Inclusive culture is key
Inclusive recruitment isn’t a side project, but a core part of an organisation’s culture. This culture values diverse perspectives and experiences, and emphasises that focussing on people is essential to achieving organisational goals.
Unlearning and relearning
Organisations need to challenge the dominant culture and biases that have historically shaped recruitment practices. This involves unlearning old norms, being honest about existing attitudes, and redefining what a good candidate experience looks like.
Practical steps for inclusive hiring
To implement inclusive hiring, organisations should approach recruitment like a marketing campaign, provide clear and accessible information about roles, advertise in diverse channels, offer flexibility in job roles, and be transparent about salaries. Equally important is to build a shared understanding of the role and the company’s values among potential candidates.
We hosted a lunch and learn event themed on inclusive recruitment as a follow-up to the topic coming up a lot with clients and contacts. The event was a space to learn and share together, and we had a fantastic panel with a mix of senior leadership, practitioner, inclusion and recruitment experts and a candidate’s perspective.
Elvira Morrison, Director of Fundraising and Communications at Maudsley Charity, where she has spearheaded inclusive recruitment across several roles
Tessa Cooper, Co-Founder of Collaborative Future and an inclusive recruitment expert who advises organisations on how to embed excellent practice
Rania Nur, Product Manager at William Joseph, who offered a candidate’s perspective
Chair: Yasmin Georgiou, Strategy Lead at William Joseph
Approach recruitment holistically and authentically as part of an inclusive culture
“We started thinking about inclusive recruitment but it’s actually about your whole culture – it forces you in a positive way to look at your colleagues’ journey in their life at your organisation.” — Elvi Morrison
Right at the start of the session, the panel challenged all of us to consider how inclusive hiring processes are a part of an organisation’s culture and centring their people.
Elvi talked about how you can’t achieve your organisation’s goals without good people, emphasising the commercial importance of finding the right people and that recruitment should not be a side project.
“Inclusion is not just about saying: ’have we got representation from different demographics?’, but rather: ‘can people bring their unique perspectives?’” — Tessa Cooper
Diverse teams bring a whole new set of perspectives and experiences to organisations. Inclusive recruitment should not be a box-ticking exercise, it should be a purposeful decision that an organisation makes to be more equitable.
Unlearning approaches and biases, as individuals and organisations
“There is a dominant culture within the professional world of what good looks like…everyone is trying to become a cardboard cutout of that person.” — Tessa Cooper
The audience asked the panel how to unpick some of the age-old recruitment practices and create a more holistic, inclusive culture. Tessa talked through how there is a dominant culture within the professional world, which is so multi-layered that organisations are not challenging their own thinking, biases or practices. This results in them not reaching new or diverse audiences - and instead creating teams of people that look, act and think like them.
We talked about organisations needing to unpack their own attitudes and be honest about how they’ve allowed the dominant culture to narrow their own thinking.
“People are used to having to jump through hoops for job applications – inclusive recruitment is about turning this around” — Rania Nur
Rania reflected on traditional hiring practices being designed to ‘catch people out’ and the power dynamics being constructed to feel like a test. The inclusive process that she was a part of enabled space for her to give her best and she advocates for creating more equitable processes where candidates and employers can collectively explore if this role is the right fit, if the rapport is there and what the opportunities in the role are.
Practical advice on starting your inclusive recruitment journey
what you’re looking for
what the role consists of
what your organisation can offer people
what the expectation is
Create shared understanding of all of the above using accessible language and information in job packs.
10 inclusive hiring tips
Approach recruitment like a marketing campaign: don’t rely on your HR manager, but instead work collaboratively and consider the audience, key messages and channels early on. This also includes evaluating your marketing afterwards and how you filled the role.
Rethink traditional JD structures: workshop your JDs with people who you’d like to attract/
Always show salaries: candidates expect and need this and lack of transparency is a ‘red flag’/
Demonstrate any job flexibility: for example for part time roles – ‘up to x hours per week’.
Advertise in places where your ideal candidates are: make your roles more accessible beyond usual channels to enable the most amount of people to see your role and bring their experience to your organisation. Think about your target audience e.g diversity was key for Maudsley Charity and so they placed ads in The Voice and The Gleaner.
Ask if candidates want to see interview questions: for some people seeing the questions is important and for others, it may incite more anxiety. Be mindful of this and give people the choice.
Provide opportunities for candidates to learn about the role: for example, an ‘ask us anything’ webinar, which can include topics such as ‘what’s the worst day at work like?’.
Use your networks: communities introduce people to other communities and so use your networks to shape and share job opportunities.
Be clear about your values: share your values and find people who will expand and grow with you.
Rolling recruitment: consider accepting speculative applications from people who are inspired to join your organisation.
Be the change
We all agreed that making things accessible creates a better experience for everyone, and so we need to collectively work to change traditional hiring practices to create more inclusive, diverse and high-performing teams.
At the end of the session Elvi tasked the audience to ‘be the change’; to go back to their organisations and start conversations to evolve recruitment processes. After going through the journey at the Maudsley Charity, she now reflects that “it’s easy now” because this is the new norm – although getting to this point required time, energy and learning, they’re in a much stronger position and are excited to be building a diverse team.