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What we learnt at Inclusive Hiring

What we learnt at Inclusive Hiring

Surrounded by the greatest known thinkers, philosophers and poets at The British Library – what better place to discuss mighty topics like diversity and inclusion? Despite the venue, we were all shocked no one uttered ‘book covers’ …and not ‘judging’ by them – perhaps it was simply too cliche for our clever and insightful community of D&I folks. Speaking of whom, the line-up was too good to miss! We’ve captured some key insights from the event – no easy feat, there were many!

Opening address inclusive hiring

The charismatic Bill Boorman, Tru Event CEO, carried the inclusion torch with his inspirational and thought-provoking opening address on, ‘making recruitment better for everyone’ – simple but effective. Boorman said that when people apply for a job, they don’t want to feel that there was anything preventing them from giving their best performance: the best of themself. Bill asked the audience,

‘In an interview situation, what I’m asking you to do is think – what do I need to do in my process, or in your conduct, to make sure everyone gets a fair chance?’

From Boorman’s opening onwards the conversation travelled in many directions and dimensions, some of which we’ve detailed below.

The gender question

Diversity doesn’t have a linear definition. Instead, much like humanity at large, a diverse team is multifaceted and distinctly different in every way. The question arising in this bright new diverse world – how do we unify divergent teams? Or as Dr. J Harrison puts it, ‘how do we make diverse teams inclusive?’

Well, to start let’s begin by asking for your pronoun:

‘As a non-binary person, there is a long-running assumption that pronouns are all that we care about. For me, this assumption holds true, as pronouns are an important part of my identity. Leaving pronouns out says to me that you don’t have a diverse workforce. It tells me you don’t have an inclusive mindset in your teams.’

Inclusive Hiring

Making accessibility our priority

Accessibility was regularly mentioned throughout the day, and rightly so – individuals with a disability are twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people. Could disability be a solution to the skills shortage? Lisa Baldock, HR Consultant at the Department for Work and Pensions, told her story of being deaf, and the reality of exclusion in today’s hiring practices.

‘As soon as you say you have a disability, people don’t even get past that stage. So if I don’t tell them [recruiters] I find I have a better chance.’

Applicants with a disability shouldn’t have to hide information in fear of hindering their chances in the recruitment process. To improve accessibility and disability equality, and to put people at ease, Balkdock suggested solutions such as having public disability policies, including disability within employer branding, and putting blind recruitment into practice. Like the DWP, organisations can unlock accessibility by focusing on strengths, by making adjustments, and by always looking for ways to accommodate people to see a candidate’s full potential. As an accessibility minimum, Baldock asks,

‘Don’t make assumptions – just ask candidates if there anything they need help with’

Inclusive Hiring


Taking action

Torin Ellis - Keynote

A key focus, and theme that spanned all sessions, was taking action… and the lack thereof. In his astounding keynote, Torin Ellis made his intentions very clear – he wanted the audience to speak up.

‘The first thing we all need to do is find our voice – speak up! We are not doing a great job in D&I because not enough of you are speaking-up…. every single person has a responsibility in the continued conversation around diversity and inclusion.’

Ellis asked us to challenge each other to look at diversity and inclusion at every single value point in the organisation – from sourcing, recruiting, onboarding, and training, to employer branding, legal, supply chain… the list goes on. Every single point must be challenged. We can’t just put a job in front of a diverse audience and think our work is done. There’s a lot more work to do! Organizations can no longer hide behind excuses like, ‘there’s no talent in the pipeline’. It’s time to dig in and deliver.

Inclusive Hiring - Torin ellis

A reflection on today’s D&I reality

We thought it fitting to end with a reflection on today’s diversity and inclusion reality – it just so happens to have been spoken by our CEO – Gareth Jones.

The jury is out on inclusion. We, as HR professionals, are aware of the universally acknowledged and proven better outcomes from diversity. Yet the reality is a far cry from ‘better outcomes’. There are many diversity programmes, but very little appear to yield desirable results. Why is this? Gareth suggests,

‘We need to think broader than our current definitions of diversity and inclusion. We tend to deal with diversity and engagement very separately… we compartmentalise them. Instead we need to start taking a more holistic view and find out the bigger issues.’

After building an inclusive recruitment process, your diversity strategy has only just begun. Next up is engagement and performance analysis that starts with a focus on the person and their potential – often overlooked in many organizations. Gareth suggests that, to get engagement right, it’s a two way relationship of trust between a person and their employer:

‘Create an environment of trust, inclusion, respect – all being a joint understanding. Accumulatively, you get a sense of belonging. Belonging is a word that signals we’re taking the industry in the right direction’

We put these principles into action. At Headstart, we: ‘Trust first, verify later. We hire people as adults, peers, people with lots to give, treat them like adults and give them autonomy. They make their own decisions. This should be your minimum standard.’

Gareth Jones - Inclusive Hiring

In most organisations, where there’s a job to fill, we should be using science to match the right people to the right roles. Yet in many organizations, the only definition of a job is a job description – and the only definition of a person is their CV. With so much insight available through other channels, this approach needs to change.

We also use psychographic evaluations to start a dialogue of a candidate’s motivations and values. This creates a common language that takes the pressure off and simply helps us all understand each other better. All results are completely transparent, and we use a third-party consultant to bring additional perspective and assessment.

Hiring diverse future leaders through early talent

At the same event, we ran a workshop in conjunction with Accenture on how recruiting teams can break down ingrained obstacles in the hiring funnel to improve their diversity contribution. You can read more about our Early Talent workshop here.

Over to you

In the many conversations throughout the day, the common theme was taking action. It’s over to us – as HR, people, and talent professionals – to drive change.

We believe the most efficient way to take action to improve diversity and inclusion is by removing bias from your graduate, campus, and early talent hiring process. If you’d like to find out more about how Headstart can help your organization, get in touch today.

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