As more organisations recognise the value of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, there’s no doubt business leaders will continue to dedicate more resources to promoting equitable recruitment processes.

However, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Research from the Diversity Council of Australia (DCA) revealed that a significant proportion of minorities and culturally-diverse groups face discrimination in the workplace.

Almost half, 48%, of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers and workers with disability reported experiencing at least one incident of discrimination and/or harassment at work over a 12-month period. Meanwhile, 40% of LGBTQI+ workers and 43% of non-Christian workers reported the same.

From a business perspective, developing inclusive recruitment processes not only helps stamp out discrimination, but also positively impact talent attraction and retention. According to the DCA, employees in inclusive teams are five times more likely to be satisfied with their job, and three times less likely to leave, than workers in non-inclusive teams.

The case for diversity and inclusion is clear. But where should you start? In this article, we explore the key steps that businesses can take to developing an inclusive recruitment process.

1. Develop a clear diversity and inclusion policy

A diversity and inclusion (D&I) policy lays the groundwork for your entire organisation – and it is a critical first step to promoting inclusive recruitment processes. Your D&I policy should demonstrate a commitment to fostering, cultivating and preserving a workplace culture of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

Work with relevant business leaders to develop a D&I policy that encourages and enforces:

  • Respectful interaction and communication between all employees
  • Practices and processes that allows for representation of all groups and perspectives
  • Contributions to the community that serve to support minority groups, such as volunteer days and charitable donations
  • HR processes for mitigating and managing intolerant behaviour

Once the policy is defined, communicate it across the organisation and include an open discussion where employees have the opportunity to ask questions or raise concerns.

RELATED: 5 ways to improve equity in the workplace

2. Provide diversity training

Diversity training is imperative for educating employees on, and addressing, biases and prejudices within the workplace. This is especially critical for managers who will be making hiring decisions, where unconscious bias can contribute to workforce inequity.

Harvard researchers found that two of the most effective types of diversity training are:

  • Perspective-taking. The process of “walking in someone else’s shoes” by writing a few sentences imagining the distinct challenges minorities or culturally diverse groups might face.
  • Goal-setting. Asking participants to set specific goals related to diversity in the workplace – for example, to challenge inappropriate comments about marginalised groups when overhearing them in the future.

3. Establish inclusive hiring metrics

Setting inclusive hiring metrics ensures measurable outcomes and holds relevant stakeholders accountable, as well as a framework for continuous improvement. Depending on your business or organisation, these metrics could be directly related to increased hiring of marginalised groups, improving employee feedback regarding inclusion, or both. For example:

  • To reach 50% female representation in executive roles within 24 months
  • To increase the percentage of minority employees within your sales team by 15% within 12 months
  • To increase employee net promoter scores (ENPS) by 20% within 12 months

4. Build diversity and inclusion into your employer brand

A survey by Deloitte found that 80% of workers consider inclusion important when choosing an employer. With this in mind, representing your stance on D&I within your external employer branding is an essential counterpart to promoting it internally.

Revisit your employer brand to ensure D&I is clear in both the language and imagery you use. Ensure this is consistent across all relevant channels, including your website’s careers page, company LinkedIn profile and other social media profiles.

5. Review the language in your job ads

A study by augmented writing platform Textio found that the average job ad contains twice as many phrases considered ‘masculine’ rather than ‘feminine’, which consequently results in more men applying for specific roles.

Australian software company Atlassian put this to the test by rewording its job ads. Over a two-year period, the company increased the number of women hired for technical positions by 80%.

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment offers the following guidelines for gender-neutral alternative words that can be used in job ads:

gender neutral table for job advertisements

6. Promote workplace flexibility

Adopting a flexible work policy assists in attracting and retaining diverse talent and promoting an inclusive workforce. The DCA found Australian employees with childcare and caring responsibilities, particularly women, were mostly likely to work flexibly, followed by workers with disability and younger employees.

Depending on your organisation, your flexible work policy might include:

  • Flexible regular working hours
  • The option to work from home
  • Job-sharing
  • The option to purchase additional leave

RELATED: Workplace flexibility crucial for leaders to get right: report

7. Use a hiring matrix

A hiring matrix is a document for objectively assessing applicants' qualifications based only on job-related criteria. When assessing candidates, direct your hiring managers to complete a matrix including:

  • A list of the key skills, knowledge or other requirements for the role
  • A score for each candidate on a scale of 1 to 5 for each role requirement

Use this matrix to help eliminate bias and ensure hiring decisions are fair and equitable.

8. Review and improve your processes

Finally, regularly review your processes against the inclusion metrics you identified to track how you’re performing. Developing an inclusive recruitment strategy is an ongoing process, and one that will need to be periodically adjusted to continue to meet your goals.

If you’re looking for support with inclusive hiring, get in touch with Michael Page’s specialist recruitment consultants.

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