How to make your recruitment processes more inclusive

How to make your recruitment processes more inclusive

Ensuring inclusivity within your recruitment process is invaluable. Not only does it widen your talent pools and help to fill vacancies more quickly, it also means that your company can benefit from different viewpoints, experiences, and approaches to problem solving.

There are many ways to open up your hiring process to more people, ranging from small adjustments to big systemic changes, and ensuring inclusivity is an ongoing process. Here are some recommendations for places to start:

Make use of digital processes

Digital hiring processes are developing quickly, and are providing benefits to both employers and candidates. In terms of inclusivity, offering video interviews, online applications, and digital ID verification options means that those who are less mobile, live further afield, or are unable to travel due to financial issues can access your business as a candidate.

Additionally, those with additional access needs including neurodiverse, autistic adults can feel more comfortable applying for positions.

ONS recently reported that autistic adults face the highest level of unemployment out of all disability groups, with just 21.7% in employment. The reasons for this are complex, including a lack of awareness and understanding of neurodiversity across the board and genuine fears of judgment and exclusion on the candidate side.

But with digital innovations, recruitment processes can be more inclusive to neurodivergent candidates, for example making use of virtual interviews. Virtual interviews allow candidates to control their environment: lighting can be managed, background noise can be minimised, and fidget toys can be used off camera to help candidates avoid sensory overload, give their genuine best at interview, and avoid any judgment from recruiters.

Ensure that a manual alternative is available for those without digital access

Recent estimates cite around 9 million people in the UK are unable to use the internet and mobile devices without support, which is the equivalent of 16% of UK adults. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that, while digital innovations are being integrated into your recruitment process, there is always alternative access for work seekers who are digitally excluded. Digital exclusion can be caused by:

  • Disability – technology is continually developing to enable people with additional physical or neurological needs to access digital platforms – however there is still progress to be made, and recent figures indicate that 19% of disabled adults are not regular internet users.
  • Financial hardship – the cost of accessing digital technology can present barriers. According to Good Things Foundation, 2 million households in the UK struggle to afford internet access, while access to mobile devices including phones, tablets and laptops poses further challenges.
  • Age – in general, older generations are less digitally literate than younger ones, and therefore can struggle to access digital technology.

Therefore, it’s important to ensure that if your recruitment process makes use of specific apps, or requires access to mobile technology, that non digital routes are also available, to ensure full inclusivity.

Offer alternative application methods

For some, a written application presents a far greater challenge than for others. Dyslexia, sight impairment, and other conditions that affect reading and writing might mean that potentially strong candidates are excluded by the format of your application process.

In some sectors, offering the option of candidates applying via an audio recording or a video means that candidates can choose the format that best demonstrates their suitability for the role, and allows them to present themselves in the way that is most comfortable.

Additionally, according to Sign Solutions, those with hearing impairments, or who identify as D/deaf, often find reading and writing a challenge, and therefore offering video applications where applicants can communicate via British Sign Language opens up your recruitment process to many more people. 

Question which qualifications are absolutely necessary

Inclusive hiring means being open to candidates reaching you via different pathways and experience.

Question exactly which qualifications are absolutely necessary, and which are indicators of a particular pathway. Candidates who have years of relevant experience but no formal qualifications may be deterred from applying for a position that stipulates a specific educational pathway.

Additionally, candidates from overseas may have different but equivalent educational backgrounds, therefore including alternative and non UK education and qualification criteria for necessary qualifications  in job descriptions can help to make applicants from diverse backgrounds more comfortable in applying.

Feature inclusivity within your employer branding

Just as important as the way the position is described, so is the way the company is presented. No one wants to work in a position where they feel unwelcome or unsupported because of their identity. Therefore, to ensure an inclusive recruitment process, it’s important to demonstrate that your business values diversity and inclusivity through your employer branding. This means being clear about your approach through images, wording, and messaging.

Use automation smartly

When there’s a high candidate to position ratio, AI technology can speed up the decision making process by analysing applications and video interviews to group candidates into highly recommended, recommended, and not recommended in a way that correlates well with the company’s own assessments. This has been shown to cut time to hire in half, reduce candidate dropout rates by 30%, and triple cost savings.

Through applicant tracking systems (ATS), recruiters are able to anonymise applications, removing candidate names, addresses and other identifying information that could lead to biases on the basis of gender, race or socio-economic background.

However, it’s also argued that an ATS can actually make recruitment less inclusive, for example, by using algorithms to search for key words, applicants may be automatically rejected for using different terminology than the recruiter would expect. This particularly affects those who speak English as a second language. As well as this, depending on how the ATS has been programmed, there is potential for older candidates who have O Levels instead of GCSEs to also be automatically rejected, which can be seen as a form of age discrimination.

How can Reed Screening help?

Whatever the make-up of your team, when hiring it’s important to ensure that risk is minimised through thorough screening. With over 60 years of experience in recruitment, and over 9 years’ experience as screening specialists, Reed Screening is ideally placed to advise your business on the best way to ensure that new hires are a boost to your company’s performance.