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Six steps to reduce race discrimination within recruitment

Homa Wilson, Hodge Jones & Allen

A recent report following research by the University of Bristol, the University of Manchester and the National Centre for Social Research, found that whilst the employment prospects of some people from minority backgrounds had improved since the 1970s, they were still stifled when compared with their white counterparts and were being held back by racism1.

There is a copious amount of research to evidence that increased diversity within the workforce results in better financial outcomes for the business.

Research conducted by McKinsey clearly demonstrated that more diverse workplaces perform better financially. Another report, by Deloitte, showed that organisations with inclusive cultures are six times more likely to be more innovative and agile, eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes and twice as likely to achieve financial targets.

The importance of having an inclusive workforce should not be underestimated by businesses. People from different backgrounds bring new and different insights to the workplace.

Here are some steps employers can take to ensure their recruitment process is as fair and inclusive as possible:

Outreach work
Children from less affluent backgrounds do not have the same opportunities to secure work placements within professional settings. In many cases, they will have limited or no opportunity to network with professionals. To help bridge this gap, your organisation should proactively foster links with local schools and other youth organisations. The employer should also engage in mentoring, holding career workshops, and work placement schemes so that children from minority backgrounds are given an opportunity to engage with the business as well as build up their skills and network so that they are better equipped, when they do apply to your organisation for a job.

You should actively encourage your employees to volunteer as mentors. Examples include setting up a scheme, using your premises for the mentor and mentee to meet, allowing staff time off to participate in such initiatives.

Companies should have a dedicated section for ‘outreach work’ on their websites. Doing so will make information about the schemes offered /work undertaken by the company accessible for everyone. This can also be a useful way to invite schools and other organisations to approach the company and partner with them.

Hold workshops to fill the gaps in knowledge and soft skills. Your staff could deliver workshops giving sector-specific advice on topics such as: what to include in a cover letter and how to prepare for a job interview.

How you advertise
Start by looking at where and how you advertise. You should ensure you are reaching as wide an audience as possible.

The photos used in your adverts should depict a diverse range of people – when individuals see someone who looks like them, they are more likely to feel welcomed by the organisation and therefore more likely to apply.

Ensure the wording of your advert does not create bias in any way and does not discriminate against potential candidates based on their race.

Ensure vacancies are posted on various job boards that are easily accessible to a range of candidates from diverse socio-economic backgrounds.

Introduce blind hiring
Name-blind applications will increase the focus on qualifications and merit rather than the biases that even the best-intentioned person may hold.

Another way to really minimise bias is to hold first round interviews as text based only, this means replacing the standard face-to-face interviews. This way the applicant will only have to respond to interview answers on their screen and submit these to the panel for consideration.

Train staff on unconscious bias
You should ensure all those involved in the recruitment process have undertaken unconscious bias training.

This includes those who draft the job description, as well as those involved in shortlisting and conducting the interviews.

Also be open to challenge assumptions based on where someone went to school or where they live.

Ensure diversity amongst staff involved in the recruitment process
People tend to hire people they like; this often means those who are similar to them.

Also try to ensure different employees are part of the interviewing panel, avoid using the same employees over and over again. This ensures different employees have an input and can potentially bring fresh insight into the selection process. Each employee has something different to offer and, as an organisation, you should be nurturing those differences.

Employee referral scheme
Encourage diverse employees in your workforce to refer their contacts to you. This can be encouraged by offering an incentive – which can be financial or some other benefit.

www.hja.net/expert-comments/opinion/employment-law-businesses/six-steps-to-cultivate-diversity-and-tackle-unconscious-bias-in-the-name-of-windrush-day/

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