Many organisations are trying to create and execute an inclusive recruitment process. The benefits are numerous, from improving your employer brand through to increasing your talent pool. But it is more than just about a process.

To fully realise the benefits of an inclusive recruitment process, an organisation must first look at ensuring they create an inclusive culture otherwise their recruitment process will just fall short.

Take a look at our 8 top tips on how creating an inclusive culture ensures that you have are building a sustainable and productive workforce to meet your business goals.

1. Visibility, Vision and Value are essential to inclusion

To build an inclusive culture, always remember the three Vs. People from the widest range of backgrounds need to be highly visible throughout your organisation, so that their presence is seen, their viewpoints heard, and their achievements celebrated. There needs to be a strong vision, of the type of culture you are working towards and the milestones you will need to reach to achieve your goals, along with a real mandate for change, supported at the highest level. Above all, you need to build a culture which starts with the premise that every employee is of value - and is valued for who they are and what they do.

2. Don’t compartmentalise inclusion

Building an inclusive culture can’t be achieved by simply launching a set of specific DEI&B (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging) initiatives - important though such projects are. Inclusion is not just an HR issue that can be solved by changing HR processes. It needs to be modeled and present in day-to-day behaviour and practices throughout all operations, with a focus on listening to and including every member of the team.

3. An inclusive culture can’t be imposed from above – it has to be evolved with the widest possible input

There is no ‘one size fits all’ external template for delivering inclusion – it depends on the very specific circumstances of your sector, your organisation, your location, your geography - even on ongoing events such as Covid. Diversity of thought is wholly reliant on the diversity of the team that you have around you. If you don’t have a diverse team inputting into any project – including the development of a DEI&B strategy - you won’t have diversity of thinking.

It’s essential to actively seek out the widest possible range of views internally, allowing people to communicate those in the channels and ways that suit them. In order to hear from all voices, an atmosphere of psychological safety is vital – as is an awareness of the cultural variations in everything from preferred methods of communication to attitudes towards hierarchy across the countries and regions in which your business is based.

4. A fully integrated Employee Resource Group network is key

Employer resource groups are key in representing the underrepresented – and provide a voice for people with common purpose and interest within your business. Groups of passionate individuals, with a real desire to increase inclusion and diversity, can provide vital insights, direction, and impetus to deliver change. It’s vital though, that their input is acted on and translated into clear codes of practice, processes, training projects, communications drives or other initiatives.

5. Inclusion needs to be built into the whole employee journey

Having an inclusive workforce starts with having an inclusive recruitment process. But be mindful of measurement without a real commitment to drive change. You can have impressive attraction data on your ATS (applicant tracking system), which reflects a growing diversity in your applicant base. But without the determination to take steps to create an inclusive environment for those applicants, the attrition rates will be high and not just throughout the interview and selection process but also in the first 90 days and beyond. Similarly, canvassing opinion on DEI&B issues through a survey is an important first step – but will achieve little if it’s not acted on.

That’s why there needs to be a real mandate for change at every stage of the employee’s journey. From recruitment and assessment to onboarding and career development. Initiatives to drive inclusion in the day-to-day working experience are just as vital. Flexible working that’s easy to access, workspaces that empower those with a disability, processes that meet the needs of the neurodivergent, and fair and equal pay initiatives. These are just a few examples of key areas of focus.

6. Inclusive recruitment and assessment can widen your talent pool

Inclusive recruitment looks beyond a candidate’s CV to hire on principles, shared values and aligned vision. Rather than focusing exclusively on experience and hard skills, it works to understand the motivations of the individual and what makes them unique. What makes you want to do the job? What is this job going to do for your development? What are you going to do for our organisation, and what value can you bring? This candidate-centric approach in the selection and interview process helps widen the talent pool. Right from the beginning this places the emphasis on how the candidate can be included and developed in the workplace.

Technology can also help in the drive for inclusion throughout the assessment process. Just one example - new online gamification tools can be specially programmed to select cognitively diverse candidates, by delivering assessments that allow for a range of types of thinking and solution, rather than simple binary ‘right or wrong’ answers.

7. Onboarding is a vital tool

An onboarding strategy that provides candidates with personalised content around their new division, location and role. That allows them to build connections with people throughout their team, from line manager to assigned buddy, is key to the inclusion process. Such onboarding can be started from the moment an offer is accepted through an online portal. This can also provide them with a ‘first 90 day’ plan to help integrate them swiftly into the business. Regular catchups with line managers are also important in the first three months to ensure things are running smoothly, as are career path planning sessions, so they can clearly see potential future development paths though the business.

8. Inclusive talent management drives retention and builds a more flexible workforce

A coherent talent management strategy that allows people from all backgrounds to carve out a stimulating and rewarding career is possibly the most important factor in including and retaining a diverse workforce. Without it, you run the risk of continually hiring diverse talent only for people to become disillusioned and leave. A talent assessment function that works across regions, departments and business areas will ensure you are maximising the potential of your people, to move fluidly across your business, taking advantage of all the opportunities you have on offer.

Skills based workforce planning can also be a powerful tool for driving inclusion in the workforce, both through internal development, and external recruitment. It removes the focus from hard skills (which tend to be role or team specific but are often relatively easy to train people in) to soft skills. These take much longer to evolve, are harder to train for, and can exist in people anywhere within your organisation. Shifting to focus on softer skills such as the ability to positively cope with constant change enables greater fluidity when it comes to both initial recruitment and internal promotions, widening your potential talent pool, and increasing development opportunities for a wider range of people.

From skills-based workforce planning to inclusive recruitment processes and technology tools, Cielo can work with your organisation to help build a more inclusive culture to meet your business goals.