The Inclusive Hiring Guide

CHAPTER 1

11 Tips for Hiring More Inclusively

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Your average hiring process includes several steps, and we want you to be as prepared as possible to consider and re-envision each with clarity and creativity from the moment you write the job description to the end of the onboarding process. In this chapter, we’ll share a list of practical recommendations for every step of your hiring process, which we have represented in the map below, as well as more general advice that requires an ongoing effort.

“The best way to approach inclusive hiring is to take a few steps back and look at your process with a fresh set of eyes. In fact, it might be time for you to ask yourself how you’d design your Candidate Journey and its touchpoints if you could totally reinvent it while keeping inclusivity in mind.”
- Corey Hollemeyer. Tips for hiring more inclusively

One last thing before we dive in: remember - you can’t improve what you don’t measure. We’ll help you set goals, track and analyze your results in the following chapter.

When reinterpreting your hiring process, nothing’s a given anymore - you’ll need a true paradigm shift. As shared by Harvard Kennedy School professor of public policy Iris Bohnet, it’s important that we change the default to drive change, so let’s arm ourselves with curiosity and creativity as we take our first steps together toward more inclusive hiring for your organization. Let’s have a look at our recommendations.

Tips for hiring more inclusively

1.1 Create Your Strategy and Code of Conduct

The very first step is to strategize, to understand the scope of Diversity and Inclusion that you seek for your hiring practices. You can include factors such as generational, neurodiversity, ability, and veteran status. As time goes by, you’ll discover more and better ways to become a true champion of inclusive hiring practices. Drafting a code of conduct is a great starting point. Among other things, your code should address how your employees can file a complaint. Design your code with the involvement of company leaders across functions and make it visible and easy to access. The team drafting the code of conduct should be inclusive and diverse; if underrepresented groups lack representation at your organization at this moment, you can ask for outside help.

1.2 Write Inclusive Job Descriptions

Tips for hiring more inclusively Are you looking for inspiration?
ProjectInclude wrote a detailed guide on the subject, including resources you can utilize during your research.

Let’s talk about job descriptions. There are three components to them: their tone of voice, their content, and their formatting. As a general rule, your job descriptions and job titles should embody clarity and Inclusivity through and through - yes, this applies to job titles as well. Words and expressions are powerful enough to sometimes repel certain demographics. Use terms like “ninja,” “rockstar,” “strong,” or “competitive” in your job description, and you might almost exclusively get male candidates. Expressions such as “sensitive,” “supportive,” or “collaborative environment” might lead to the opposite effect. Also, remember to avoid gender-specific pronouns whenever you can. Industry jargon isn’t your friend either.

1.2.2 Content

Your role description should include every relevant piece of information. Are you an Equal Opportunity Employer? Write a genuine EEO statement to let the world know! Your job posting should also include working hours, salary, benefits, details about your recruiting process, and clues about your company culture.

Tips for hiring more inclusively Your toolbox: Tone of voice
To ensure that your vacancy posting’s language is gender-neutral, use tools such as textio.com, Gender Decoder, or Applied. Bryq’s AI-Powered Profile Predictor feature uses AI and the knowledge of I/O psychologists to understand whether the language you use in your job descriptions matches the role you’re trying to fill.

Tips for hiring more inclusively Pro tip
When we interviewed her, Corey Hollemeyer, Neurodivergent NeuroDiversity Inclusion Expert, said to “include 6 core daily tasks that can be expected to happen on a regular basis - avoid mentioning rare assignments so as not to confuse the applicant.”

Tips for hiring more inclusively Did you know?
Including “salary negotiable” in your job description reduces the gender wage gap by 45%!

Completeness of information will relieve some anxiety and give clarity to the applicants. Write enough so that the candidate knows what to expect, but not too much as to impair their decision-making. Include all physical requirements for each role so as to allow people with diverse abilities to opt in or out of your application process, and make sure to convey what a typical day in the job looks like.

Don’t narrow the candidate pool more than necessary, and move the “nice-to-haves” to a dedicated section. Remove non-essential degree requirements, as recommended in Regina Hartley’s TED Talk “Why the Best Hire Might Not Have the Best Resume,” which we explored in our 2020 Tea on Recruiting Christmas Special episode. What matters most is the distance a candidate has traveled to get where they are, regardless of their starting point. This way, you open your doors to talent from a different background and socioeconomic status.

Tips for hiring more inclusively Deep dive: Salary information
In an article she wrote, Amy Sample Ward shared very significant pointers on the importance of disclosing salary information:
1. Disclosing salary information signals to your candidates that they can expect trust, transparency, and respect from you if they join your organization;
2. You remove the burden to prove one’s worth from your job applicants, which will reduce their anxiety and prove your genuine concern with gender equity, racial equity, and intersectional identity equity issues;
3. It will save your candidates’ time, and yours too: potentially interested talent will know if they’ll be able to cover their household expenses before going through your application process - it’s a win-win;
4. It’s a good signal to the job applicants about the level of responsibility the role entails at your organization. It’ll help them know if they could be a fit.

Tips for hiring more inclusively Pro tip
More advice from Corey Hollemey: “Stick to hard, measurable job responsibilities and remember to be flexible. When you require experience with a software, for instance, add “or similar tools” - your candidate might be inexperienced with Microsoft Word, but proficient with Google Docs, Pages, or similar. Teaching them the specifics of the software of your preference would be an easy fix - a motivated candidate with the right competencies can easily overcome situations like these with on-the-job training.”

It’s time to question the concept of “cultural fit”: some employees don’t need to be outgoing and sociable or great communicators to fill their roles. Strive for an ever-evolving organizational culture that welcomes people who don’t resemble everyone else who’s already working with you. Your entire workforce will benefit from a broader spectrum of talents and backgrounds - it’ll enrich everyone’s experience. Just like a poor choice of words, a misguided selection of benefits can push some of your candidates away. For instance, sports outings or exotic company retreats mostly attract male candidates. Additionally, trivial benefits alone won’t cut it. Ask yourself what the best talent you could ever hire would enjoy, be it pension plans, extended gender-neutral parental leave, mentorship programs for minorities, remote work, and more. Make sure to offer equitable compensation to be one of the players leveling the fields when it comes to gender and racial pay gaps.

1.2.3 Formatting

Formatting is key. Here are some easy adjustments that will make a huge difference, especially for your candidates with visual problems or dyslexia:

  • Use short sentences and brief paragraphs
  • Highlight words by emboldening them or using a larger font
  • Your fonts should be highly legible

Tips for hiring more inclusively Outstanding example
Susan Wojcicki’s move at Google in 2007 saw her increasing paid maternity leave by 6 weeks reduced the turnover rate for working moms by 50% by making them feel included and making their lives easier. The right benefits don’t only attract but also retain the talent you need.

Tips for hiring more inclusively Pro tip
The British Dyslexia Association recommends sans serif fonts as they’re easier to read. The list includes the following fonts:
Arial
Comic Sans
Verdana
Tahoma
Century Gothic
Trebuchet
Calibri
Open

1.3 Make Your Career Website Welcoming and Accessible

The very first step is to strategize, to understand the scope of Diversity and Inclusion that you seek for your hiring practices. You can include factors such as generational, neurodiversity, ability, and veteran status. As time goes by, you’ll discover more and better ways to become a true champion of inclusive hiring practices.

Tips for hiring more inclusively Did you know?
Did you know? 9% of candidates with disabilities drop out of job applications early because there are usability issues with a careers page or the actual application.

Tips for hiring more inclusively Deep dive: Salary information
You can find more detailed information about your career page’s accessibility on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Here are some pointers - make sure that your career website:

  • Is easy to navigate. Use structural elements: headers, titles, and lists that can be easily scanned by an assistive screen reader tool are your friends.
  • Has a color palette with high contrast. his helps people with visual impairments or color blindness differentiate between designs.
  • Includes transcripts and/or captions for video.This will allow the aurally-impaired to access your content.
  • Can be navigated without the use of a mouse.
  • Includes pictures of your team, not stock photos. Ask for everyone’s consent, of course. This signals Inclusivity to your potential applicants.

1.4 Sourcing Diverse Candidates Inclusively

When you’re sourcing talent from diverse backgrounds, think of the specific competencies the role requires and ask yourself where your potential star talent might be. Explore different venues. ProjectInclude recommended unconventional venues such as “cod ing camps, boot camps, community colleges, and nano degree programs.”

Tips for hiring more inclusively Pro tip
LinkedIn is an evergreen option, but it’s insufficient on its own - InMail often gets disregarded. Use it to filter talent for the role’s fundamental requirements and pair it up with a new platform to get a better understanding of the potential candidate you have in mind and to make your outreach feel more genuine and personal.

Tips for hiring more inclusively Your toolbox: Inclusive sourcing
Here are a few ideas for social media platforms you can use: Quora, Reddit, Twitter, Medium, Clubhouse, Slack communities;
Here are some job platforms (more can be found here):
Jopwell (Black and Hispanic job hunters)
include.io (LGBTQ+ women with a love for tech)
Diversity.com (Black and minority talent at all skill levels)
iHispano (Ambitious candidates from the Latinx community)
Fairygodboss (Female candidates at all skill levels)
Female Executive Search (C-level female candidates)
Campus Pride (Entry-level candidates from the LGBTQ community)
WorkForce50 (Talent with 50+ years of age)
AbilityLinks (Candidates with disabilities)
VetJobs (Military veterans of all branches of service) 7
0 Million Jobs (Formerly incarcerated talent)

1.5 Inclusive Communication and Candidate Outreach

Once you find the candidates, you enter the outreach phase - you’ll be able to apply most of our advice to your communication with the candidates in general.

  • Make sure that your messages feel personal and make sure they’re not missing the human touch. This way your interaction will translate into a lasting positive impression
  • Never, ever tokenize your candidates - we’ve talked about it before
  • Use inclusive language through and through
  • Be consistent in your communication

1.6 Optimized Resume Parsing

Now you’re in touch with the candidate and you’re parsing their resume.
“If Nikola Tesla applied to Tesla, would we even give him an interview? I’m not sure we would. We should, obviously. That does concern me. I think we could do a better job of vetting resumes, and really, we’re just looking for evidence of exceptional ability - not whether somebody graduated from a particular school.”
- E. Musk.
If you’ve decided that you’ll keep on requiring resumes during the application process, read further, for we’ll share useful information that can help you make the wisest choices when parsing CVs. Some tools can help you shift to blind recruitment. Not only will these tools reduce your bias, but they’ll help you save time too.

Tips for hiring more inclusively Your toolbox: Resume parsing
• Solutions like Alex or RChilli let you disable certain data fields so you can’t discriminate based on your candidate’s name, age, gender, picture, and more • Bryq’s product could help you screen your candidates blindly

If you decide to parse manually, remember: it shouldn’t be a one-person job. A diverse team is best equipped to challenge bias. The hiring team could involve: recruiters, hiring managers, hiring team members, someone from another team, and someone from outside your organization.

1.7 Conversation Time!
How To Revolutionize Interviews

Tips for hiring more inclusively Did you know?
93% of Americans say that job interviews have, at some point, given them anxiety.

It’s time to interview your candidate! Here’s how you can optimize this step of your hiring process for Inclusivity:

  • Consider renaming interviews. Calling them a conversation to get to know the candidate and opting for a more casual setting might help your more anxious candidates feel comfortable.
  • You might want to turn your interviews into a walk & talk meeting. This may benefit your candidates: by burning off their nervous energy, your job applicants could relax and have an easier time focusing on the conversation.
  • Account for sensory issues. Some people are affected by hypersensitivity to noise, light, smells, and/or tact. Try to ensure that the environment isn’t too noisy and that the lights aren’t too bright. Consider not wearing perfume on the day of your meeting. Finally, let go of your expectations on attire unless it’s strictly necessary for them to wear a specific outfit: the seams in some clothing could feel distracting and intolerable to some of your candidates.

Tips for hiring more inclusively Did you know?
Some questions may be illegal where you are and are best avoided even where allowed.

  • Let your candidates prepare. If you share the interview questions in advance, your job applicants will be able to give you more thorough answers. In case of online interviews, send your candidates pointers on video interview best practices, including audio and video recommendations. If the interview is in person, share details about the building’s accessibility in case your candidates have disabilities.
  • Ask flexible and open-ended role-related questions. After all, you’re trying to understand how the candidate thinks and approaches problem-solving.
  • Be open-minded. Try to get to know the candidate and establish rapport to truly understand if it’s a match. Be prepared for different styles of communication - some cultures, for one, make it difficult to take personal credit for one’s professional results.
  • Opt for structured interviews. The standardized process makes sure you’ll ask each candidate the same questions.
  • Consider two-on-one interviews. They create a more inclusive, less emotionally draining environment than one-on-ones and a less confronting one than with large panels.
  • Be respectful and welcoming. Interviews are a two-way street, so show up on time, prepare for potential questions the candidates may ask you, and keep your bias in check. Welcome all requests for accommodations - for example, you should offer candidates who are hard-of- hearing the support of an interpreter.
  • Ask flexible and open-ended role-related questions. After all, you’re trying to understand how the candidate thinks and approaches problem-solving.
  • Employ a diverse hiring team that’s regularly trained for unconscious bias. This increases the odds of spotting and course-correcting non-inclusive behavior.
  • Write down your interview feedback within 24 hours. This way, nothing will be forgotten. Make sure that the feedback gets submitted independently to avoid groupthink.

1.8 Assessing Talent Inclusively: Yes, But How?

Talent assessments can help you evaluate your candidate’s skills, aptitude, personality, and perspective, all while attempting to predict future performance. There are so many ways to go at it! One of the best methods involves job simulations and work samples. These let the candidate perform job-related tasks in real- time. It’s the best way to predict future performance, show you how the candidate thinks and how they handle complex situations with limited resources, all while giving them a better feel of what the job would be like.

Tips for hiring more inclusively Pro tip
Just like for in-person interviews, try to reduce external stimuli like excessive lights or noise that might distract the candidate.

For cognitive ability testing, use reliable tests and only ask for what’s needed. Personality tests gauge multiple skills and attributes like leadership, creativity, attendance, and more. They can help you understand your candidates’ levels of conscientiousness, openness, agreeableness, extraversion, and neuroticism - they’re a possible alternative to in-person interviews. Finally, there are additional assessment methods such as psychometric tests, behavioral tests, job-specific technical tests, and AI-powered proctoring. Explore them, and see what would best fit your organization.

Tips for hiring more inclusively PRO TIP
Do you want to offer your candidates a more engaging and realistic experience? Move your standard psychometric tests onto gamified platforms. There’s an extra gain for you: you’ll be able to collect thousands of behavioral data points for more informed talent selection.

Tips for hiring more inclusively Deep dive: Salary talent assessment
If you haven’t already watched it, enjoy our The Tea On Recruiting episode on talent assessment methods.

1.9 Select Your Talent The Right Way

Now, let’s optimize the Inclusivity of your selection process:

  • Standardize it
  • Create a streamlined framework. In it, clarify who will be the decision-maker and whether there is a voting system involving the other stakeholders

The optimization will probably take some trial and error. Be patient - this process is especially hard for larger companies.

1.10 Don’t Forget the Impact of Good Onboarding

“Developing plans to diversify teams takes a lot more consideration and planning than most realize. So many times, I was thrown into my work without proper onboarding or training. Being a minority is challenging enough. Being a minority and lacking guidance and support is almost always a sure way to be set up for failure. It is imperative that organizations place a great deal of focus on sustaining their marginalized staff. The enthusiasm around hiring fades quickly when there is no focus on setting them up for success so that they have the best possible chance of being successful.”
- Talisa Lavarry. Tips for hiring more inclusively

You’ve sent over an offer, the candidate has accepted it, and you might feel like your work here is done, but that’s not how this works. 20% of all employee turnover happens during the first 45 days of employment. That’s why good onboarding is crucial. Here’s what you should do to make sure that your onboarding process is inclusive:

  • Provide a structured and thorough onboarding process. Your new hires need to learn which steps to take in a fun, engaging way.
  • Share practical information. For instance, disclose where to get an ID card, and how to enroll in health benefits.
  • Explain your code of conduct to your new hires, teach them the “workplace language”. This language consists of the acronyms your company uses for key processes or roles. A glossary of terms can help. Set and communicate performance goals from the get-go. These should be reiterated on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis.
  • Start with a generic overview of the organization before the role-specific training begins.
  • Help new hires build relationships:

    • Pair them with current employees through a buddy system.
    • Put them in touch with the “7-10 people — superiors, peers, direct reports, and internal and external customers — whose success they will contribute to, or who will contribute to their success”.
    • Assign mentors or involve “organizational heroes” who can connect with the new hires and share personal stories to engage and motivate them.
  • Encourage shared values without disrespecting individual experiences. The pressure to conform could be draining for talent from underrepresented groups.
  • Gather feedback at these marks: 3, 6, and 9 months.

1.11 Recruiting Internally... Inclusively

Tips for hiring more inclusively Did you know?
50.8% of the U.S. population are women, but 80.7% of Executive or senior-level officials and managers are men!

Don’t forget about the importance of internal recruiting. Are there obstacles to career progression for your talent from underrepresented groups? If so, fix them, and make sure to renew and communicate your efforts internally and externally. This applies to all levels of your organization.

Constant Learning: Invest In Bias Awareness Training

Tips for hiring more inclusively Pro tip
Diversity across organizational levels is an essential indicator of how inclusive your company really is. The representation of underrepresented groups at the top is crucial yet rare. Hire diverse talent and give them the chance to grow!

Continuously invest in bias awareness training for your recruiting staff. Bias is often unconscious, which makes it a particularly perilous threat. We’ve all used heuristics, or mental shortcuts, before. We’re usually unaware of it as we apply them, but they have consequences. These shortcuts we apply might benefit certain categories of candidates. There are at least 13 types of bias that affect recruiters, and training can help gain awareness and fight them whenever they arise. Bias awareness training should be offered on a regular basis.

And remember, you won’t have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps: we’re here to help.

Discover more about how we can support you: