates. As all Candidates complete the same test, only those with the ability to excel will stand out from the competition.

Have a diverse hiring panel

If you’re looking to make changes to improve inclusivity, it’s important to embrace a collaborative approach. Hearing a range of different opinions will enable you to get a true picture of what hiring within your company looks like currently. To this end, you should also consider inviting others to proof-read job descriptions, screen applications and sit on the interview panel. Choosing a diverse hiring panel will demonstrate that you’re serious about inclusivity within your company, and if Candidates can see this, they’re more likely to feel welcome. However, this is just the start of the challenge. To truly embed an inclusive ethos within your business, you should train existing team members, creating a good workplace culture where people are understanding (and embrace) differences. Start with your hiring team and make sure they have a real understanding of the many advantages a diverse workforce can offer.

Over the last 20 years, we have grown as a business to become one of the leading independent Recruitment agencies in Oxfordshire, and in 2018 we opened our first London office, to service Clients and Candidates in the capital.  

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