Sometimes there’s a belief that an individual—regardless of background, identity or lived experience—will naturally be hired if they are the best qualified and that there’s no need to look for ways to make our systems more equitable. But is this the case?
Many of our practices were designed to meet the needs of homogenous workforces. While on the surface they appear fair, they may contain hidden barriers or be implemented inequitably due to unconscious biases. This can impede the ability of members of diverse talent groups from fully engaging in our workplaces.
With our workforce diversity increasing, leading employers are not focusing on “fitting in” employees from diverse talent groups. Rather, employers are looking into new hire needs and experiences to identify what adjustments can be made to support and welcome them.
Removing barriers to inclusion is not special treatment. Women, Indigenous peoples, newcomers, visible minorities, and persons with disabilities, amongst others, can only gain traction when both an organization’s culture and practices are inclusive.
Making recruitment more equitable will give candidates a positive impression of our organization, help us be confident that we’re making the best decision, and will more likely result in the best possible hire.
Are your recruiting and hiring practices optimized to hire the best candidates?
How to Be Inclusive in Hiring
- Avoid restrictive requirements: Instead of “five years working as a Control Room Supervisor”, ask for “experience supervising others in an industrial context”. Be open to “relevant experience” and “equivalent qualifications”.
- Assess ‘fit” in a behavioural way: To avoid ‘cloning’, instead of looking at why someone is a “good fit”, identify reasons for a “poor fit” linking back to your selection criteria.
- Offer accommodation at all key stages: Your duty to accommodate applies to both potential and current employees – highlight it in job ads, when inviting a candidate to an interview or test, and when making an offer. Remember that accommodation is not “one size fits all”.
- Be informed about the diversity of candidate needs: Find out what candidates are looking for by including a few questions in your application process, consulting your in-house Employee Resource Groups, or asking interviewees.
The Paradox of Meritocracy
Research has indicated5 that, ironically, working in an environment that promotes meritocracy (versus not doing so) might make individuals believe that they are fair and objective. In one study, managers favoured men over equally performing women in translating employee performance evaluations into rewards and other key career outcomes. Limiting managerial discretion, and increasing accountability and transparency can counter any possible inequities.