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Inclusive Boards: How to Recruit Better

The business case for diversity is well reported. Business leaders agree that mixed teams are more representative of customers; offer a variety of viewpoints and a wider range of experience, which improves decision-making and problem-solving. Making recruitment practices more open, accessible and inclusive is an important step in building a more diverse workforce. There are a number of simple steps organisations can take to improve their processes which could support increased diversity in hiring. In this post, we’ll be sharing some simple tips!

When defining the specification for the role always identify the key skills in the first instance. Avoid a long list of standard-essential criteria that are not relevant to the position. Research shows that roles with endless lists of requirements, and strict seniority demands can deter women from applying as they often want to make sure they check every criteria listed. Strict education demands can also prevent people from lower socio-economic backgrounds from applying.

Thinking first about skills also prevents tokenism once an appointment has been made and ensures you are making decisions based on the candidate’s abilities and not diversity characteristics.

In the job pack make sure you include a clear equal opportunities statement and don’t hide it in the details on applying at the bottom of the last page. Make sure your commitment to equality and diversity is clear and explicit.

Do your research on using inclusive language. It is impossible to avoid unconscious bias entirely but be aware of what phrases you use to describe the ideal candidate. For example, using platitudes like ‘determined’, or ‘assertive’ are more likely to appeal to men.

Tips for Advertising:

Make sure you go beyond your own networks when advertising the role. Use social media networking groups and membership societies that cater to the area of business you are looking to recruit to.

There are also plenty of advertising options that can help when reaching more diverse groups. For example, Women on Boards aims to break down the barriers to entry to the boardroom for women, minorities and like-minded men and Evenbreak, the UK’s most accessible job board, looks to connect disabled people with disability-friendly and inclusive companies.

Tips for Interviewing:

When designing your interview process consider these simple steps to make it more open and inclusive:

  • Offer reasonable adjustments to disabled candidates and make sure you deliver them when requested. Our Disability in Leadership Toolkit includes some advice on best practice.
  • Offer to pay for travel expenses to support people from less privileged backgrounds attending interviews.
  • Offer to cover childcare expenses for the duration of the interview.
  • Be flexible with candidates when arranging interviews, consider offering a video interview particularly in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.

While there is no quick fix to developing a more diverse workforce it’s important to remember starting with a diversity shopping list risks tokenism. Instead, implementing an open and inclusive process will support in the long term cultural change required to develop a more diverse team.