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Recruiting for inclusivity: what your business can do

June 2021

Is your business doing all it can to promote diversity? If so, it's definitely in the minority, but that doesn't necessarily mean the others aren't taking it seriously - it may simply be that they don't know where to start, as Charlotte Murphy explains

Recent research performed by Talent Insight Group has found that although 92% of participating organisations said that diversity and inclusion was a focus for their business, only 16% highly rated their initiatives.1 From this, it seems that companies generally want to do better when it comes to inclusivity.

If your business is stuck in the same predicament, here are some concrete strategies that can be implemented to start recruiting for inclusivity.

Develop an inclusive brand

Your company can begin to build relationships with diverse groups by developing its brand using inclusive marketing.2 Make it known that your company values diversity and is willing to make changes to cultivate an inclusive environment.

Feel free to use mediums like social media to share your business's values widely, but make sure you have actions to back up your words. When you publicly stake a claim to principles of inclusion, you're liable to be held accountable, and your company should be prepared for that.

If your company has made mistakes in the past when it comes to diversity and inclusion, it's best to own these errors and commit to change in order to rebuild trust amongst different communities.

Reach out to diverse candidates

If you want to target diverse groups, you may need to rethink where you promote your company and its job opportunities. Perform research and discover the best channels to use in order to reach a diverse candidate base. Posting on job boards that are recognised for diversity hiring means meeting people where they are rather than expecting them to come to you.

If you're only placing job advertisements in broadsheet newspapers, for example, you're automatically excluding beyond their readership demographic. Ideally, you should recruit across a broad spectrum of mediums to attract a wide range of candidates from all walks of life.

Hire recruitment firms that specialise in diversity

Some recruitment firms, like BAME Recruitment, focus on matching diverse candidates with job opportunities. When you work with them, you save time trying to cultivate brand new relationships in diverse communities. Instead, you're able to take advantage of the firm's pre-existing network and its expertise in inclusion-related issues.

One way to secure a diverse shortlist is to hire a recruitment firm that can headhunt within under-represented groups. If your company has struggled to connect with diverse candidates in the past, this is a possible solution.

Audit your job adverts

Make sure that your job adverts are as inclusive as possible by performing a thorough audit. The best person to perform this audit is someone well-versed in inclusivity issues, as they'll be able to identify language that implies unconscious bias or insensitivity. 

An obvious example is the use of gendered job titles such as 'salesman', which we shouldn't be seeing in 2021. However, changing the masculine pronouns in your job description to 'his/her' may not be as inclusive as you think.3 What about non-binary candidates? Diversity auditing is a job for an expert.

Offer specific opportunities to targeted groups

One way to show that your company takes diversity seriously is to offer specific opportunities for targeted groups. This might look like a paid internship place automatically allocated to candidates from under-represented demographics, for example.

It could also look like a mentorship scheme for diverse recruits which is focused on nurturing their long-term, high-level career within the organisation. This has been shown to increase retention.4 You might also consider a referral scheme that encourages diverse employees to bring new candidates to the company.

Make changes to the recruitment process

 Whether we realise it or not, we're often attracted to what we already know. This poses a problem for inclusive recruitment, as panels may choose to hire those with a background that closely resembles their own. One way to minimise the risk of diverse candidates being subjected to unconscious bias during the application process is to develop a diverse recruitment panel.

Many companies also use blind applications where all potentially identifying information is removed before they are assessed. Because the applications don't mention gender, age, or ethnicity, they're less likely to be excluded based on prejudice or stereotypes.

The next time your company has an open position, why not recruit as inclusively as possible? Given reports that Generation-Z and Millennial jobseekers look specifically for diversity indicators in prospective employers, this isn't an issue that businesses can afford to neglect - at least not if they want to keep attracting top graduate talent.5

The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of HECSU/Prospects


  1. Diversity and inclusion: what you need to know, Talent Insight group.
  2. 7 brands that got inclusive marketing right, HubSpot, 2019.
  3. How to attract diverse talent with inclusive job postings, Workology, 2020.
  4. 4 ways mentoring can empower your diversity and inclusion initiatives, ATD, 2020.
  5. For younger job seekers, diversity and inclusion in the workplace aren't a preference. They're a requirement, The Washington Post, 2021.

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