Diversity & Inclusion in The Recruitment World – Data Idols Webinar

Date posted: April 9, 2024 | 10:55 am
  • Hiring |
  • Levelling up / hire better

On the 29th February 2024 we held one of our Data Idols Lightning Talks live events on a very hot topic in the recruitment industry – diversity, equality and inclusion. 

Our ‘Diversity & Inclusion in the Recruitment World’ webinar with a panel of experts triggered important discussions on why you need to be focusing on your diversity & inclusion (D&I) practices, training hiring managers in this area and intersectionality of the topic itself.

In this blog, we’ll be taking a deep dive into some of the significant issues highlighted in the webinar, sharing thought-provoking quotes from the panel and further expanding on elements related to D&I in the recruitment sphere. 

We hope that this round-up post will help you as a hiring manager or in-house recruiter to develop your understanding of diversity, equality and inclusivity in the workplace and provide you with the tools to confidently implement these ideas into your own recruitment strategies.

Joining us on the panel we had esteemed experts in D&I and talent acquisition, including:

  • Kirsten Doherty – Director of Diversity & Inclusion at Monzo Bank
  • Jai Clarke-Binns – Diversity, Equality & Inclusion at Google DeepMind
  • Annie Jackson – Head of Talent Acquisition at Cleo
  • Christine Ng – Head of Talent & People at Quantum Motion
  • David Loughlan – Founder at Data Idols

The round-table panel covered the below topics, expanding on the practices that their companies utilise within its own D&I frameworks and offering advice on how recruiters can up their game when it comes to becoming more diverse and inclusive in their hiring campaigns. 


Why is diversity and inclusivity important?

It’s great to get an understanding on why diversity and inclusivity is important for organisations. Kirsten Doherty started by highlighting why a business should incorporate D&I into its company values: “If you have a very homogenous company, you’re not necessarily going to understand the wants, needs and challenges of your customer base, so it’s imperative from an innovation and creativity standpoint, and aligning with your customer needs point of view. It’s also from a social responsibility perspective as well, there’s lots of legal and ethical imperatives around why it is important to focus on D&I.” 

Christine Ng also acknowledged that the responsibility of creating a diverse workplace should be across a business, rather than down to one person: “It should not just be mandated at leadership level, but also hiring Head of D&I and ensuring that all of the departments in the company are on board. One thing that we see in D&I in larger companies is they might just hire a Head of D&I and call it a day. But the efforts aren’t just on one person, it should be across the entire company.” This also helps to promote consistency in the organisation and enhance brand values. 

Inclusive recruitment practices 

It all begins with adopting key inclusive recruitment practices, and there’s no better place to start than with the initial job description. As it is most likely the first communication between a potential candidate and employer, it is crucial to get this right to attract the top talent for your roles.  

A simple yet effective strategy to showcase your organisation’s inclusive recruitment practices adopted by Fintech company Cleo was explained by Annie Jackson: “We moved our diversity and inclusion statement from the bottom to the top of our job adverts. It’s a small thing to do but it shows that as a business that you care about D&I, and shows the importance that you place on it.” Be transparent about your organisation’s approach to diversity, inclusivity and equality.

Watch your language

Another factor discussed was the importance of the use of the language itself in the job description text. There are online tools available (such as GenderAI) that recruiters can use to help screen their job adverts for gendered language, and it can highlight areas you may wish to remove for clarity or improve the wording. As Kirsten Doherty stresses, it’s not just gendered language we should pay attention to when creating job descriptions: “Screen the text to see if it is gendered, or even if it seems to say ‘we require someone who is extrovert’ as this language implies a certain type of personality is wanted. Pair down the masculinity of it.”

A question for hiring managers to consider when formulating their next job ad – are we at risk of alienating neurodiverse candidates? Jai Clarke-Binns explains how the job advert is presented may impact whether the perfect candidate for your role decides to apply: “The length of our job specifications, are we being neuro-inclusive? Perhaps we need to present the job spec in two ways – one very text heavy, and another more of an infographic. You could be simply moving the bias elsewhere.” 

A practical suggestion for producing inclusive job descriptions is to trial an advert to see what works, using effective language and strategies to create them, before fully evaluating and tweaking for improvements where necessary. Trial using a visual infographic vs a text-only job advert and note which gets more engagement. 

Intersectionality is a key D&I issue 

Implementing diverse hiring practices goes beyond just hiring more females in a male-dominated industry, or onboarding candidates from different ethnic backgrounds. The key is intersectionality and basing your recruitment standards on elements that will benefit all employees in the company. However, it involves understanding the complexities of identity.

Christine says part of intersectionality in recruitment and the workforce is about not just acknowledging visible identity traits: “Once you start activating one particular community, you can get questions from the others as well asking, ‘what are you doing for us?’. When we talk a lot about the visible diversity traits, as the journey goes on such as gender and race, as the journey goes on we also look at gender identity, orientation, and neurodiversity, so we’ve got to figure out what the problem is that we’re trying to solve.”

Jai challenges hiring teams to look at where improvements can be made across the business and highlights that leaders need to promote this in order for it to work effectively: “Dropped curbs help everyone in society. If you think about these challenges that can be quite complex, think about where the dropped curbs are in your organisation. Where can you make changes that will benefit everyone?” 

This approach really requires leadership buy-in, as he explained further, “Without leadership buy-in, you can have the best D&I programmes and initiatives, but it can go down like a lead balloon. You need to be able to walk the walk and talk the talk, if not it will break down very quickly.”

He goes on to suggest that gathering internal data, from focus group meetings, leadership meetings and various touch-points across the business, is important to develop an understanding of intersectionality opportunities. What are your business goals and what pipeline challenges are you facing in your talent acquisition? Once these are in alignment, along with your core brand values, you can create a solid basis for diversity, inclusion and equality practices that are reflected positively in your hiring processes.

Invest in training for hiring managers

As a hiring manager or recruiter, you should receive thorough interview training before you go through the process of actively interviewing candidates. Not only does interviewer training improve interviewing techniques to help you to get the best out of the candidate, it can also: 

  • Ensure adherence to legal compliance with knowledge of relevant employment laws
  • Reduce costly hiring mistakes 
  • Enhance candidate experience of the interview & their perception of the business

Another benefit of a company investing in hiring manager training is that diversity, inclusion and equality will (or should be) weaved into the training process. Kirsten agrees: “People have to have the training before they do anything around recruitment. Fill in your scorecards with data rather than feelings.” She also suggests that recruiters hold themselves accountable every time they make a decision during the hiring process, and understand their underlying biases. 

Tracking diversity goals

Tracking your diversity goals can assist in evaluating hiring campaigns, and showing what works best and what needs to be improved. However, keeping tabs on diversity metrics can be helpful to internal teams, but perhaps not externally, according to Christine, unless you plan to make these available publicly.

You’ll need to be clear on your goals in order for them to be achievable. Jai urges hiring teams to “be realistic about their goal setting” when it comes to tracking diversity goals. He reminds us that “individuals tend to have networks that are homogenous” so the truth about the diversity gap may not be readily available in terms of data.

Transparency in diversity data

Data capture at any stage of employment will require a high level of transparency in order to obtain trust from potential and existing employees. Having this data and presenting it clearly can be a real pull to potential candidates seeking more information on company culture and values to see values align appropriately. 

Kirsten explained that the Monzo Diversity & Inclusivity internal report comes out every year, and deals with special category data such as the demographics of existing employees (for example, increases or decreases in the representation of gender and race at all professional levels) and any GDPR issues. 

But she also states that they needed to be clear as a business about what the data is for and what it is not for – “It’s for building our strategy, building direction and monitoring progress against our goals”. She said that 85% of people shared their diversity data with Monzo due to having a certain level of trust in the business. Any data-sharing principles are also largely stressed. “Sometimes data can be misconstrued by people who don’t understand it”. 

Expanding on the need for clarity, Annie Jackson agreed: “Being transparent about career frameworks and salary banding resulted in positive feedback (at Cleo) from different backgrounds, especially in women in tech”. However, there can be a hurdle to jump in getting the required data to showcase that you are meeting your diversity goals. “Getting enough data to be meaningful can be an issue.” Educating people on how and why the data is needed is imperative to reaching accuracy in your diversity data. 

Hiring at senior levels

Another topic discussed was the perceived struggle to hire diversely at senior levels, with the question posed that perhaps recruiting teams are unconsciously biased towards focusing their efforts on hiring for junior roles to support their diversity goals. Christine believes you can hire a diverse and inclusive workforce at senior levels if you prioritise training: “It depends on the team and if they have the capacity to train. Ensuring that you have the training in place, partner up with the right boot camps.”

It can also be reliant on where you are advertising your job roles as to whether you attract a diverse range of talent. “Quite a lot of people from under-represented areas possibly won’t be accessing the specialist diversity job boards,” says Kirsten, so it’s best to advertise on easily accessible platforms for all, such as LinkedIn. 

Actions you can implement in your recruitment strategy

To summarise, the experts provided many actionable points that you as a recruiter or hiring manager can adopt to improve your D&I practices, including: 

  • Check the job description language – is it inclusive? Does it include the organisation’s statement on diversity and inclusivity? Can it be improved?
  • Be transparent on your D&I values as an organisation
  • Consider intersectionality in your recruitment process & adapt accordingly
  • Invest in interview training for hiring staff 
  • Set diversity tracking goals and revisit them regularly 
  • Be clear with diversity data within your business 
  • Prioritise training when it comes to hiring at senior levels to avoid being biased and focusing on junior roles

If you’d like to catch up on the ‘Diversity & Inclusion in the Recruitment World’ Data Idols lightning talks webinar, you can watch the recording here. Learn more about Data Science, Engineering and Analytics recruitment on our Data Hub.

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