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What impact can recruitment professionals make on diversity and inclusion?

By Martin King

As a recruitment professional you hold the key to people’s careers. You can change people’s lives and make their dreams a reality. On a daily basis, it doesn’t always feel like that’s the case as you manage targets and get through the mammoth workload. But this is the power you hold.

The same power applies for truly creating more diverse and inclusive organisations through your practice as an individual professional and with the firm you work for.

February is Pride Month, and a great time to think about the diversity and inclusion strategies we are incorporating in our day-to-day lives and how we can make changes to ensure we are doing all we can to support and promote diversity through our agencies.

Sourcing and Attracting Diverse Talent

At a basic level, we know we need to target the most diverse talent we can by casting the net as wide as possible. Key to attracting more diverse talent is ensuring you remove the barriers and fish in new ponds.

So, let’s not overthink what diversity is. Instead, I ask you to consider how often you are encouraged by your client to apply traditional methods of recruitment but expect a different result. Are your clients interested in investing in more diversified sourcing and attraction strategies?

Then, ask yourself what you can do to change this. What other talent sources could generate exciting and diverse talent for future hires? What are some of the options you can put on the table to change your client’s minds? And what policy can you incorporate which sets a clear expectation with your clients? I recommend having some case studies and data to support your recommendations.

Knowing your Client

One of the keys to being a great recruitment professional is getting really intimate with your client. Get to know the client organisation inside and out, including their culture and values and really begin to feel like part of their team.

Ask yourself, do you know your client well enough? What do you know about their Diversity and Inclusion policies, program or strategy, and how does this impact the way you recruit for them? Do you know your client well enough to really say they value diversity and inclusion, or is it just a tick box?

I say it’s time to start asking more questions.

Ask your clients for their policy on Gender Diversity, Equal Pay, Flexible Working and programmes around LGBT+ inclusion, disability enablement, ethnic diversity and the like.

Do your clients have data to back up their policies? For example, they may have engagement survey results around inclusion and diversity.

If not, then you have your work cut out, but this is a great chance for you to partner with your client and offer advice and support. I would suggest that if your candidates aren’t asking you for this information, then they should be, and certainly will be if they really care about who they are applying to work for.

Remember, you need to be walking the talk as a professional and a firm too, so ensure that your policies are available, clear and alive and well for anyone to access!

Ensuring an inclusive process from the start

Ensuring the most diverse talent applies for the role is the start. But the hardest work is to then ensure you have an inclusive process from the time the applicant uploads their CV through to the client interview process.

Traditional processes and approaches may ‘spit out’ the best and most diverse talent. They simply won’t fit the traditional recruitment mould. Have you taken a step back to look at your processes, systems, forms and interview questions, and question whether you really know and trust your client’s process?

In my experience, clients can often pass down generation after generation of inexperienced manager’s bad habits, inappropriate and illegal questions and stuffy, and often intimidating, interviewing and selection processes.

So, what should you do about it?

Get to know your client’s process inside out. Ask your candidates for feedback – and then build this into feedback to your clients. It’s time to add value and provide recommendations to your clients for them to maximise the recruitment process.

This might take time but could be key for you in deepening your client relationship and for your client to start seeing you as their trusted advisor, not ‘just a recruiter’.

Martin King is a leader in Diversity and Inclusion with more 20 years’ experience in Human Resources and a strong passion for talent. Martin is now the Director of Pride Pledge which focuses on Rainbow safety, inclusion, and visibility throughout New Zealand.

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