Is your hiring process inclusive?

Your immediate reaction to this is most likely, “um, maybe? I don’t really think about it”.

And while it might not be our intention to treat any candidate unfairly or put someone at a disadvantage, there’s a good chance there are parts of our hiring processes that are doing just that.

Morally, this feels uncomfortable (and it should), but it also limits our ability to build successful and diverse teams. Unconsciously, the systems and processes that we use to recruit can introduce bias into our hiring, limit our talent pools, and compound our recruiting challenges. Ultimately, this can result in teams that are so similar and like-minded that there’s a lack of different opinion, thought, challenge and other material ingredients for creativity and innovation.

So, how do we ensure that we’re inclusive? The answer is complex and requires a much deeper conversation than this article will allow. But there are certainly a few steps we can take to help us on our journey to inclusivity.

Write your job advertisements and job descriptions in plain language

It’s irritating, right? When you’re reading a job advertisement so full of jargon that you’re having to Google to make sense of it (even if you’re from the industry!). However, if you’re a neurodivergent candidate, or have a text reader, these acronyms can be impossible to navigate. They lead to complex phrasing, awkward sentences, and big chunks of text that have very little meaning. To be inclusive, we need to think about using more conversational language and saying what we mean. There’s no need to talk it down, but we should be selective about the language we use so that it accurately reflects the role in a way which is both easily read and easily understood.

Auditing advertisements for biased language

Ever heard of Textio? It’s just one of many available pieces of software designed to enable hiring teams to quickly optimise job posts, social posts and more, to appeal to the broadest audience via their choice of language. On their website it states, “for many job seekers, it only takes a few words to signal ‘this isn’t the place for me’” and they’re right. Biased language can take the form of gendered language (i.e. language that is coded masculine or feminine) or, alternatively, could be culturally loaded to favour certain demographics. As Textio CEO, Kieren Snyder states, “when thousands of people in an organisation use words like ‘ruthlessly’ (used at Meta 8x more often than the rest of the industry) or ‘whatever it takes’ (used at Amazon 14x more often than the rest of the industry) ….it is culturally revealing — regardless of what inclusive values leadership may espouse from the top.” Essentially, we need to audit our job advertisements to ensure that they appeal en masse, and that our advertisements demonstrate and embed the cultural values of our organisations.

Think about accessibility

Are your fonts legible and consistent? Have you thought about the use of colour on your website? What about your application page, does it timeout or can you take as much time as you need? Are there alternative ways for people to apply that don’t rely on technology? Not one size fits all when it comes to accessibility, and we need to be mindful of the access, platforms and technology that we use and whether this is accessible to all candidates.

There’s a lot to think about, but awareness is always the first step.

Martin Norris, Head of recruitment at Realise