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How to implement inclusive recruitment practices in your organisation

Why is inclusive recruitment important?

In the age of digitalisation and globalisation, the need to hire diverse talent through inclusive recruitment practices is vital. However, building an inclusive culture to attract diverse candidates and, more importantly, retain them, is increasingly competitive. 

Implementing an inclusive recruitment practice isn’t just about attracting and hiring diverse talent. It’s about empowering employees from underrepresented groups to think outside the box, share their experiences and unique perspectives, and help drive innovation, engagement, and company evolution. It does this by freeing organisations from their groupthink mindset by encouraging new ideas that lead to innovative solutions. 

The benefits and barriers to inclusive recruitment

Inclusive recruitment doesn’t just benefit candidates or organisations. By minimising barriers and creating an inclusive and welcoming organisation – regardless of people’s identity or background – you create an attractive environment for a whole range of talent. This also makes the lives of hiring managers, recruitment teams, and communication teams easier in the long run.  

However, there are barriers to implementing inclusive recruitment practices, such as: 

  1. Unconscious bias
  2. Information accessibility
  3. Inclusive communication
  4. Company diversity and inclusion

Thankfully, there are ways to overcome these obstacles and realign your organisation for greater success. 

1. Adopt a blind recruitment process

Unconscious bias is an unfortunate but prevalent issue in society. It’s born out of people’s unique experiences and bolstered by harmful stereotypes. When it comes to recruitment, our unconscious bias is a harmful barrier to a fair process

For example, confirmation bias is when our opinions are solidified because we rarely hear opposing views or ignore them when we do. Similarly, affinity bias is when we’re drawn to people we have something in common with. This makes us more likely to hire them, regardless of their suitability for the role.

To avoid this issue, there are several things you can do to limit the impact of your unconscious bias. 

  • Remove any personal identifying details from job applications and CVs, such as age or location.
  • Implement a no-photo policy so biases due to beauty, race or gender are eradicated. 
  • Consider removing the name on CVs during the application process. The University of Oxford discovered how people who didn’t have the name of a white person or a British origin had to submit 60% more applications to get a positive response from an employer. 
  • Removing gender allows each applicant to be appraised on their skill, not gender biases.
  • Take out the names of educational institutions to avoid the ‘personal connection’ bias employers might have to certain places of study.

Blind recruitment is only effective at the initial stages of recruitment. However, it does at least ensure the shortlisted candidates have been assessed fairly and without judgement. The next step is how to eradicate biases when people meet in real life.

2. Train your staff on how to tackle their unconscious biases

Additional biases are formed when we meet people in real life. To help minimise this impact, unconscious bias training helps people overcome them by reviewing how decisions are made. Why not hire a specialist recruitment agency like EqualEngineers to offer expert training support when it comes to tackling unconscious biases in your organisation?

In terms of the actual interviews, consider how a diverse team of recruiters or recruitment agency can aid inclusive recruitment processes and suggest improvements for long-term change. For example, different experiences and understanding can be applied, and different thought processes and biases can be explored. If you only use a recruitment team or agency made up of people with similar experiences and perspectives, you run the risk of group biases hindering a fair hiring process.

Alongside a diverse recruitment team, consider standardising your interview questions. Having a list of questions with relevant follow-ups reduces the risk of affinity bias creeping in due to rapport with one candidate over another. Of course, personability and company fit are important. However, this should come through organically and be available to everyone who’s interviewed. 

Finally, implement the ‘Rooney Rule,’ which requires teams to interview at least one candidate from an underrepresented background for every open position.

3. Offer virtual interviews and remote working opportunities

The aforementioned digitalisation and globalisation phenomena offer employers the opportunity to widen the net when attracting talent. Local recruitment limits potentially ideal candidates from applying because of where they live. However, opening the candidate pool through virtual interviews and online working opportunities helps increase the talent pool and attract more diversity.

The Coronavirus pandemic proved that productivity isn’t affected by home-working. As a result, an increasing number of companies are adopting home-working practices. Consider extending this to interviews and initially completing them over apps like Zoom (where possible). Then, if a candidate is successful and a face-to-face interview is desired, offer to cover their travel expenses when inviting them into the office. This shows you’re serious about their role and value their time.

Another way to find talent is to hire them from a wide range of universities, which also improves the diversity of the talent pool. Public perception often results in some institutions being ignored. However, this is a disserve to the talent unable to shine purely because of their socio-economic status. Some ways to combat this include:

  • Running careers events and advertising online
  • Targeting recruitment at events themed at specific diversity strands
  • Attending events further away than local areas
  • Advertising in media for underrepresented groups

Adopting a diversity outreach strategy for a target demographic is important, and when it comes to universities, an on-compass presence, as opposed to a digital one, results in more candidates applying. Consider hiring a recruitment consultancy to help run these fairs so they attract the right talent. 

4. Highlight your company’s diversity and inclusion successes

Regardless of how inclusive your recruitment process is, attracting and nurturing diverse candidates comes down to how good your D&I practices are. To help candidates feel comfortable and welcome, share your D&I successes and be transparent about areas of improvement.

You can do this by:

  • Publishing a D&I statement and corresponding strategy on your website
  • Including D&I in your policies and procedures
  • Carry out internal assessments, monitor workforce changes, and measure areas of success
  • Highlight change using data collection tools and reporting systems with optional diversity questions to track the candidates applying to work for your organisation
  • Assess existing workforce data to uncover areas of improvement

Ultimately, senior leaders need to recognise challenges, set bold targets, and be strong when it comes to making changes. They need to be comfortable being held accountable for problems that exist and take steps to implement change. By leading an organisation that faces up to the difficulties that arise when creating and maintaining a diverse organisation, managers can reap the benefits of an innovative and transparent workforce.

Are you looking to implement an inclusive recruitment strategy? Get in touch for expert guidance on leading your organisation into a more welcoming and diverse future.

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