5 tips for recruiting inclusively

28th September 2023

Article written by Meg Shona Halpin-Webster, Graduate eLearning Content Writer at Marshall E-Learning Consultancy, a Ciphr company 

This week is National Inclusion Week, a time in which we encourage organisations to reflect on their inclusivity and identify areas for improvement. Inclusivity is essential across all areas of an organisation, including recruitment. There are many ways that organisations may be unknowingly exclusionary within their hiring practices and recruitment process. This is why we wanted to define inclusive recruitment and share our top tips for writing an inclusive job description and candidate specification for you to put into action when you’re next recruiting.

Marshalls is committed to providing organisations with the knowledge, tools and resources required to effectively foster an inclusive culture where all employees feel a strong sense of support, recognition and belonging. We recently launched a selection of diversity e-learning courses, including our Inclusive Recruitment microlearning module, to help organisations improve their equality, diversity and inclusion efforts.

What is inclusive recruitment?         

Inclusive recruitment is an approach that aims to source the strongest candidates for a role from the widest possible pool of applicants, using a process that is both fair and transparent. Inclusive recruitment is an important approach because helps organisations meet legal requirements and diversity targets while, also enabling them to tap into a larger talent pool with diverse perspectives and backgrounds.

Organisations that choose to ignore inclusive recruitment practices run the risk of losing touch with the needs and wants of their diverse consumer base, whilst also closing themselves off to fresh perspectives that can inspire increased productivity and innovation. If organisations choose to recruit more inclusively, broadening their reach to include different identities, cultures, backgrounds and ethnicities, they are more likely to engage with more clients effectively. This will improve overall performance and, most importantly, become a better place to work as employees feel able to be their authentic selves.

Ann Allcock, Marshall’s head of diversity, commented “Inclusive recruitment helps organisations to tackle the ‘diversity’ element of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). In other words it attracts and welcomes diverse talent into your organisation so that the demographic profile of your workforce is more reflective of a particular community or population.  Research has shown that ensuring fair practices and increasing thought and identity diversity will improve both your brand reputation and your bottom line.

Inclusive recruitment practices are a key aspect of any DEI strategy, but it’s important to remember that recruiting diverse talent is just the start – if new hires are faced with a non-inclusive, exclusionary culture on entry, and respond by moving on, your inclusive recruitment efforts risk being wasted.”

What is the current legislation around recruitment?

The core legislation relating to inclusive recruitment is the UK Equality Act. This act promotes equality, prohibits discrimination and ensures that employers cannot discriminate against any candidates based on the nine protected characteristics:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

This act guides organisations to be fair and non-discriminatory when recruiting and hiring new employees, providing equal opportunities, promoting diversity and preventing underrepresentation.

5 tips for writing an inclusive job description and ideal candidate specification

Writing a job description and an ideal candidate specification are integral to the recruitment process. It’s important that your inclusivity is evident across these two documents. Here are some tips to ensure this:

  1. Use gender-neutral language

The use of gender-neutral language, such as ‘they’ and ‘them’ rather than ‘he’ or ‘she’, is one of the many ways to attract a diverse range of applicants to your role, increasing your chances of finding the most suitable candidate. By avoiding the use of binary terms, such as ‘he’ and ‘she’, you are ensuring that your job description and candidate specifications are also trans inclusive. Consider using gender neutral titles across recruitment, such as replacing ‘chairman’ with ‘chairperson’.

When writing job descriptions and candidate specifications, it’s equally important to ensure that you avoid coded language. A highly regarded study by Duke found that employment advertisements often perpetuate traditional gender roles. The study determined that language such as ‘lead’, ‘driven’ and ‘determined’ are male-coded, while words ‘inclusive’, ‘responsive’ and ‘interpersonal’ are female-coded.

  1. Focus on essential qualifications

Job descriptions and person specifications should clearly define the qualifications and skills that are essential to the role. By focusing on these details, you avoid including unnecessary requirements that could be discriminatory and exclusive to certain applicant groups.

When hiring for a new role, do not use the number of years of experience that a candidate has as a measure of maturity as this could be discriminatory. A candidate that has a greater number of years of experience may not be the strongest candidate for the role.

By focusing solely on the essential qualifications and skills required, you can also avoid including unjustified physical requirements or other attributes that can be exclusive to disabled applicants or certain sexes.

  1. Highlight your organisation’s intent to be diverse and inclusive

You can use your job descriptions and candidate specifications to demonstrate your commitment to diversity and inclusivity. Mention any DEI initiatives that your organisation offers or ways your recruitment practices are designed to be as inclusive as possible. Even a short sentence about your organisation’s focus on DEI can encourage potential candidates to apply.

Through mentioning your emphasis on inclusivity and diversity, your recruitment documents help to highlight the welcoming, accepting and supportive nature of your organisation. For applicants keen to find a workplace where they will feel a strong sense of belonging, this can be encouraging and attract individuals from more diverse backgrounds.

  1. Offer flexibility

Flexible working has become an increasing priority for many over the last few years. Latest figures from the Equality and Human Rights Commission suggest that 63% of full-time employees are already working flexibly. So why is it important to offer flexibility to potential candidates (unless there are specific reasons as to why a particular role is not suited to flexible working)?

Flexibility can encourage individuals who have have different needs or responsibilities, such as the ability to work from home or work around school hours, to apply for the role.

  1. Seek diverse perspectives

Seek feedback from a diverse range of peers throughout the entire process of creating a job description or ideal candidate profile, from brainstorming, structuring and writing to reviewing the finished product. Different perspectives, insights and experiences are valuable when determining inclusivity, increasing your chances of finding the strongest candidate.

How Marshalls can help you to recruit inclusively

Here at Marshalls, we have developed a suite of diversity micro e-learning courses designed to provide learners with engaging and informative resources to improve organisational inclusivity – and this includes our new Inclusive Recruitment module. This course, available both off-the-shelf and customised, details the significance of inclusive recruitment whilst also providing key strategies and tips to improve your current recruitment processes, making them more accessible and inclusive.

This e-learning course is a valuable resource for organisations aiming to boost their recruitment practices and open their talent pool to a more diverse range of applicants. To find out more about this course, or our most popular diversity in the workplace eLearning course, please get in touch.

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