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What is inclusive recruitment?

Written by: RICS Recruit
Published on: 26 Mar 2024

Inclusive recruitment is a hiring process designed to attract and retain the most diverse group of candidates possible. This approach helps businesses build an effective workforce with colleagues from various demographics and a range of expertise and experience.

As RICS head of diversity, equity and inclusion Sybil Taunton explains: ‘From beginning to end, an inclusive recruitment process focuses on being fair and accessible to the maximum amount of people. By checking your own biases, you give each candidate a fair shot at succeeding in their application.’

Making hiring processes inclusive is becoming increasingly non-negotiable for businesses in the built environment sector. Put simply, if a recruitment process isn’t inclusive then companies will not find the most skilled and experienced people for that particular role.

With the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CiPD) reporting that 72% of employers are now making at least one change to improve the inclusivity of their recruitment, investing in this area is key to attracting the best talent and boosting a company’s performance.

How can you make recruitment more inclusive?

The first stage in making your business’s recruitment process more inclusive is understanding what this means, and how it looks in reality.

This involves crafting a job description that attracts and is visible to a wider talent pool; offering reasonable adjustments in the advert for candidates during interviews and in the job itself; working with HR and hiring managers internally to understand their potential unconscious biases; including a diverse panel in the interview process; and being open to feedback from all candidates.

Being able to identify the opposite of inclusive recruitment practices – exclusive processes, behaviours and biases that stop progress – is also useful. Some features of biased and inequitable recruitment include:

  • a mismatch in expectations for a role between HR, hiring managers and recruitment consultants
  • making assumptions based on an individual’s gender, race, name or disability, to list a few characteristics
  • a lack of flexibility over interview timelines and formats; e.g. a business refuses to allow a working parent to have a virtual interview at a time that suits them
  • not setting clear hiring criteria, or judging candidates based on their personality traits rather than skills or expertise
  • making assumptions about a candidate’s right to work or accessibility requirements
  • using biased or inequitable language in job descriptions or interview questions.

Reviewing your company’s hiring process for areas of exclusivity will help you fix these and prioritise any improvements. These changes could include:

  • running regular inclusivity training for all employees
  • ensuring any interview questions are set and shared with candidates in advance so they have the best opportunity of answering successfully
  • creating job adverts that are clear, concise and easily viewed by everyone, including neurodivergent individuals or those with visual impairments
  • removing personal details such as gender, dates and names from CVs before reviewing
  • developing skills-based scorecards to assess a candidate’s suitability at each stage of the process
  • sharing job adverts on sites with a more diverse following, such as social media communities or disability-focused job boards.

Measuring the impact of these changes through candidate data and employee surveys can help you make continuous progress. It will ensure your business keeps building a diverse workforce, and enjoys the benefits this brings.

Why is inclusive recruitment important?

Inclusive recruitment is important because it opens up new opportunities and benefits for both candidates and businesses.

Candidates afforded equitable treatment

When they apply to businesses with inclusive recruitment processes, candidates can be confident of being treated equitably. By judging on the basis of their skills and experience rather than their physical abilities, neurodivergence, or demographic or social background, inclusive hiring sets each candidate up for success.

With the right support at each stage, applicants can perform at their best and demonstrate their skills and expertise confidently. This makes the process a much more positive and constructive experience. So even if they aren’t offered the job, they can know they were treated fairly and take constructive feedback into future applications.

Businesses expand reach and enhance reputation

There are a range of advantages for both SMEs and larger businesses in making their recruitment processes more inclusive. First, increasing the size of the talent pool they can hire from means companies can tap into a higher quality of applicants. This makes filling skills gaps much easier.

The built environment sector in particular is currently experiencing skills shortages. These in turn ramp up costs and delay projects. But by following inclusive recruitment practices, companies can help redress this by finding skills in diverse areas.

By making the recruitment process better for candidates, you will also give your business a good reputation in the sector. As a result, the best talent is more likely to apply for your roles. Being kind to your applicants will enhance your image among prospects and customers too.

For many companies, improving the inclusivity of recruitment is just the beginning of wider investments in equity, diversity and inclusion. Starting from this position, businesses can build a more positive workplace culture that significantly improves employee engagement. This alone will increase staff retention rates.

Plus, when companies hire applicants based on their skills and set clearer criteria in job descriptions, successful candidates are more likely to be well suited to their respective roles. This will lead to better job satisfaction and mean they’re more likely to stay with a business for longer.

Finally, by increasing the inclusivity of recruitment, businesses will create a more diverse workforce. Alongside a balanced skill set and wide range of experience, this makes your team more likely to develop fresh ideas and perspectives – an essential factor in the growth, resilience and competitiveness of your business.