Inclusion is a word thrown around somewhat aimlessly in the world of HR, often confused with terms like diversity and belonging. However, when approached properly and understood for what it actually is, inclusivity is a practice that can be baked into every process your business has and every decision you make. The truth is, nobody has perfected the inclusive hiring process yet. The goalposts are continuously moving as we learn more about what different people need and want from the experience.
However, it’s about getting the details, big and small, right to begin with – at all levels. To do this, you’ll need to consider who you’re actually trying to attract and who your business is missing. From there, you can identify who you’re looking to hire and how.
We invest a large amount of time and energy into making our hiring practices more inclusive at Juro. If you’re looking for some inspiration or you’re just keen to visualize what inclusive hiring looks like in practice, read on to discover how we seek to create fairness in the hiring process and welcome all kinds of groups to work with us.
Understanding The Terminology
Before you start to implement a more inclusive hiring process, you should understand what inclusivity actually means. The word is often used interchangeably with diversity and belonging when in reality they are different concepts entirely. At Juro, we like to follow Pat Wador’s dichotomy:
Diversity is all of the aspects that make us unique, and there’s no such thing as a ‘diverse’ hire. Any group of people can be diverse, and what diversity looks like often depends on the context being applied. However, the benefits of a diverse workforce are well studied. Ultimately, if you’re hiring for diversity, you’re looking to hire a set of people that can accurately represent the population, and this can vary depending on your specific criteria.
Inclusion, by comparison, goes one level deeper. It’s all about creating fairness, providing equal opportunities, and making provisions that enable all kinds of groups to succeed. As many people describe it, diversity is inviting someone to the party, but inclusion is asking them to dance. It’s all about ensuring that the hiring experience for all candidates is roughly the same, taking into account any challenges they face and issues that concern them.
Belonging is what comes next, and it’s usually a factor in whether an employee will remain at your company or not. When employees are made to feel like they belong, they feel like they can bring their full selves to work. According to research, we belong at work when we are seen for our unique contributions, connected with our colleagues, and feel supported with the values and purpose of the organization we work for.
Building this will ensure that not only is your hiring process inclusive, but you can also retain your employees, too.
How to Craft a More Inclusive Hiring Process
1. Choose your axes.
Who do you actually want to join your company? Who isn’t yet represented there, but ought to be? Having answers to these questions means knowing which axis or type of diversity you’re looking to target in your next hiring cycle.
One common mistake businesses make when trying to make their hiring process more inclusive is spreading themselves too thin and trying to focus on too many axes at any one time. This can dilute the processes you have in place and make them less inclusive, rather than more.
No matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to focus on every axis at the same time, so you’ll need to decide which to make your main focus. If you feel that certain groups are particularly underrepresented in the workplace, identify your priorities and build a process that works from there.
2. Know where to look.
If you continue to look in the same generic channels for talent, you’ll likely find yourself with a lot of similar candidates. If you’re seeking to invite a more diverse pool of individuals into the hiring process, you’ll need to think outside the box to find them.
Ask yourself, where do the kind of people you want to recruit hang out? If you’re looking for women in sales, what communities do they spend their time in? If you’re looking to source candidates with a legal background for a contract management role, where will you find them? Are there any agencies that have a particularly strong record working with certain types of candidates? Are there any events with a specific target audience you could source potential candidates from?
The chances are, if you’re looking for a specific type of person for a role, you’re unlikely to find them already looking on your careers page for a job. You should focus on identifying your champions and audiences and reach out to them from there.
3. Job specification language.
It’s important to be mindful of the language you use and what you include when drafting your job descriptions, as loaded phrases can discourage certain groups from applying for a role.
For instance, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of using masculine words and phrases within the intention to. Words like ‘hacker’, ‘rockstar’, and ‘superhero’ are often loaded with masculine connotations and this can deter women from applying for a role because they don’t identify with the description provided.
Similarly, research has revealed that women are less likely to brag about their accomplishments, meaning that superlatives like ‘expert’ and ‘superior’ can put women off from applying to roles they’d otherwise be perfect for.
When creating your job description, either try to neutralize the language and structure used, or tailor it to the kind of people you’re trying to attract. For example, if you’re looking to employ more women into certain positions, use language like ‘grow’ and ‘nurture’ as opposed to ‘take charge’.
4. Make salary clear.
Another way to make the hiring process more inclusive in the early stages is to include the information that matters, such as salary. There’s the age-old debate of whether it’s fair to exclude this information in job postings, for a variety of reasons.
However, if you want to hire inclusively, then salary should be clearly discussed in your job description. According to CharityJob, the number of applications for roles doubles when the salary is published, and this means that a wider pool of applicants will have applied for these roles.
Not only that, but salary transparency is a particularly important way of communicating to under-represented candidates that they will be paid fairly and given the same financial benefits as their peers.
Deliberately withholding this information from candidates can quickly create a lack of trust and a culture of secrecy, which doesn’t provide underrepresented candidates with the assurance that they’ll be valued fairly if they were to join the organization.
Transparency doesn’t just mean being clear about what you pay, though. It means being clear about what you’re like as a company, what your inclusive practices are, and how you ensure your employees belong.
This is valuable if you’re seeking to include a more diverse group of candidates in your hiring process, as underrepresented groups often do a lot more research on a company before applying for roles with them, usually to see where the company stands on certain issues, what their inclusivity practices look like and how they cater to people like them.
At Juro, we do everything we can to give this information to candidates without them having to search too hard, and we want to give it to them early on in the process, not just once they’ve received their offer letter.
Instead, we make our employee handbook publicly available, and this details everything from our progressive parenting policies to how we support individuals to practice their faith and spirituality, and what resources or benefits are available to different groups.
Doing this can be a challenge for many talent teams, as it requires identifying your own blind spots and looking at the employee experience from all lenses. However, as soon as you acknowledge that total inclusivity can’t be achieved overnight and that it’s a work in progress, you’ll be able to build upon your inclusive practices and be proud to share as much of this information publicly as possible.
6. Keep the process straightforward.
Since the hiring process is perceived by most talent functions as an opportunity to put candidates through their paces, many hiring teams intentionally make the process challenging, hoping that the weaker candidates will drop out at the earlier stages.
However, this neglects the fact that underrepresented groups will likely already have a lot of barriers to face during the application process – even before talent teams decide to add to this pressure.
Whether it’s due to a lack of guidance, experience or confidence, the application process naturally favors a certain type of candidate, and exerting additional pressure can hinder a perfectly good candidate’s chances of success.
When setting tasks and forms to complete as part of the application process, keep the work manageable and be sure not to overwhelm the candidate. As much as you want to see what they can do, they want to see how considerate you are of their time and existing obligations, so make that obvious by giving fairly flexible deadlines, reasonable workloads, and tasks directed at the right level.
7. Interview inclusively.
Your inclusive practices should continue beyond a job description and an application form. If you’re committed to inclusivity as a company, then you ought to be able to reflect this at the interview stage, too. There are a few ways you can do this.
Firstly, try to ensure that interviewers represent the diversity you want to reflect within your company. This provides candidates with a better snapshot of the representation in your organization, and it will improve the candidate experience by offering the insight of individuals with different perspectives.
You could also invite candidates to be their full selves and make them as comfortable as possible from the second the interview begins. For instance, you could add a series of signifiers into the process, like stating your pronouns when introducing yourself or allowing candidates not to share their video if they’re concerned about bias.
Another tip is to re-define what success looks like, and share this with candidates to reassure them that the decisions made are free from cognitive bias. Before you head into the interview, determine which skills, questions, and tasks are a priority and have a clear outline of what resembles a good answer. This allows you to eliminate even subconscious bias from your decisions and responses.
8. Respect their existing commitments.
Finally, when deciding when an interview should take place or a task should be due, be considerate of the other obligations a candidate may have. Someone that’s a young parent or working a full-time, demanding job likely won’t have the same time and flexibility as someone with fewer commitments. Neglecting this is a common mistake made by hiring managers at the interview stage.
This is a reflection of their situation, and should never be regarded as an indication of their commitment to the role. If it is, you’re isolating a group of society that could be very good at the job, but simply aren’t given an equal opportunity to showcase this.
Instead, opt to be the flexible one and offer availability for interviews that suit all candidates, rather than just the select few. This can mean providing access to your calendar to book a time that suits them rather than suggesting a specific time and making your flexibility known, and demonstrating your willingness to accommodate them.
What do inclusive hiring processes look like? Well, inclusive hiring processes deliver a fair and welcoming environment for candidates, irrespective of their differences. It’s not feasible to make the process perfectly inclusive for everyone. What will be inclusive to one candidate might not be inclusive to another. However, that doesn’t mean you need to throw the towel in altogether.
It’s important to focus on delivering inclusivity to just one or two axes at a time and doing it well. Once you’ve decided what your team is missing, you need to understand what these kinds of people want from your hiring process, and what you’re lacking.
From here, you can begin to implement a series of small yet conscious efforts to be more inclusive and inviting during the hiring process, and hopefully, the results will reflect this. Whether it’s the way you write your job adverts or how you respect a candidates’ time, creating a more inclusive hiring process means providing equal opportunity to all candidates, and empowering them to succeed.