Season 1: Finding and keeping great people

Jenny Garrett Author and Coach

Hiring for inclusivity

I love the quote by Verna Myers “diversity is being invited to the party and inclusion is being asked to dance”.

Whatever the size of your company you should be thinking of bringing diversity into your organisation and creating an inclusive environment where everyone can thrive. After all, there is no point investing the time and effort into hiring the best talent if the person doesn’t end up staying with you and you must start all over again. Plus, the research tells us that diverse organisations are more creative, flexible and bring in better financial returns.

Whether you are a small business owner or leading a large corporate, there is always something that you can do to make the hiring process more inclusive. Even if you don’t have the capacity and resources that a large corporate does to support huge recruitment drives, it’s always worth keeping an eye on government initiatives that support people into work, whether its young people not in education, employment, or training or those who have accessibility needs. In addition, even if you don’t hire full time permanent members of staff, if you hire interns, freelancers, or contractors, you can be considering their diversity and how you include them too.

Here are 3 questions that will help you explore your processes:

1. How do you invite them to the party?

The invite must reach them

If you are looking to recruit talent from diverse backgrounds, then you might need to spread your net a little wider. Have you sought out companies that do specific work to promote diverse talent, or publications and websites that have an audience of a wider demographic?

The invite must be legible

Many industries and organisations have jargon which does not make sense to those outside the sector. In addition, language can influence those whose apply, with a recent report finding that adverts using strong masculine language, (such as individual, challenging and driven) saw the number of female candidates applying for the role drop by up to 10 per cent.

The process for RSVP’s must be fair

Many organisations are dropping the need for degrees in favour of in-house tests and removing identifiers that could bias applications, such as name, age, schooling, gender, etc from the short-listing process, which means that those who may not have got to the interview process may do now. It doesn’t eliminate bias because they will still be seen at the interview.

2. How do you welcome them to the party?

Be a good host

Ask in advance what they need from you. Are there some adjustments that you can make to ensure that they have a good experience?

No unwelcome surprises

I am also a fan of sending the questions in advance; the process of asking candidates to think of responses in the moment is biased towards those who are great at rapid responses, thinking out loud, or simply have more experience of formal interview processes. Surprises are not necessary.

Ensure that there are others that they can connect with

Seeing a diverse panel that the candidate can identify with at interview can make people feel more welcome and benefit your organisations, as the more brains and perspectives deciding on the right candidate the better. This ensures you don’t have blind spots in your hiring process and helps to stop you recruiting in your own image.

3. Can they dance like no one is watching?

Onboarding matters

If the candidate is successful in the recruitment process the onboarding really matters too; personalise their experience, brief the team that is welcoming them, maybe arrange for a buddy or a series of one to ones, articulate and acknowledge the need for inclusion and what it means for you and your organisation, and let them know how they can provide feedback. Help them speak the company language and get up to speed quickly, so they can feel part of the conversation.

Psychological safety is key

Create psychology safety, where new recruits feel safe to speak up and share their thoughts and feelings without being fearful of negative consequences. You can do this by inviting feedback, promoting two-way dialogue, and showing what you value and appreciate about your colleagues. It’s only when psychological safety is in place that you can unlock the true potential of inclusive hiring, as the new recruit won’t be worrying about making mistakes or hiding who they are and can give their full energy to the role.

Learning the dance moves for inclusive hiring is essential for the growth and sustainability of your business. Keep putting one foot in front of another and you’ll get there.