Inclusive hiring is now a case of business survival

6 min read | Harry Gooding | Article | People and culture Retention

Inclusive hiring

Disclaimer: Words matter – the language we use is constantly evolving and shapes the perception of our world. For the purpose of this article, I’ll be using the term ‘differently abled’ – and person-first language – when discussing persons with disabilities. While not everybody will agree with certain terms, by avoiding collective labels and negative language, we can better promote individualism in the workplace and beyond.

Improving inclusion in the workplace should be seen as more than just a moral and legal obligation, but an integral part of your organisation’s continued success – and it begins with the hiring process.

By following certain best practices, employers can create a more inclusive hiring culture that benefits their organisation’s performance, candidate experience, and employee retention.

  • Evaluate your job adverts to mitigate bias and create a fairer decision-making process.
  • Place a greater emphasis on core skills and potential, rather than just education and tenure.
  • Consider using digital tools – and potentially employee passports – to improve the candidate experience.

What inclusive recruitment means – and why it’s important

Inclusive hiring is the process of attracting, selecting, and retaining candidates from diverse backgrounds, identities, and experiences. The societal benefits of levelling the playing field can’t be ignored, but the business case alone is a compelling consideration:

  • In a tight hiring market, broadening your recruitment effort is an effective way of overcoming skills shortages and increasing time to hire.
  • There’s various research suggesting diverse teams outperform those less widely represented, bringing different perspectives and ideas to the table, and understanding equally diverse customers and stakeholders.
  • Inclusive hiring practices are an important way of improving your candidate experience and elevating your employee value proposition (EVP).

However, an inclusive hiring culture is not a one-off initiative; it’s an ongoing journey that requires careful planning, and implementation of the right tools.

Take a closer look – are you using biased language in your job ads?

Unconscious bias can be prevalent in modern recruiting. This becomes all too apparent when you examine the narrow language used in many job advertisements, or the unaccommodating nature of certain tests and interview processes.

CIPD research revealed that fewer than a fifth of employers make efforts to remove bias by testing the words of job adverts (18%) or checking tests are valid, reliable and objective (17%). Avoid joining these statistics by drafting job descriptions that use more inclusive language and less industry jargon (gender decoding tools can be a quick and effective way of identifying discouraging wording).

Moreover, consider removing degree requirements unless absolutely essential. In today’s world of work, there’s a strong argument that core skills and potential should be emphasised over qualifications and technical expertise.

Leverage recruitment tech – but beware of algorithm bias

A note regarding artificial intelligence (AI): the proliferation of AI tools has granted organisations even greater power when screening candidates at scale, but can potentially embed bias if left to their own devices. It’s therefore vital to validate any AI-led decision-making, ensuring the right level of human input and testing.

When used responsibly though, emerging technology can potentially offer key insights into your organisation’s diversity hiring efforts. There are various tools that grant greater visibility over your selection process, while identifying potential barriers for certain groups. For example, we use a system called Applied to support our Skills and Learning Academy application stages, allowing us to remove over 160 biases, increase transparency, and evaluate the diversity of our candidate cohorts. But as already mentioned, any and all AI used must be ethical and closely monitored to help remove bias – not embed it.

Consider employee passports

People with disabilities comprise over a fifth (21%) of working-age adults, yet are a too-often overlooked element of an organisation’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) strategy. And with a disability employment gap of 29%, it’s clear that there is a requirement for organisations to create more accessible entry points while also providing greater long-term support.

Many application processes offer reasonable adjustments for differently abled candidates, but these policies may not be fit for purpose when supporting people throughout their careers. Considering that anybody at any stage of their lives could be differently abled, it’s imperative that inclusive practices are able to evolve with the changing needs of your workforce – and an employee passport could be the supporting tool you need.

Also known as a ‘workplace adjustment passport’, an employee passport is a document that allows applicants and new starters (or simply all staff) to outline their individual requirements. This can be seen as an evolving framework, helping managers support individual needs and facilitate meaningful conversations – quite possibly revealing new considerations in the process.

Our ‘work with me passport’

To support an inclusive hiring process, enable open discussion, and help employees reach their full potential, we’ve introduced ‘work with me passports’ in some of our recent Skills and Learning recruitment campaigns. In time, we hope that our ‘work with me passport’ can become a blueprint for other organisations to adopt, empowering managers to support their staff with the exact support they need, when they need it.

If you're interested in unlocking undiscovered talent, and hearing how our academy programmes can benefit your organisation, email us at today.


About this author

Harry Gooding - Director, Hays Skills & Learning

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