Tags: career-guidance, Career Guidance, Recruitment Advice...

By David Holden

The past decade has seen an increasing number of employers come to recognise the business benefits of improving the level of diversity and inclusion within their workforces.

Having recruited on behalf of the Legal sector for over ten years, I have personally witnessed this shift across the wider Professional Services landscape. In fact, nearly 60 percent of our legal placements in 2018 were women.

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But although we’ve certainly come a long way from traditional recruitment practices and workplace management models, there’s still more that needs to be done in terms of improving the level of diversity and inclusion across all sectors and industries. 

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Following the HR Conference we hosted in partnership with the Manchester Law Society, which covered the importance of diversity and inclusion in recruitment and employee management, this blog delves into the changing nature of UK’s workforce, and what employers can do to promote inclusion and diversity in the workplace. 

The changing workforce and why we need diversity and inclusion in recruitment

​The UK’s working population is changing, and we now have four different generations of talent with diverse approaches to job-seeking and employment.

This shift means employers are no longer in a position to pick and choose the best talent, but rather the best talent is spoilt for choice when it comes to finding an employer which best fits their personal values, working styles, and lifestyle needs.

As recruitment specialists, we have kept our ears to the ground of changing candidate behaviours which have continued to reshape and redefine recruitment practices throughout the globe.

*Research reveals there has been a 38 percent decrease in permanent placements generated by job boards, with 62 percent of millennials visiting social media for job information, and 68 percent using their mobile device to search for jobs.

Recent years have also seen a shift towards flexible working, with a significant percentage of the UK’s workforce valuing the option to work flexibly or remotely over high salaries.

In fact, our own research on the topic found that 63 percent of candidates will always consider the flexible working policies an employer has in place before applying for a job, while a further 56 percent said they would reject a job offer if an employer had little to no flexible working policies.

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Furthermore, 70 percent of the candidates who participated in our survey said they would accept increased flexible working over a salary increase, while a staggering 85 percent said they would consider staying in their current role for a longer period of time if flexible working provisions increased.

There’s no disputing that companies which promote inclusion of diverse people and ideas are the most successful in today’s business landscape. But with the UK’s workforce comprising a diverse melting pot of personalities, generations, cultures and backgrounds, it’s important to execute an inclusive recruitment strategy which speaks to a diverse range of talent.

Absence of diversity and inclusion in recruitment limits access to the best talent

​Taking steps to attract diverse candidates to your company is a key factor in developing a diverse workforce, yet many employers still allow traditional recruitment processes and their inherent biases to influence their hiring decisions.

The unfortunate result of these influencing factors manifest in how far too many employers overlook great candidates with untraditional backgrounds and innovative ideas to bring to the table.

Research by the Department of Work and Pensions revealed that job applications with a white-sounding name were 74 percent more likely to receive a positive response than those with an ethnic minority name.

Meanwhile, a BBC show submitted CVs from two fictitious candidates, ‘Adam’ and ‘Mohamed’ to 100 job postings and found that the former was offered three times more interview invitations and was contacted by recruiters twice as many times.

Unconscious bias can also have an underlying effect on hiring decisions following the interview process. Lauren Rivera from the Northwestern Kellogg School of Management so aptly summed up the issue, saying: “In the absence of concrete answers to interview questions and reliable predictors of future performance, assessors purposefully use their own experiences as models of merit.”

Research also reveals that 25 percent of Managers who identified as graduating from a top university say they prefer hiring candidates from similar schools.

Embracing diversity and inclusion to attract and retain the best talent

​There are many steps employers can take to promote inclusion and attract diverse talent, and many companies are currently leading the way in this regard. Among these is the BBC, which has pledged to increase the number of ethnic minority staff conducting interviews and has banned ‘All White’ shortlists for middle and senior ranking roles.

Another company which has recently enhanced its employee value proposition is Diageo. Until now, one of the best perks of working for the world’s biggest spirits company was a product allowance. However, Diageo’s 4,500 employees across the UK will now be raising a glass to a new policy, open to men and women, granting them 52 weeks of parental leave – with the first 26 on full pay.

Below are my three top tips to promote diversity and inclusion in the recruitment process

1. Write inclusive job adverts which speak to a diverse range of candidates 

​This includes writing job adverts so the language doesn’t discourage certain candidates from applying, and ensuring employees are aware that the business is embracing diversity and inclusion as part of their recruitment strategy. Make sure the advert concentrates on selling your organisation and not just what you are looking for. Do also try to not have too many requirements on experience or the person as they can detrimentally effect application levels from candidates you would have probably felt suitable. 

2. Accept blind CVs from Recruiters

​Accepting blind CVs from recruiters is also a significant stride towards increasing diversity and inclusion in your workplace. This approach allows hiring managers and other key stakeholders in the recruitment process to evaluate individuals based on merit alone. It is becoming more and more common. The tech world is embracing it too with a number of Apps or products now offering this service for matching job seekers to employers.

3. Appoint hiring decision-makers who represent diversity and inclusion

​Employers can also benefit from appointing a diverse interview panel or a diversity champion for recruitment. Designing an evaluation that is predictive of performance will also help hiring managers choose talent based on their level of competency for the role.

This allows employers to develop a workforce with a broad range of backgrounds, increasing the likelihood of bringing in new ideas and creating a highly inclusive, diverse and productive workforce. 

What are you doing to promote diversity and inclusion in your workplaces? If you'd like to continue this conversation or see our complete Flexible Working report, you can contact me on: david.holden@search.co.uk

We can help you execute a diverse and inclusive recruitment strategy

​The UK's workforce is changing, and employers now have to execute more diverse and inclusive recruitment strategies in order to attract and retain the best talent. Contact your nearest Search office to find out how we can help you grow your workforce by appointing the best talent to your business!

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*Some of the research published in this article is courtesy of Indeed.