Why Inclusion is the most important facet of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs have been in place since the 1960’s in the employment landscape. However, in the last few years, companies have begun implementing it as a core business function. According to a report from McKinsey, companies with diverse workforces have financially outperformed non diverse workforces by 36%. The business case for increasing diversity is an easy sell because the numbers don’t lie; but it’s not diversity leading those outcomes, it’s inclusion.

If a company commits to diversity goals without thoughtful regard of inclusivity, it could well have a diverse workforce without inclusion. So, what does inclusion look like in the workplace? There are many ways a company can impart an inclusive culture, but let’s focus on what recruiters can do to ensure inclusive hiring practices. 

Understand how the company defines diversity.

Diversity can be viewed from many lenses whether its gender, age, ability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, veteran, or education. 

Prep questions for the hiring manager at the beginning of a search.

To ensure alignment with diversity and inclusion goals, ask questions about what skills the hiring manager needs to complement the existing team that goes beyond the job description. For instance, would the hiring manager be open to interviewing a disabled candidate if they knew the candidate may only have an associate degree? In addition, ask the hiring manager to describe what the decision-making process is like on their current team? Does everyone have a voice at the table? This is an important piece of information that will inform your recruitment outreach strategy. 

Explore what the interview process will look like for candidates.

To ensure an inclusive candidate experience, ask the hiring manager to commit to having a diverse set of voices in the interview panel. In addition, ask about whether there is an objective rubric that all interviewers will use to rate candidates’ qualifications. As a recruiter, ask to sit in on candidate debriefs so that you can track the diversity outcomes throughout the recruiting process. 

Disrupt unconscious bias daily.

Everyone carries unconscious bias and to disrupt it requires daily practice. Whether its sourcing for passive candidates or reviewing applications, challenge your beliefs about what an ideal LinkedIn profile or resume should include. According to Talenya’s diversity report, women tend to write 59% less text on their LinkedIn profiles and resumes than men. The same challenge should extend to the initial recruiter interview. Marcie Ciampi, a neurodiversity educator explains that neurodiverse candidates do best in interviews when they are given detailed information about the process up front. The best tool for disrupting bias is partnering with a colleague where you can have transparent and humble conversations when you feel your unconscious bias needs checked. 

Investigate what your employer brand says to potential employees.

Prior to posting the job description, spend time on the company website to understand how candidates see the company as it relates to inclusion. Does the company highlight Employer Resource Groups, display inclusive employee images, and openly share its diversity and inclusion goals? The employer brand also extends to the language used in job descriptions and email campaigns. Recruiters can use inclusive language tools like Textio and Joblint which check for language bias and offer suggestions that improve inclusive content.

There is a popular analogy about DEI that says, “Diversity is being welcomed to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” This analogy misses a crucial step in the recruiting process which is, who is doing the inviting? Together, recruiters and hiring managers can work to bring inclusive practices into the hiring process that answers that question to which we say, Everyone. 

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