5 Tips to Build an Inclusive Workforce

BITCI News - Nov 01, 2022

In the current economic climate employers of all sizes and across a range of sectors are experiencing recruitment and retention challenges.  Proactively building diversity & inclusion into recruitment and retention strategies can help address these challenges.  Through our work on Elevate The Inclusive Workplace Pledge and our experience supporting diverse jobseekers access employment opportunities that match their skills and capabilities, we have identified a number of tips on how to successfully attract and retain diverse employees and create an inclusive culture. 

1) Screen In

Traditional recruitment screens out. It selects the top candidates based on a standardised set of pre-requisites.  Imagine what could happen if the process was designed to screen in instead.  Start by focusing on essential skills or expertise.  Job descriptions often include un-necessary requirements and jargon or overly complex language.  The applicant pool can be widened if the job is described simply in terms of core skills or expertise and if part time hours, hybrid working or flexible conditions are built into the job design.  Once candidates meet minimum requirements for the role consider how those from under represented groups are included in the first round of the selection process.  Think about the selection process too and how best to assess ability to do the job.  Not everyone demonstrates their potential through an interview, what other options are there to assess candidates suitability for a role? 

2) Demonstrate Commitment

Don’t rely on generic equal opportunity statements. Demonstrate authentic commitment by defining how you are an inclusive employer. Articulate practical examples of how your culture supports Inclusion. For example, in an invitation to interview, include a menu of accommodations available. Aim to create a situation where candidates feel safe to disclose information and avail of appropriate supports. 

2) Train Colleagues

Education and Training is key to over-coming fear that can exist around inclusion, and to tackle bias and challenge stereotypes. A manager who hasn’t worked with a colleague with a disability or whose first language isn’t English may fear saying the wrong thing that could offend. Train managers to manage diverse teams, to have challenging conversations and to get comfortable discussing the uncomfortable. If a new employee is starting and requires certain accommodations, brief immediate colleagues on what to expect and encourage open conversations to allay fears and create support.

4) Create Partnerships

There is a huge range of Employment Support Organisations across the country that can help you widen your recruitment pool and identify potential candidates for open roles.   Such organisation have the experience and first-hand knowledge of the barriers faced by individuals they work with. Very often they can provide ongoing support to successful candidates supporting the onboarding process. Many will also facilitate pre-employment training and/or work placements. Both of which allow potential employers get to know candidate before hiring, providing a buffer of reassurance regarding their ability to do the job.  

5) Don’t Stop at Recruitment

Often employers place emphasis on recruitment to address diversity and inclusion and they make significant investment in pre-employment initiatives. However, post entry support is also needed.  Every new employee needs support and some will need more than others. Establishing a support network across the business for all employees helps with onboarding and paves the way for ongoing development. Facilitate buddying and mentoring initiatives along with employee resource groups to build skills as well as confidence and resilience.  

For more information on the work of Business in the Community Ireland on Diversity & Inclusion including the Elevate Pledge or our supported employment programmes contact Linda O’Sullivan, Senior Adviser losullivan@bitc.ie