I’ll start this newsletter by opening a can of worms: it’s not your recruiter’s responsibility to make your workplace a more diverse and inclusive environment.
Creating an inclusive and diverse workplace starts way before you even pick up the phone. An employer needs to actually demonstrate they are a company that has an inclusive environment.
So where do you start?
A first and important step is to ensure that you actually have a diversity policy in place, then to follow the steps it suggests.
An employer cannot say to a recruiter, “go and find me someone from an underrepresented minority” – that’s positive discrimination and it is illegal (unless you do have a Genuine Occupational Reason (GOR). But hiring teams could say that “ideally, we are looking to be more inclusive”, and they need to be conscious of the terminology they are using and where they are posting their job adverts. There is software that can analyse your job advert and suggest more inclusive wording. There is even a standard phrase that you can add to your job adverts to ensure they are seen as inclusive – drop me an email and I’ll send it to you.
If a company does not have a diverse social network, then it stands to reason that a job advert posted on the company LinkedIn page will only be seen by their non-diverse network. A company can reach out and tap into existing diverse networks and ensure that the job advert is shared by people already focused on diversity such as Gabrielle Austen-Browne (she/her) of Diversity Alliance ®, Keneisha Williams at Black In Events Network Mae Yip at ERIC or Priya Narain at Diverse Speaker Bureau.
Another great industry initiative is the REACH Events Scholarship I co-founded; it provides a fund for Black, Asian and underrepresented minority students to study on events management degree programmes, providing a £5,000 a year scholarship to support with living expenses. The funds are donated by agencies, venues and suppliers within the industry who each pledge £5,000 a year for three years. If a company really wants to create a diverse environment, then a tax-deductible pledge to REACH would really help (sorry, not sorry for the blatant plug!).
The careers page on a company website is really important and will convey a lot to a potential employee. Don’t leave things to chance; if you have a predominantly white team, but are genuinely looking to change this, a simple statement could counter this by stating “90% of our workforce is white, we are looking to be a more inclusive,” or consider a general EDIstatement saying “we welcome applications from everyone.” An employer needs to be clear and upfront, otherwise potential employees could look at the page and assume that the working environment will not include them.
Here’s a real-life example. A long time ago, I was a new starter at an agency. I was given some employment policies to read on my first day. A Black colleague of mine had also been some employment policies, but he’d also been given the agency’s EDI policy to read, I hadn’t.
Inclusivity is for everyone, not just underrepresented minorities.
It’s not all bad though and I don’t want to be critical of companies that are making an effort; I just think that EDI has to run through everything a company does, it won’t be ‘solved’ by making a quick hire.