Five Ways Recruiters Can Instantly Impact Their Clients’ Diversity & Inclusion

March 14, 2022
Sara McPhee Founder and Head of North America

One of the great joys of working in recruitment is the power to directly impact people’s lives. But in matters of Diversity and Inclusion, many of us feel frustrated that there isn’t more we can do.

In this article, we explore five ways recruiters can have a more immediate impact on their clients’ DEI efforts:

1. Champion the benefits

Many businesses today have strict diversity policies in place. But in most cases, the primary motivation for this is legal compliance. This essentially frames diversity as a legal risk, rather than a business opportunity. And that puts an inherently negative spin on the subject.

If businesses are only embracing more diverse candidates for the sake of legal compliance, the measures they put in place are unlikely to produce real cultural change. Candidates will quickly understand that the company is not truly committed to broadening its perspective, and ultimately candidates from underrepresented groups will not want to work for the company.

Recruiters must take it upon ourselves to change this. According to McKinsey, businesses which are more diverse are 35% more likely to outperform competitors. So at every opportunity, we should amplify this message: diversity is not about compliance – it’s about building a better business.

2. Audit and improve DEI messaging

Talking directly about diversity and inclusion can go a long way to making candidates feel safe applying for roles. But too often, businesses’ DEI statements sound dutiful – almost forced. 

Recruiters should take it upon themselves to audit and improve DEI messaging in job ads. This isn’t just about making explicit statements about inclusive hiring policy; it’s also about ensuring that the language does not contain hidden bias or assumptions.

A simple example is gender. Changing language to be gender-neutral in job ads has been found to speed up the recruitment process by 14 days – as well as attracting a more diverse range of candidates.

3. Expand where you advertise jobs

Having the right message is useless if it isn’t being seen by the right people. The internet is a powerful tool in this regard, because it enables us to locate specific communities. And the single best way to increase the diversity of candidates who apply for a role is by advertising that role in more diverse places. 

Recruiters should seek specific avenues where candidates from underrepresented backgrounds will see their posts. While standard job boards and social media platforms are important, many candidates will feel they are not the target audience. But if we speak directly to marginalised groups, they will understand that they are welcome to apply.

4. Standardise the process

Unconscious bias cannot be solved overnight. But what we can do is overhaul the recruitment process and remove factors which lead to – or enable – unconscious bias.

A simple example is blind resumes: removing names and other factors which identify candidates as part of a particular group reduces the possibility of biassed treatment. And by advertising that this is your policy, you encourage candidates to feel safer and more confident applying.

5. Push for diverse interview panels

Encouraging more diverse talent to apply is important. But you also need to ensure that the people assessing them reflect the same level of diversity. 

A recent case study is Intel: they made it a requirement that every interview panel includes at least two women and/or members of underrepresented groups. Within two years, this policy helped increase the number of hires from underrepresented backgrounds by 41%.

While recruiters don’t have the final word on these issues, you can unquestionably encourage clients to follow this example. And by leveraging your expertise, you have a good chance of influencing them in the right direction.