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Embracing Diversity. A Guide to Inclusive Recruitment

Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) is not just an ethical imperative; it’s a strategic advantage for businesses in an increasingly diverse, competitive, and interconnected world.

EDI is a challenge for all businesses. It is top of the agenda for large companies, and although smaller businesses understand its importance, they are not as sure how to address it when it comes to recruitment.

An EDI-led approach opens doors to more talent.  Candidates are increasingly attracted to companies that value and prioritise inclusion, innovation, development, and individual well-being.

It is in everyone’s interest to attract the best talent to their business; for this reason, we’ve put together a 5-step process to guide you.

Let’s start with the Person Specification.


When embarking on the journey to find the ideal candidate for a position, it's crucial to ensure that the Person Specification aligns with the role's demands and promotes inclusivity and diversity. The focus should be on defining the key behaviours and competencies to the role's success. This approach helps move beyond superficial criteria for a candidate's background, personality, or character traits.

Here are some practical tips to help you create an effective Person Specification:

1.       Streamline Requirements

Focus on including only the essential criteria directly contributing to the role's success. This ensures a clear and concise specification that candidates can accurately assess themselves against.

2. Regularly Update Specifications

It's essential to ensure that the Person Specification reflects the current needs and values of the company. Regular reviews will help keep the document relevant and aligned with the company’s goals.

3.       Re-evaluate Education and Training Requirements

Think about the necessity of specific qualifications. Consider whether alternative experiences or competencies could equally demonstrate a candidate's ability to succeed in the role. This can broaden the talent pool and support social mobility.

4.       Adopt Inclusive Language

Use neutral language in the person specification to avoid implying bias towards a particular gender, nationality, or physical ability. Inclusive language helps in attracting a diverse range of applicants.

5.       Salary Details

Make sure you publish the salary or salary range in the person specification. This encourages fair and equal pay.

Once you’ve put together your Person Specification, it’s time to advertise the Vacancy.


Crafting and strategically placing your job advertisement is pivotal in attracting a broad spectrum of candidates, especially those from underrepresented and marginalised backgrounds.

A compelling job advert should extend beyond the basic job requirements. It should provide potential candidates with a clear understanding of the company’s organisational culture, values, and commitments, particularly in EDI, employee well-being, and social responsibility. Authentic representation is key to avoiding the pitfalls of overstatement or tokenism.

When detailing the benefits of the role, emphasise your dedication to EDI. This not only attracts candidates but also signals a supportive work environment. Also, make a clear statement in your advert encouraging applications from underrepresented and minority groups.

If you broaden your advertising strategy beyond traditional platforms like LinkedIn, you are more likely to tap into diverse talent pools.

Communicate your efforts to attract diverse talent and how you facilitate an inclusive workplace for all employees, including those with disabilities.

Next, think about the language you’re using.


Adopting inclusive and respectful language throughout the recruitment process and ongoing employee interactions is fundamental in setting a welcoming tone for potential candidates. Carefully considering the impact of language can significantly boost your capacity to attract a broad spectrum of talent by ensuring your communications are free from unintended biases.

Conducting thorough reviews of all recruitment materials is vital to identify and amend any content that may inadvertently favour certain groups over others. The essence of maintaining specificity in language lies in its power to minimise biases, making the recruitment process more equitable. Often laden with subtle cues, language can unknowingly transmit exclusive signals, mainly through gender-coded words, which can skew the perception and appeal of a job opportunity.

Gender-coded language, where specific terms resonate more closely with masculine or feminine traits, can inadvertently deter applicants who do not identify with these characteristics. Recognising and addressing the use of such language is crucial in crafting inclusive and unbiased content. Here are examples of gender-coded words that could influence the inclusiveness of job advertisements:

Masculine-coded terms: competitive, aggressive, challenge, decisive, courage/courageous, dominate, champion, driven, fearless.

Feminine-coded terms: collaborate/collaborative, dependable, honest, loyal, interpersonal, enthusiasm/enthusiastic, committed, connected, patient.

Moreover, the frequent use of superlatives like 'superior' and 'world-class' can also contribute to narrowing the field of potential applicants by setting unnecessarily high or vague standards that might discourage well-qualified candidates from applying.

Finally, ensure that everyone involved in the recruitment process knows the importance of inclusive language and is trained to recognise and avoid biases in their communications.

Once you’ve put these steps in place, it’s time to start thinking about improving the selection and hiring processes.


Refining the selection and hiring processes aims to ensure that every candidate has a rewarding experience. This adds value for all parties involved and maximises the chances of the most suitable candidates receiving and accepting job offers. Achieving this goal requires a deliberate effort to fulfil commitments to inclusive recruitment practices, ensuring every candidate feels supported throughout the process.

It is essential to understand each candidate's unique needs, facilitating the provision of necessary accommodations. It also enables you to create optimal conditions for candidates to showcase their value to the client. Furthermore, engaging meaningfully with each candidate—through building rapport and exploring mutual ambitions, motivations, and expectations—lays the groundwork for a selection process based on trust and respect.

To achieve these outcomes, it's crucial to implement an inclusive and equitable selection process. This includes being well-informed about the diverse backgrounds and needs of the candidate pool and tailoring every aspect of the selection process to allow both the candidates and the hiring manager to present their best selves.

Continuously evaluate the effectiveness of the selection process, adjusting as needed to ensure it remains fair, transparent, and conducive to identifying the best talent.

Statistics reveal a significant disparity in the job application process, with British citizens from ethnic minority backgrounds needing to send, on average, 60% more CVs than their white counterparts to receive a positive response from recruiters. This highlights the urgent need to address discrimination and bias within recruitment processes.

One effective strategy to counteract this issue is the use of 'anonymous' or 'anonymised' CVs rather than the term 'blind CV'. Anonymising CVs aim to focus the hiring manager's attention on the applicant's professional qualifications and relevance to the job, eliminating any potential bias that may arise from knowledge of the applicant's personal characteristics such as age, sex, and race. This typically involves omitting names and dates related to education and employment history from CVs, ensuring that selection is based solely on merit and suitability for the role.

Moreover, when forming a shortlist of candidates, it is critical to avoid tokenism. Including candidates from under-represented, marginalised, or minority groups should be meaningful rather than symbolic. Practices that involve adding diverse candidates to the shortlist solely to meet diversity quotas, without genuine consideration of their qualifications, can damage the integrity of the recruitment process and negatively affect relationships with candidates and clients alike.

Next, we move onto the interview stage, arguably the most significant part of the recruitment process.


Standardising interview questions is a key strategy to ensure fairness during recruitment, allowing each candidate to be assessed against the same criteria. Sharing these questions with candidates beforehand can further level the playing field, not to surprise them but to enable them to showcase their best abilities. This approach aligns to create an inclusive recruitment process that accommodates diverse candidates' needs, including any necessary adjustments to support them effectively throughout the hiring stages.

In line with encouraging candidates to communicate any specific accommodations they might require, it's equally important to ensure hiring managers are well-versed in adopting alternative assessment methods. This involves understanding how to implement these methods and accurately evaluate their outcomes, fostering an adaptable and inclusive hiring environment.

However, a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has revealed that only 28% of employers provide comprehensive training to interviewers on their legal obligations and how to conduct objective interviews. A well-informed interviewer is likelier to conduct high-quality, unbiased interviews, leading to diverse and equitable hiring outcomes.

It's crucial to avoid interview questions that are illegal and unethical, as highlighted in the Equality Act 2010. For instance, questions about a candidate's family situation or religious beliefs are inappropriate and unlawful. Such inquiries can lead to discrimination based on family commitments or religious affiliations, both protected characteristics under the Equality Act. Ensuring that interview questions are relevant to the job and free from discriminatory content is essential for maintaining legal compliance and promoting a fair, respectful recruitment process.


Refining EDI throughout the recruitment journey requires a detailed and integrated approach, starting with the job specification and concluding with the candidate interviews. Integrating inclusivity at each stage ensures that businesses not only fulfil ethical obligations but also harness a significant competitive advantage by developing a diverse and vibrant workforce.

We hope these five steps will offer insightful guidance, helping you navigate towards a recruitment process that is inclusively designed and effective in attracting a broad spectrum of talent, thereby enriching your team.


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