Diversity in Recruitment: 6 Strategies for Inclusive Hiring

Published by:
Valerie Valmores
November 30, 2023
min read

Fostering diversity and inclusion in the workplace is more than just a commendable goal; it's a strategic imperative. 

As organisations recognise the immense value of diverse perspectives, experiences, and talents, the spotlight on diversity in recruitment processes shines brighter than ever. 

In this article:

Today, we’ll be exploring diversity and inclusion in the recruitment process, examining the significance of cultivating an inclusive workplace and outlining six powerful strategies to enhance your diversity recruitment efforts.

A diverse and inclusive workforce acts as an operation-boosting catalyst; it's a cornerstone for innovation, creativity, and sustained success.

So, whether you're a seasoned HR veteran or a burgeoning startup looking to establish inclusive practices from the outset, these strategies will guide you toward a more equitable and vibrant workplace. 

Diversity and inclusion in the recruitment process: Why does it matter? 

The call for diversity and inclusion is more than just a social responsibility.

Creating an inclusive workplace and cultivating a diverse workforce goes beyond ticking boxes or meeting quotas; it's about harnessing the power of differences to drive innovation, creativity, and sustainable success.

D&I has become an important ESG issue, it involves a commitment to fostering an environment where individuals from all walks of life feel valued, heard, and empowered, with the capacity for reasonable adjustments.

It's about recognising that diversity extends beyond visible characteristics – it encompasses varied backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives that, when woven together, create a tapestry of strength for any organisation.

Why does this matter in the recruitment process?

Because the foundation of a diverse and inclusive workforce starts with the hiring decisions made today. 

Organisations that embrace diversity are better positioned to attract top talent, and also to retain and engage their employees.

A diverse workforce brings a spectrum of skills and ideas, driving innovation and adaptability.

What is a diversity recruitment strategy? 

In the pursuit of building diverse and inclusive teams, a well-crafted diversity recruitment strategy (sometimes known as DRS) serves as the compass guiding organisations through the intricate terrain of talent acquisition. 

A diversity recruitment strategy is a deliberate and proactive approach to dismantling biases, ensuring equal opportunities, and fostering an environment where under-represented groups thrive.

DEI explained

Central to any effective diversity recruitment strategy is a commitment to DEI – diversity, equity, and Inclusion (DEI).

This is about acknowledging historical disparities, and actively working towards creating an environment where every individual, regardless of background or identity, has equal access to opportunities.

Empowering under-represented groups

Similarly, a robust diversity recruitment strategy prioritises the inclusion of under-represented groups, while acknowledging that true diversity extends beyond surface-level attributes. 

Whether addressing gender imbalances, supporting minority communities, or championing the rights of marginalised groups, an effective diversity recruitment strategy actively seeks to overcome these barriers.

Mitigating bias

Bias, whether conscious or unconscious, can seep into every stage of the recruitment process. A diversity recruitment strategy incorporates measures to identify, address, and mitigate biases, ensuring that hiring decisions are based on skills, qualifications, and potential rather than preconceived notions.

Equal opportunities

Ultimately, a DRS advocates for equal opportunities for every candidate, striving for an environment where meritocracy thrives. 

It's about dismantling systemic barriers and working toward a level playing field, ensuring that individuals are evaluated based on their abilities rather than societal biases or stereotypes.

As organisations embark on the journey of crafting their own diversity recruitment strategy, it's essential to view it as a dynamic, evolving framework.

A successful strategy is one that adapts to the changing landscape, continuously challenging assumptions, and embracing a commitment to creating a workplace that reflects the rich diversity and talents of the global community. 

Obstacles to diversity and inclusion in the hiring process 

In the pursuit of creating diverse and inclusive workplaces, it's crucial to acknowledge and address the obstacles that often impede progress. These hurdles not only hinder the development of a truly inclusive workforce but also necessitate a recalibration of diversity recruitment strategies.

Top-down absence of diversity

Leaders play a pivotal role in shaping the culture of an organisation – to make diversity initiatives impactful, they must champion the cause. 

Lack of diversity at the executive level can be a significant roadblock. A robust diversity recruitment strategy should not only focus on hiring diverse talent but also on creating pathways for under-represented individuals to ascend to leadership roles. 

This top-down commitment ensures that diversity is not just a checkbox but a fundamental value ingrained in the organisation's DNA.

Implicit job description bias

The concept of a 'culture fit' can inadvertently perpetuate stereotypes and limit the potential for diversity. 

A more refined strategy involves revising job descriptions to eliminate gendered or ageist language. 

Unconscious Bias During CV Reviews

Unconscious bias during the CV review process can result in the exclusion of qualified candidates.

Blind hiring, where personal information is excluded from the screening process, is a strategy that mitigates this challenge. Anonymisation ensures candidate receives a fair and unbiased evaluation based solely on their skills.

Neglecting inclusivity

Inclusivity is about more than just representation; it's about creating an environment where every individual feels valued and heard. A sound diversity recruitment strategy goes beyond quotas, emphasising inclusivity practices that foster a sense of belonging. 

Over-reliance on employee referrals

Employee referrals, while valuable, can inadvertently contribute to a lack of diversity. A well-rounded strategy acknowledges this potential pitfall and supplements referrals with proactive sourcing from diverse talent pools. 

6 strategies to improve diversity in the recruiting process

The heart of any organisation is its people, and the key to building a dynamic, innovative, and inclusive workforce starts with the recruitment process. 

A culture of diversity requires an intentional mindset.

To build a truly diverse workforce, organisations need to attract candidates from a variety of backgrounds and experiences without the impediment of bias.

From reimagining CV evaluations to fostering an inclusive work environment, the following strategies transcend traditional practices, ensuring that your organisation not only attracts diverse talent but nurtures an environment where every individual can thrive.

1. Use name-blind, anonymised CVs

Breaking free from unconscious bias begins at the first glance of a resume. By adopting name-blind, anonymised CVs, you remove identifying information, ensuring that initial assessments are grounded in skills rather than qualifications or education. This strategy sets the stage for a more inclusive and equitable hiring journey

Inclusive CV screening tools are designed to address this challenge; through the clever use of tech, they assess not only task-based skills but also soft skills, identifying genuine and quality talent. 

The result is a more comprehensive and unbiased screening process, ensuring that every candidate, regardless of background, has an equal opportunity to showcase their potential.

2. Implement structured interviews

The interview process is, of course, a pivotal juncture, and another opportunity for biases to inadvertently seep in. Unstructured interviews are prone to bias, leading to inconsistent evaluations.

However, structured interviews provide a standardised framework that evaluates candidates objectively based on specific criteria.

This contributes to an unbiased, skills-based recruitment environment. It offers a transparent view of how candidates think and work, and how well they align with the organisation's objectives.

3. Be aware of DEI laws and regulations

When it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), staying informed about laws and regulations is paramount. You need to be proactive in understanding and complying with DEI legislation, creating a foundation that supports fair hiring practices.

4. Attract a diverse pool of candidates with inclusive job descriptions

Crafting inclusive job descriptions is a critical step in attracting diverse talent. Job description analysis tools help identify gendered coding, reading burden, acronyms, and other elements that may create barriers for certain demographics.

In so doing, organisations cast a wider net, increasing the diversity of the candidate pool right from the start.

The language you use in job advertisements plays a crucial role in attracting a diverse candidate pool. Transparent diversity and inclusion commitments involves being mindful of: 

  • Inclusive language that resonates with a broad audience
  • Eliminating gendered language
  • Emphasising equal opportunities
  • Underscoring a non-judgemental, welcoming culture
  • Reaffirming accessibility protocols
  • Openness to reasonable adjustments

Try our job description analysis tool for free → 

5. Implement cognitive ability tests

Technology has opened doors to a more nuanced understanding of candidates' abilities. While we wouldn’t necessarily recommend all forms of psychometric assessment, cognitive ability testing – a cornerstone in modern recruitment – can yield insights into candidates' capabilities to ensure a fair and objective evaluation.

Mapped, for example, was designed with input from investment bankers, strategy consultants, and behavioural scientists. It focuses on numerical, analytical, and problem-solving skills, which are crucial for analytical and commercial roles. Mapped utilises innovative behavioural science to ensure equal opportunities regardless of ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic background.

6. Cultivate an inclusive work environment 

Remember: promoting an inclusive work environment goes beyond the recruitment process. It's about creating a culture where diversity is not only celebrated but embedded in every aspect of the organisation.

From flexible working arrangements to inclusive workplace policies and mentoring programs, this strategy ensures that diversity is not just a checkbox but a lived experience for every employee.

Measuring success

Diversity in recruitment success is a holistic journey. To improve, you need to measure progress, and continually seek to improve various barometers of the employee lifecycle. This is the best way to successfully build a diverse team.

Diversity of applicants vs diversity of hires

A genuinely successful strategy should result in a hiring process that mirrors the diversity of the wider talent pool. By meticulously measuring how many candidates from diverse backgrounds progress through the screening and hiring process, you’ll gain a granular understanding of potential biases. 

Are certain groups disproportionately screened out at specific stages?

This data unveils trends indicative of unconscious bias, empowering organisations to refine their processes and ensure a fair and equitable pathway from application to hire.

Book a demo of our DEI reporting tool now → 

Staff retention

By dissecting retention data across demographics, you can unearth patterns that guide targeted interventions. Do certain groups experience shorter tenures, for instance? 

Qualitative information, gathered through anonymous surveys and third-party apps, complements this data, while employee feedback provides nuanced insights into engagement levels and the factors influencing departure decisions.

Diversity in leadership roles

Examining diversity across organisational hierarchies reveals whether diversity permeates the entire structure, or if it remains concentrated in certain roles. Homogeneity at the top can signal barriers that hinder upward mobility; organisations committed to true diversity ensure representation from entry-level positions to managerial roles and key decision-makers.

Equal Pay

The gender pay gap is a stark example of how biases can manifest in salary distribution. Organisations committed to promoting equality understand that addressing the gender pay gap is not just a matter of complying with regulations; it is a fundamental step toward creating a workplace that values diversity and inclusion. These organisations recognise that the consequences of an unequal pay structure extends beyond individual employees; they contribute to broader societal issues, perpetuating systemic inequalities.

Staff wellbeing

Beyond the numbers, staff engagement surveys are a rich source of diversity and inclusion insights. 

Voluntary disclosure of diversity factors (such as age, gender, or race) ensures that the data is comprehensive and representative. These surveys probe deeper into the employee experience, addressing concerns such as feeling valued, confidence in leadership, and fair recognition. 

Nurturing diversity for a resilient future 

More than just an ESG obligation, diversity in the recruitment process is a bedrock of innovation, resilience, and sustained success.

Success, though, is not a destination so much as a continuous journey of refinement and commitment.

As a final thought, we’d recommend aiming for a holistic approach: one that transcends numerical metrics to unpack the intricacies and realities of employee experience, organisation-wide.

From the initial application to leadership roles, from salaries to staff wellbeing – every element contributes to, or detracts from, the tapestry of a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Ultimately, diversity in recruiting is about dismantling barriers, addressing biases, and fostering a workplace where every individual feels seen, heard, and valued.

To see Applied in action with a free demo, book a call with us today. 


What is a diversity recruitment strategy?

A diversity recruitment strategy is a proactive and intentional approach to attracting, hiring, and retaining a diverse pool of talent. It involves targeted efforts and practices to ensure fair representation and inclusivity in the hiring process, fostering a workplace that reflects the richness of diverse experiences and backgrounds.

Why is it important to have a diversity recruitment strategy?

A diversity recruitment strategy is crucial for cultivating an inclusive and innovative workplace. It not only enhances organisational performance by tapping into a broad spectrum of skills and perspectives but also contributes to a positive company culture, attracting top talent and fostering employee engagement.

How can technology support diversity and inclusion in recruiting? 

Technology has emerged as a transformative force in recruitment, reshaping traditional practices and addressing common pitfalls that hinder diversity and inclusion. Tools such as anonymised CV screening and job description analysis help mitigate biases, create fair evaluation processes, and contribute to building a diverse workforce.

How can I measure diversity in the recruiting process?

Measuring diversity in the recruiting process involves tracking the representation of individuals from different backgrounds at various stages – from application to hiring. Key metrics include the diversity of applicants versus hires, staff retention across demographics, and the distribution of diversity across organisational levels. Regular surveys and feedback mechanisms also provide valuable qualitative insights.