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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

How Inclusive Recruitment Training Can Benefit the Whole Business

Sue Johnson, Managing Partner of our UK Inclusion & Diversity Consulting Practice, and Ryna Young, Partner and Head of our Canadian Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Practice, explain why training managers in inclusive recruitment is critical to hiring practices.   

Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace requires equity to be established in fair recruitment practices and behaviours. Hiring managers serve as the custodians of talent, playing a pivotal role in creating more diversity in their organizations. Given they are typically the initial point of contact for all candidates, they also champion an organization’s principles of inclusivity. Their ability to understand diversity, equity and inclusion principles are imperative if organizations want to truly embed inclusive recruitment as a core value in hiring. However, this can only be scaled if managers are trained and continually supported.    

Our own research shows organizations with an inclusive recruitment policy are five times more likely to train hiring managers on inclusive recruitment and organizations that have trained their hiring managers score 15% higher on their inclusive recruitment practices.

One common concern among hiring managers is the fear of being misinterpreted, which often leads them to revert back to traditional hiring practices. 

Consider the case of hiring individuals with different abilities; for example, neurodivergent individuals may struggle with maintaining eye contact, which could wrongly be interpreted as a lack of interest in the role. Instead of hastily determining these individuals cannot be placed in customer-facing roles, for instance, hiring managers should strive to understand the additional benefits that neurodivergent individuals can bring to the business, including differing perspectives, knowledge and skills, and how to draw these out during interviews.

An inclusive recruitment policy is critical in helping hiring managers build these considerations into the recruitment process and research shows us, for example, that organizations with an inclusive recruitment policy are significantly more likely to hire people who have a disability than organizations that do not. 

A key enabler of inclusive recruitment are technical question tests. They compel hiring managers to focus on the specific skills required for the job, rather than relying solely on their intuition during interviews. Additionally, face-to-face interviews can present challenges for some individuals. By initiating with a technical test, it helps alleviate their apprehensions and facilitates a smoother transition into the interview process. Similarly, if candidates were asked to present a topic, offering the option of pre-recording presentations is another adaptation to ensure inclusivity. While these approaches may result in a smaller pool of candidates, organizations stand to gain higher-quality applicants as a result.   

To achieve better hiring practices, training should go beyond simply providing a checklist for hiring managers to follow. Its purpose should be to instill not just skills and knowledge, but also confidence.

Another effective method to promote inclusivity is through nudges, such as automatically providing a brief refresher on biases (conscious or unconscious) and how this might impact the hiring decision and other inclusive topics for hiring managers when they submit a job requisition form. Likewise, prior to an interview, organizations can carry out a ‘skill burst’ refresher on inclusive hiring approaches. Similarly, science search committees trained on implicit bias were over six times more likely to make an offer to a woman candidate than those who did not. Bias training also led to greater hiring of people of color. 

Ongoing upskilling can be as simple as sharing relevant articles with hiring managers, allowing for passive learning. This approach eliminates the need for organizations to rely on managers themselves to be the only source of learning. Although an inclusive mindset does require managers to actively participate in their own journey of growth and learning, proactively sharing insights, making it more likely for them to apply this knowledge in their hiring decisions.    

Importantly, candidates are increasingly looking to understand organizations’ commitments to DEI.

It is important to acknowledge that candidates are not only being evaluated by the company but are also evaluating the company itself; they seek workplaces where they feel supported and look for authenticity.

Equipping your hiring managers with resources during interview phases that address allyship, practices that mitigate bias and increase inclusion, highlights the importance you place on DEI initiatives, therefore greatly enhancing their ability to attract candidates, especially those from equity-deserving groups. By demonstrating this inclusive behavior in interviews, organizations can create an impactful first impression.   

A visible and firm commitment to DEI will also ensure existing employees, new applicants and hiring managers take a more open-minded and inclusive approach to each recruitment exercise. It will also have a positive impact both internally and externally on your engagement and employer brand. A strong track record and a clear commitment to DEI has been shown to attract more diverse candidates. Conversely, when you do not have a good reputation for DEI, you lose access to diverse talent. 

Investing in training for hiring managers is essential for any organization’s inclusive recruitment. It requires both the implementation of equitable processes and behaviors and ongoing upskilling for hiring managers to understand the unique challenges faced by candidates from equity-deserving groups. Through this, organizations can create a more equitable recruitment landscape for all.


To find out more about Inclusive Recruitment, contact our UK Inclusion & Diversity Consulting Practice, or our Canadian Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Practice, or get in touch with us here.

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