Inclusive hiring practices are in the spotlight as they have become increasingly vital to every organization’s success. Inclusive hiring translates to improved employee retention and productivity and a host of other organizational benefits. Reverend Jesse Jackson once said, “When everyone is included, everyone wins.” This is undoubtedly the case when it comes to inclusive hiring. What does inclusive hiring look like and what inclusive hiring practices can you implement to reap these rewards?
What is inclusive hiring?
The inclusive hiring process actively recognizes diversity and embraces a wide range of qualities and perspectives that candidates bring to the organization. It’s not simply about recruiting people from underrepresented backgrounds or with disabilites in an effort to tick off a box. Instead, inclusive hiring practices aim to level the playing field for all applicants in order to fight against recruitment bias and any form of discrimination.
There is a long history of preventing discrimination in the workplace, which includes many laws that protect individuals. Discrimination is illegal in workplaces because no one should be denied career opportunities based on their individual characteristics. The laws are there to outline the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees. Employers should become familiar with these laws to ensure fair hiring practices.
Inclusive hiring also involved being mindful of the unlimited types of diversity that exist in the human experience. It’s possible to focus just on the protected classifications and stay out of legal trouble, but employers need to go beyond that. Inclusive hiring decisions should be based on the job-related skills and qualities that every candidate possesses, some of which will fall outside of the “norm”. We tend to recruit people who are most like us or hire the same types of people — in other words, falling into a comfortable pattern. It’s an unconscious bias that does not belong in recruitment.
Why is inclusive hiring important?
From a business perspective, inclusive hiring practices provide many advantages. Not only is it the legal responsibility of the employer to consider every candidate equally, but it’s also the organization’s reputation at stake.
Inclusive hiring practices strengthen company reputations, which attracts talent in a competitive market. In fact, “[F]our in five (86%) candidates globally say diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace is important to them.” Research has shown that having diverse talent on board leads to higher levels of productivity, innovation, and performance. It also helps to improve employee retention rates, which further promotes the positive brand of the organization.
And there is more.
Inclusivity creates the foundation for a diverse and inclusive workforce that also mirrors the customer base. This supports the brand of the organization as one that cares about diversity and inclusion. Building a base for hiring diverse candidates is the first step towards building an inclusive work environment. This positively impacts the bottom line of your organization. Indeed, evidence shows businesses that have diverse workforces financially outperform the national average for their industry.
In terms of sustainability and growth, an inclusive hiring practice supports the future of any organization. Many companies turned to hiring from a global talent pool even before the pandemic, which helped to get ahead of the shortages in skill sets and knowledge. Nowadays, it is even more important to think globally when hiring, which requires having an organization that welcomes diverse candidates from every corner of the Earth.
Having an inclusive hiring process is the most ethical way to build a workforce. While it’s the right thing to do, it also helps companies to avoid adverse impact and disparate treatment claims. These can be damaging to any organization and very costly. According to 2020 data from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), there were 67,448 charges of workplace discrimination costing employers $439.2 million in lawsuits and settlements.
Inclusive hiring practices for your organization
The good news is that there are many things your organization can do to establish long-term inclusive hiring practices that benefit everyone. Here are 12 inclusive hiring steps to implement immediately.
1. Define what diversity and inclusion mean for your organization.
Remember that diversity can be based on different types of people and intersectionality within those types. Most often, gender and race are mentioned as defining diversity, but there are also generational, neurodiversity, ability, veteran status, and other factors to consider. For example, the experiences of a Black woman will differ from the experiences of a White woman even though they are of the same gender and may have held similar roles.
2. Write inclusive job descriptions.
How do you write an inclusive job description? Use inclusive language for hiring, which includes leaving out gender-based language and terms, as well as industry jargon. Start with a job title that leaves out any hint at gender or industry preference. Keep it simple and focus on the job at hand. Likewise, work on eliminating masculine and feminine words from the job posting. According to Textio, “using gender-neutral language fills jobs 14 days faster than posts with a masculine or feminine bias, and attracts a more diverse mix of people.”
For example, Zillow Group was able to attract 10-11% more applicants who identify as women than average by using certain words in their job postings.
Use short sentences and brief paragraphs. Instead of italics or underlying words, simply use a larger font and embolden words you want to highlight (for candidates who may have visual problems or dyslexia). Emphasize job responsibilities rather than requirements, including removing degree requirements where they are not essential.
3. Have a career website that is accessible to all candidates.
Make sure language is inclusive and clearly states your workplace efforts to provide diversity and inclusion for attracting the right candidates. Instead of stock photos that trivialize diversity, use authentic images of your team (with permission). It is equally important to use dyslexia-friendly fonts and utilize different types of content such as videos and downloadable information sheets.
Accessibility standards that you should implement include transcripts and close captions for video and audio files (like Accenture does), alternative texts for images, color contrast standards. When developing a career website, ask your website development team to adhere to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
4. Develop your EEOC statement.
While you are improving your career website, make sure you are stating that you comply with the EEOC guidelines for diversity and hiring for inclusiveness. Use this statement in all job advertisements; make it count. Here are some examples of great EEOC statements.
5. Expand where you advertise your job openings.
Remember that many candidates may be seeking employment using print ads, attending (virtual) job fairs and boot camps, conducting searches on social networks, or they may be accessing job ads on their mobile devices. With this in mind, try to use different places for seeking new employees; it opens up the chance of recruiting from a more diverse population.
Some of the job boards that can help you attract diverse talent are:
- National Association of Asian-American Professionals (NAAAP)
- Pink Jobs
6. Make inclusion a part of your employer brand.
Find ways to communicate your commitment to inclusion to different groups of applicants. Be honest if your organization is not yet where you want to be and let people know what your plans for supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion are.
Chipotle Mexican Grill is a restaurant chain headquartered in California. Inclusion is a key part of their employer branding. The company frequently shares how their employees with diverse background experience working there. These people represent more than two-thirds of Chipotle’s workforce. What’s more, over 70% of their general managers have been promoted to the role internally.
7. Provide employees with vertical and horizontal career opportunities.
Make sure that your employees are aware of internal growth opportunities and that you have an internal recruiting process in place. Track internal mobility data across different groups of employees. It will help you understand what the obstacles to career progression might be and come up with strategies to address that, such as mentorship or sponsorship programs.
Internal mobility is extremely important to your retention efforts. Notably, employees at organizations with high internal mobility stay nearly twice longer.
8. Use a standardized job interview process for all candidates.
Use an interview guide and prepare a script with questions specifically about the job. Create interview scorecards to assess candidates on job-relevant categories. Avoid asking about salary history (even if it’s legal where you are) because this information is not an indicator of a candidate’s abilities.
9. Establish diverse interview panels.
This effort can help your hiring team form a well-rounded view of each candidate and gauge different qualities. Having a diverse interview panel can reduce bias and help see candidates from different perspectives. No time for a formal panel? No problem – gather the best and brightest on your team and conduct a group interview.
Intel implemented a requirement for each interview panel to include at least two women and/or members of underrepresented groups. Within two years, they managed to grow the number of hires with diverse backgrounds by 41%.
In fact, 75% of the highest scoring organizations in Diversity Best Practices Inclusion Index require the panel of interviewers to be diverse.
10. Let recruitment technology help you.
The use of recruiting technology can support more diverse hiring. For example, implement an applicant tracking system like Greenhouse or Lever with built-in functionality to help reduce bias and assist you in making objective decisions. The features include grading take-home assignments anonymously, defining key decision criteria for a role in advance, or collecting and tracking demographic data.
You can also use a job description analysis tool to remove biased language from job ads.
11. Watch out for algorithm bias.
When implementing recruitment technology, especially candidate assessments, find out how the algorithm that the vendor offers works. How is the algorithm bias mitigated? Sometimes, the algorithm picks up subtle preferences of the administrator, therefore introducing human bias into the hiring process all over again.
12. Measure your inclusive hiring program.
How can you guarantee that having an inclusive hiring process will result in a more diverse workforce? The proof is in the human resource data that you can collect and track. As you implement your inclusive hiring practices, consider that it can take time to see results. Have a set of metrics to aspire to. For instance, measure the number of people from diverse backgrounds and how they are progressing through the hiring funnel.
Your applicant tracking system can help determine the characteristics of candidates that have been hired vs. those who have not. Monitor first-year hires to ensure they are progressing via the onboarding and training process. Check performance reports carefully for employee feedback on their experience with the inclusiveness of the organization. Also, watch for employees who have found it challenging to fit in with peers or are not being given the same opportunities as others. All of this goes for remote employees too, who need even more support to feel like they belong in the organization.
One great human resource metric you can focus on is employee retention rates per group, for instance, gender, ethnicity, or disability. It’s simple to calculate and monitor. If you have increased retention, more employees are choosing to stay on and work hard for your business. Correspondingly, loss of employees means they are finding it difficult to want to work for your business and are looking for a better experience. They have failed to find somewhere in your organization where they have a sense of belonging.
Another suggested way to rate your success with diversity and inclusion hiring is by testing job advertisements to see what types of candidates they attract.
The results of your inclusive hiring process go well beyond the job offer – it can impact your organization in many ways, good and bad. When you focus on building inclusiveness into the organization as a core value, it will come naturally to all departments, which in turn will provide the positive results.
Over to you
It is essential to review your hiring process and understand where you are potentially excluding people. Even if you don’t have the capacity to overhaul your whole hiring process at once, start with implementing small changes and work your way toward more inclusive hiring at your organization. Investing this time and making inclusivity a part of your culture is worth the effort.
If you want to learn more about diversity and inclusion and future-proof your HR skill set, check out our Diversity & Inclusion Certification Program!
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