How to build an inclusive workforce

Inclusion in the workplace is fast becoming one of the most important factors candidates consider when deciding whether to accept a job offer, but what can you do to build an inclusive workforce?

How to build an inclusive workforce Feature

Inclusion in the workplace is fast becoming one of the most important factors candidates consider when deciding whether to accept a job offer. Many will turn a position down if they feel that the work environment is not diverse enough and that will put you back to finding someone new to hire!


Many companies now create a bespoke equality and diversity policy to promote inclusivity both internally and externally, but policy alone is not enough. A visual representation of what you've committed to paper is a powerful message that shows you mean what you say and that inclusivity is a priority for you!


A positive and inclusive environment that embraces diversity, engagement, and belonging starts with your recruitment process. There's a range of ways to ensure that your recruitment process is as inclusive as possible. Let’s look at some key points that you should consider when building an inclusive workforce.


Before you even advertise your new vacancy, you will need to write an inclusive job description. From the language you use to the criteria you set, everything needs double-checking. One of the biggest offenders of not being inclusive within the job description is language. As a company, you may talk to each other in technical terms that make perfect sense internally but could confuse and alienate potential candidates. Within your job descriptions, it is best to avoid jargon and use everyday language - candidates need to understand what you’re looking for from the start, they can learn your business language later!


If you’re uncertain whether your job descriptions are using inclusive language why not ask someone not connected to your business to read and see if they understand what you are trying to convey, if they do then great you’re on your way to inclusive recruitment.


Once you’ve nailed your job descriptions, it's time to move on and review the application process. There are two key areas to focus on when it comes to candidates applying - where they are finding your adverts in the first place and whether your application process is inclusive.


Think about where you are advertising your current roles. Are you using the top generic job boards, or have you branched out and looked at boards that appeal to a more diverse range of prospective candidates? When trying to target your adverts not only think about online job boards but what you can do offline too - think about existing employees and recommend a friend incentives. They are a great way to get the word out about current vacancies via those who know the company the best.


Once you have identified the job boards that can get your adverts to the wider talent pool, it's time to think about the application process. Do you expect candidates to email in a CV or are you utilising an applicant tracking system? An applicant tracking system is designed to make the recruitment process more streamlined, for both candidates and yourself, allowing everyone to easily move through the recruitment process. But, did you know many applicant tracking systems are not inclusive?


Many application methods are straightforward for able-bodied people to apply, but what about those who need additional help that want to apply for a role without having to rely on friends or family to assist them? You may not realise this, but a large portion of potential candidates may not be able to apply for a role. At Reach, our recruitment software ensures that candidates with disabilities or cognitive/learning difficulties can use their candidate portal to apply and manage their applications in the same way as those without a disability. From screen readers to keyboard accessibility, Reach allows your company to be inclusive with your application process and allows you to fulfil your equality and diversity policy.


With your application process now firmly in place, it's time to take a look at how you can make your shortlisting more inclusive. You may have strict criteria when shortlisting candidates but what if unconscious bias sees you eliminate candidates who would be perfect for the role? To help you make your shortlisting more inclusive why not look at blind shortlisting? Blind shortlisting sees candidates' personal details removed from their application so all you are left with is their skill set and experience - the details that matter. By eliminating details such as name, date of birth, and location you can select the best candidate for the role regardless of their background.


With shortlisting complete and interviews arranged for the best candidates for your roles, it’s time to prepare to meet your candidates. Preparation is the key to any successful interview especially if you want them to be inclusive.


If you’re conducting the interview online, test that the technology is fully working and you’re in a quiet room where you won’t be disturbed. Alternatively, if you’re holding face-to-face interviews, make sure the room is prepared, check with candidates if they have any accessibility requirements, and they have a clear understanding of where to attend.  


To give each candidate the same opportunity, it's always worth having the same basic set of questions so you can give each candidate the same opportunity to answer and showcase their skills. It also means that you can actively listen to what is being said without having to think about the next question.


Inclusive recruitment can have a positive impact on diversity within your business and shows that you take your equality and diversity policies seriously and will do everything you can to be a business leading the way.


Reach can help you work towards being an inclusive company through our applicant tracking system, from ensuring everyone can apply for a role with you through our accessibility tools to shortlisting candidates, we can work with you to create a more inclusive recruitment process. Call 01527 574408 to speak to one of our team who can help talk you through what our recruitment software can do and why it can help you.

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"I would totally recommend Reach to another organisation. The level of support we get and the responsiveness is incredible. For us, it's been a total success..."

Tony Peers - HR Director