Human Resources

7 Ways to Make Your Recruitment Processes More Inclusive


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Recruitment processes can present many hurdles for people from marginalised groups. 

For instance, a study by scientists at the Centre for Social Investigation at Oxford University found that people from black or minority ethnic backgrounds (BME) had to send 80% more job applications than a white person of British origin to get a positive response from an employer. 

Unfortunately, not all recruitment processes are motivated by pure meritocracy alone – sometimes the individual biases of recruitment managers and interviewing staff, as well as systemic issues in the wider company, can make recruitment much more difficult for people from marginalised groups. 

So, how can you make your recruitment funnel more friendly to these groups?

We had a closer look at 7 ways to make your recruitment processes more inclusive!

Embed Inclusivity into Your Company Culture

If you want your recruitment processes to be inclusive, you’ll need to put some work into making your organisation diverse and one that’s a welcoming place to work in for marginalised groups. After all, how can you expect your recruitment process to be inclusive if your organisation isn’t inclusive as a whole? 

Here are some practical tip that you can use when you’re trying to embed inclusivity into your company’s workplace culture:

  • Build a leadership team that’s responsive and empathetic to employee needs
  • Build a shared sense of community and belonging over the long term
  • Don’t focus solely on diversity targets


Examine Barriers to Participation 

One of the most effective ways to make your recruitment processes more inclusive and diverse is to examine barriers to participation from marginalised groups – and come up with a plan to address them. 

Deloitte’s recent report, ‘Inclusive work: Marginalized populations in the workforce of the future’ identifies several common barriers to participation that affect marginalised groups, which is useful to consider when trying to identify barriers in your own recruitment processes. They are:

  • Social stigma
  • Refugee status
  • Previous incarceration
  • Financial constraints 
  • Accessibility needs
  • Childcare needs

Barriers to participation can be tricky to uncover: they are often well hidden and intersectional – they overlap each other, creating a kind of feedback loop. As barriers to engagement aren’t often obvious, you might need to carry out some sustained research into the issues affecting the particular group you’re trying to improve inclusion for to find out what those barriers are.


Undo Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias refers to a set of social stereotypes that some people can unconsciously apply to other social groups.

It happens because of the way that our brains work. In the early days of humanity, our survival as a species was dependent on us being able to make quick decisions about a situation, using our unconscious mind.

Obviously, today, this survival instinct isn’t really needed in the confines of office. Our tendency to unconsciously categorise others based on their characteristics or social group still survives though.

In tandem with this, unhelpfully, most of us are raised in social environments where we’re encouraged to develop stereotypes of different groups or cultures. Even though we don’t mean to, we can still end up being biased against another group without even thinking about it.

Unconscious bias often rears its ugly head a lot in the recruitment processes of many businesses and companies and addressing this is one of the key challenges when it comes to developing an inclusive culture at work.

We recently wrote a blog on how to combat unconscious bias in the workplace which is well worth a read if you’re looking for some more practical ways to improve inclusion in your practice. ACAS also has some useful advice on how to avoid unconscious bias too!

Invest in education

Education has a big role to play in improving the inclusivity of your organisation, and specifically, your recruitment processes.

By training your staff responsible for recruitment in diversity and inclusion issues, you’ll be able to improve their overall approach towards the process, helping to make it much more inclusive as a result.

There’s a wide range of professional training available to help employees improve their knowledge, skills and experience, ranging from short courses that cover one topic in detail, through to full qualifications that cover a range of topics.

If you’re working in HR or L&D for example, the CIPD provides a range of qualifications for employees at all stages of their careers, with specific modules on diversity and inclusion that can help you get to grip with the issues.



Consider voluntary targets rather than quotas

Whilst mandatory hiring quotas and diversity targets can be unhelpful in the context of improving diversity and inclusion at a company, voluntary targets can be useful for encouraging diversity without forcing it – forced diversity becomes tokenism very fast if HR practitioners are not very careful.

If HR departments force diversity on a workplace, through imposing targets, without any real work to improve the inclusivity of a workplace, they’re likely to create a feeling of tokenism and undermine efforts to make their processes fairer.

After all, if a workplace isn’t inclusive to begin with, how is forcing mandatory targets likely to change views and create a welcoming organisation for marginalised groups to join and stay at?

Develop your wider company policies

To a large degree, the official policies that your company sets – and how well they’re observed – will define how inclusive your recruitment process is. Company policies are the rules that your organisation operates by, so develop these in line with the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion.

Inclusion should be embedded in as many aspects of the organisation’s culture as possible in order to improve your chances of building a recruitment policy that’s effective at addressing the issues you’re trying to solve. 

‘An Employer’s Guide to Creating an Inclusive Workforce’ by has some really useful tips for how to create policy that’s geared towards inclusion which can be easily applied to developing an inclusive recruitment strategy. It suggests following a process like this:

  • Consider what you want to achieve
  • Complete a review into how well your company is achieving this at the moment
  • Create a plan to improve on this
  • Communicate the plan to your employees and put it into action
  • Review the plan and tweak it, if necessary



Build and support networks of diversity

Employee networks are a practical way to build the confidence of groups and get them actively involved in the workplace.

Dedicated to a particular marginalised group, like a BAME committee, LGBT+ committee or Womens’ committee, these networks can give these marginalised employees a dedicated space to meet and raise their collective voice.

They can be an excellent resource when it comes to getting firsthand, practical advice on how to make your recruitment processes fairer and more inclusive.

We hope you’ve found this blog useful and that you feel empowered to make your recruitment processes more inclusive. Good luck, and let us know how you get on!


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