CIPD research has shown that just 28% of UK employers train all interviewers on legal obligations and objective interview practice. Less than a fifth make efforts to remove bias through testing the words of job adverts (18%) or checking that tests are valid, reliable and objective (17%).

Unfortunately, no one is immune to unconscious bias, so recruitment processes should be redesigned to reduce the influence of bias and discrimination, while getting the most suitable candidate for a role.

Employers aiming to be more inclusive should also embed inclusive practices in their recruitment process. Recruitment is about getting the most suitable candidate into a role and is crucial for organisations to deliver their goals. However, it is not always clear what makes a candidate ‘suitable’, and there is potential for bias to creep in when making these decisions. Recruitment can be a very subjective process, demanding that hiring managers make complex and high-stakes decisions, often in limited time. This all adds up to make it particularly susceptible to unconscious biases and there is strong evidence that marginalised groups face discrimination in recruitment contexts. We use the phrase ‘marginalised groups’ because it includes all forms of marginalisation by individuals, structures, and society. The term ‘underrepresented’ is not always accurate, since in some cases a marginalised group can be overrepresented but still disadvantaged, for example, women in nursing or education (where men are often in positions of leadership). ‘Marginalised’ captures the power differential, which applies to every context.

While many HR professionals would be shocked by evidence of discrimination, increasing awareness of the biases that affect recruitment is unfortunately not enough to reduce their impact. Instead, recruitment processes should be redesigned to reduce the influence of bias. Clear, objective, structured, and transparent processes are fairer for candidates, supporting more equal outcomes, and enabling employers to attract more diverse talent pools and to select the most suitable candidates for the role. Even small changes to processes can have a big effect on who applies and who is selected, as well as improving the candidate experience.

This guide contains practical, evidence-based actions, aligned with international standards for inclusion and diversity, which employers and hiring managers can implement to make the recruitment process more inclusive. We also include some case studies showing inclusive recruitment in practice, and provide some caution around common actions that may hinder inclusivity.

What is equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)?

Role design and the job advert

Attracting diverse candidates

The next stage in recruitment is to attract a diverse group of applicants to apply, considering the channels used to publicise the job advert as well as the employer’s longer-term outreach efforts.

Application process

Selection Process

References

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