Start with Starting: Ten actions to support effective, inclusive hiring

Read as SRI associate Marina Kaelin tells us the best actions you can take to support effective, inclusive hiring

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Working for an organisation that is inclusive and values its employees has always been essential for me.

At the base this means that a company provides employees the opportunity to be themselves, to show up authentically and contribute with their best assets to the success of their work, their team and the organisation, independently of their level of hierarchy, appearance, background or any other circumstances.

With all our best efforts, we live in a world that presents largely diverging opportunities to different people through social discrimination and structural barriers. This does not only present an ethical dilemma but also creates huge disadvantages in business. The subject of identifying and deconstructing the barriers which prevent people to be at their best has accompanied me throughout academia, in my professional- and personal life. While initially my passion mainly sparked from women’s empowerment and creating equal rights for LGBTQ+ people, the intersectionality with age, race, ethnicity, ability, migration background, language, and many other circumstances called for a more holistic approach. This has largely been inspired through partaking in the @UNCTAD Youth Network, and participating in different events of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. The innovation, drive, and solutions cultivated in this truly diverse environment within the context of one common agenda remains an incredibly powerful experience.

While inclusion as a topic will be unique to every person, it is crucial within the hiring processes and work environments and where a full-time employee spends 8h + every day. In the wake of the social justice movement last year SRI entered a period of introspection, asking ourselves ‘are we doing enough?’ and ‘how can we contribute more effectively?’  We partnered Peoplism, an expert company in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) to help shape SRI’s DEIB strategy on how we can be more inclusive and equitable to foster diversity within our own firm, and for our clients.

Here are my ten tenets for inclusive hiring

  1. Have a clear goal in mind tied to your business strategy – this is really about the “Why”. When you hire people who are different from your existing team, how will they contribute to the bigger picture? This is essential to keep in mind throughout the entire search process.
  2. Make every touch point inclusive – be conscious about language, imagery and ensuring that people from different underrepresented groups have their place in every step of the recruitment process.
  3. Use competency-based candidate evaluation – SRI’s uses FACT – to reduce inherent bias and keep all candidates to the same standards. Moreover, ensure to stick to the initially defined evaluation criteria throughout the interview process.
  4. Track the numbers – how diverse are your candidate pools, long-lists and short-lists and are those numbers improving?
  5. It’s people AND process – you need both people and fit-for-purpose processes to improve inclusion, equity and diversity. While we may have the best intentions, our unconscious bias influences our decisions unless we put structured helplines and accountability points in place.
  6. Don’t undermine existing diversity – seek out and include different views, perspectives, hierarchical levels and profiles across each element of your recruitment.
  7. Unconscious bias training on its own will not shift the dial – a holistic strategy and practical approach is vital for recruitment, the on-boarding and continued success of a person within your organisation.
  8. Ask for feedback – ask candidates about their experiences, and your internal hiring team about the diversity of candidate slates presented.
  9. Everyone’s responsible – While accountability might lie with one party; sustained positive change to foster a culture of inclusion requires every employee to act.
  10. Get excited about change – Fostering diversity through inclusive and equitable behaviour is a continued learning process. Get comfortable with the initial discomfort and excited about what is yet to come.

These ten tenets are the ‘tip of the iceberg’ for driving lasting, positive change to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging within your company. Perhaps my biggest learning through the last year, and in my role as project leader for DEIB at SRI, is to not underestimate but appreciate the sustained commitment, work and flexibility required to generate the wins, right across your organization. Whatever the roadblocks might be, it is worth it.

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