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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Intentional Inclusion: Ways to Incorporate DE&I in Your Next Search

“DEI in the workplace elevates teams,” Recruitment Manager Jessica Alcock shares to kick off our conversation. “They are more productive, perform better overall, and also offer a broader perspective.”

These days, it seems like everyone’s talking about diversity and inclusion—and with good reason. Many hiring teams are struggling to attract quality talent and eager for strategies to accomplish more with the teams they have. Integrating intentional inclusion practices into your hiring process can have an impact in both of these areas, giving it tangible value for a business even beyond the cultural benefit of promoting a fairer, more equitable workplace.

We asked Summit Search Group’s recruitment leaders to share their thoughts on intentional inclusion, why it matters, and how business leaders can integrate it into their talent acquisition strategy.

What is inclusive hiring?

Put simply, Jessica explains, “Inclusive hiring is minimizing bias in the recruitment process to allow for a diverse candidate pool.”

Inclusive hiring goes beyond just checking demographic boxes. It means creating an equitable environment across the recruitment process, from where and how candidates are sourced to how they’re screened and assessed during interviews.

This broad scope is one reason it can be such a challenge for businesses to achieve, even for those who are committed to inclusivity as one of their guiding values. There is no one simple fix you can make to guarantee that your hiring process is inclusive. Instead, it usually involves making many small adjustments to how job descriptions are written, how you structure the interview process, and which criteria you focus on when comparing applicants.

Making these shifts is worth the time and effort for companies that want to create a more equitable work environment. Inclusive hiring promotes diversity in a number of ways. As Director of Recruitment Aman Sodi points out, “Inclusive hiring ensures fair recruitment practices and removes bias and discrimination from the process. It is important for many reasons, including allowing the organization to tap into a diverse way of thinking.”

The benefits of a diverse and inclusive team

“DE&I certainly elevates teams and companies overall,” says Amanda Graham, Director of Recruitment at Summit’s Toronto office. “Diversity brings in different ideas, thoughts, and approaches into a business. Bringing in individuals from different backgrounds and lived experiences with varying perspectives only helps to deepen business strategies by ensuring differing points of view and ideas are being brought to the table.”

Aman Sodi adds to this, “DEI elevates the team and company overall as it provides a multitude of opinions, ideas, and ways of thinking. It promotes innovation and creative thinking.”

It’s because of these benefits, Aman says, that so many company leaders are eager to implement more inclusive hiring strategies. And executives aren’t the only ones paying attention to these figures. As she explains, “Many of our candidates hold us accountable to ensure that our clients incorporate inclusive hiring practices into their processes.”

Melissa Krakana, a Recruitment Consultant at Summit’s Ottawa office, seconds this idea. As she says, “Job seekers are looking for companies that foster DE&I. Prioritizing this environment within an organization leads to better retention, and employees feel more confident presenting their ideas based on their unique experiences and knowledge.”

Melissa goes on to explain that it’s this stronger sense of employee belonging and psychological safety that drives higher performance and profitability from diverse teams. Not only does the company have a wider array of knowledge and skills to draw from, but individuals within the team feel empowered to share their unique perspective. This helps companies to both attract highly-skilled candidates from a variety of backgrounds and allows them to take full advantage of the diverse teams they’ve built.

Tips to build an inclusive hiring process

Use inclusive language in job postings

“Make sure the job description is written using inclusive language to encourage diverse applicants,” Jessica Alcock advises. Review your job descriptions for gender-coded, ableist, or other biased language. It’s also smart to re-assess the role’s requirements to focus more on skills and competency than specific degrees or workplace experience, which can encourage more applicants with transferable skills from other industries to apply.

Utilize diverse candidate pools

If you use the same job marketplaces and talent pools that you hired from in the past, you’ll likely get the same mix of candidate demographics from them. This can be an issue if your current team is more homogenous than you’d like. The answer? “Post in areas where underrepresented groups may be more likely to reply,” says Aman Sodi. The job boards in The Professional Diversity Network are a great place to start, with dedicated networks for female, black, Hispanic, Asian, and LGBTQ+ job seekers, as well as military veterans and disabled professionals.

Standardize the interview process

One way that bias can influence the hiring process is if it leads interviewers to ask a different set of questions for different candidates. You can avoid this problem by creating a standardized interview and screening process. As Jessica explains, “This ensures all candidates have the same experience and are measured using the same questions and tools.” That way, you’re truly comparing them on equal footing, allowing for a fairer and more accurate comparison of applicants.

Consider “culture add” instead of “culture fit”

The values that a culture is built on apply broadly across candidates from any background, but other aspects of culture fit can undermine your diversity and inclusion efforts. After all, if someone’s a perfect fit to your current team, that means they’re not adding anything new. Inclusion is about expanding the perspectives on your team, not limiting them. This is why it is often more productive to consider candidates based on what new perspective or ideas they’ll bring to your team than to look for those who fit the mold of the employees you already have.

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Intentional Inclusion: Ways to Incorporate DE&I in Your Next Search

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