Diversity and inclusion policies should be a core consideration at every stage of the recruitment journey. Candidate experience is crucial to the success of any recruitment agency, with an inclusive experience boosting the chance of securing excellent candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds.
20% of working adults in the UK have a disability, while British citizens from ethnic minority backgrounds must send 60% more job applications than their white counterparts to get a positive response from employers. Recruitment firms should take this into account, making positive changes to their websites to tackle the underrepresentation of minority groups in the workforce.
Inclusive Website Design
Start by considering your own experiences. Get comfortable with your own job search privilege and consider the lack of barriers that you may have experienced. This likely unconsciously influenced the choices you made when designing your website and candidate journey, in turn creating barriers to access for those whose experiences differ from yours.
Breaking down these barriers begins with a strong message of inclusion signaling that all candidates are welcome. Recruitment is a people-driven process, meaning that your website is likely dominated by people-centric imagery. Consider the types of people that dominate those images and ensure that you are using imagery that represents a broad range of candidates. It is also important that your website’s language is examined with a fine-tooth comb, removing anything that is offensive or exclusionary. These are critical steps in attracting quality diverse talent.
Once a candidate has explored your website, your job adverts become the deciding factor for a job seeker to apply for a role. Recruiters must therefore ensure that adverts are open to all. This begins with job requirements, in which you should minimize must-haves and avoid jargon or gender-specific language. Women tend not to apply for roles if they don’t meet all requirements, for example, and avoid roles advertised with masculine gender pronouns. This is another area where language should be examined meticulously to avoid exclusion.
Job adverts are also about showing off! Demonstrate a commitment to closing pay gaps by displaying salaries. Omitting this information discourages applicants who are typically less likely to request higher pay, such as women and ethnic minorities. Add inclusive benefits such as childcare provisions and flexible working to highlight your client’s dedication to hiring candidates with a variety of experiences. Finally, this is the time to talk about any existing diversity and inclusion commitments your client has made; diverse candidates are much more likely to apply for companies that have proven inclusive values.
Your website may feature equity statements on the front page, but backing this up with a one-size-fits-all application process designed around the majority is a huge misstep.
Disability is a spectrum, meaning everyone’s digital needs differ. One way to make technology work well for people with disabilities is to follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which are the global standards for accessibility online. These should be followed up with human testing, if possible, with these questions being a good starting point:
- Eyes and ears. In the case of audio-visual content, subtitles ensure that candidates with hearing loss do not miss out on any key information. For images, you should include useful alt text, which provides a description of the image so that candidates with visual impairments can hear the detail of your images through a screen reader.
- Color usage. Using color alone as a way of distinguishing content means that candidates who suffer from sight loss will be unable to recognize those distinctions. You should opt for patterns, meaningful semantics or formatting to highlight critical information, such as hyperlinked text.
- Form clarity. Forms are essential to the recruitment journey; candidates who are excluded from using them cannot access your services. Include instructions to help candidates understand how to complete your forms, as well as labels to support candidates who are using speech input or screen readers to access your website.
These are the first steps in the journey of making your website more accessible, which contributes significantly to improving the candidate experience for those from all backgrounds. When combined with building a diverse and inclusive shop window and job adverts, recruitment agencies will be able give a strong first impression and build a more diverse talent pool.