9 November 2021

How to build a more diverse and inclusive hiring programme

Rod McMillan of Monster Jobs shares seven ways you can improve your hiring strategy – starting with an honest assessment of where your organisation is now


Rod McMillan

Rod McMillan


Diversity and inclusion Recruitment and retention


Rod McMillan of Monster Jobs shares seven ways you can improve your hiring strategy – starting with an honest assessment of where your organisation is now

Diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) hiring is nothing new, but the events of recent years have put such initiatives into overdrive. With social justice campaigns highlighting systemic issues and the global pandemic amplifying existing inequalities, today’s candidates demand more inclusive workplaces, which starts with fairer hiring practices.

‘Diversity in recruitment’ means giving underrepresented groups access to the same opportunities. There are significant challenges in equality across race, age, gender, gender identity, disability and more.  Research supports the claim that companies that commit to diversity are more productive, more innovative, and more successful.

There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. Organisations must become engaged in a continual process of reflection and refinement and here are seven ways they can do so:

1. Look inward first

Before you can start building a diversity strategy you need to understand your status quo.  Once you know where you are, and where you want to be, you can define your actions and measures. What does your current population look like? What are your hiring habits and practices? Understanding these, then undertaking regular evaluations will help you to make continued improvements.

2. Challenge unconscious bias

While you want to hire candidates whose core values align with the business, you need to avoid being culturally homogeneous. Unconscious bias gives a preference to candidates with similar cultural backgrounds and experiences. This can harm the resilience of your business. Having a smaller variety of viewpoints will decrease innovation. Data is critical here; collecting and analysing information throughout the recruitment process will help drive merit-based and fair decisions.

3. Create more inclusive recruitment communications

Whether we’re writing a job description, a social post or planning an interview, we all have a responsibility to ensure recruitment communications and processes are unbiased and inclusive. Start with the language, then look at images and accessibility.

4. Avoid gendered language

If candidates assume the role is better suited for another gender, you will miss out on quality hires. There are obvious gendered terms like “doorman” or “barmaid”, but also ‘female-coded’ words such as agree, empathise, sensitive, affectionate, feel, support, collaborate, honest, trust and commit, and ‘male-coded’ words such as aggressive, confident, fearless, ambitious, decisive, head-strong, and assertive. Have a look at some of the free ‘gender decoder’ tools online that will highlight areas to check.

5. Win over experienced workers

The UK is challenged with an aging workforce. Nearly a third of workers are over 50, and the average age is increasing. Some best practices for avoiding age discrimination include making sure your employer branding reflects a wide range of the age of workers at your company. Also avoid loaded phrases such as “young and energetic”, “Gen-Z”, and “party atmosphere”.

6. Be inclusive of workers with disabilities

Make sure your job postings are welcoming to workers of all abilities by advertising when there are accommodations like flexible hours or tele-work policies that would appeal to workers with disabilities. Let applicants know your workplace welcomes and values all candidates with phrasing like: “Ability to complete tasks with or without reasonable accommodations.” Instead of writing “Access to your own vehicle required”, try “Access to reliable transportation”, which is more inclusive to people with disabilities. Consider the formatting as well – are your adverts compatible with things like screen-readers, and can candidates with visual impairments increase the font size or switch to a high-contrast view?

7. Infuse DEI into your employer branding

Finding ways to highlight your company’s commitment to inclusive hiring, equal pay, and support for underrepresented groups can help prospective candidates see that your DEI strategy is more than a few bullet points on your career site. Adding a statement like the below to your adverts can encourage more diverse applications.

 “We’re an equal opportunities employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to ethnicity, colour, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status. Minorities, women, LGBTQ+ candidates, and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply.”

These initial steps can help you start to address this challenge.

Rod McMillan is the marketing manager at Monster, a global leader in connecting people and jobs. For more information, research, and advice from HR experts, download Monster’s free whitepaper, How to build a more inclusive hiring program.