How to build a stronger workforce

The CIBSE Inclusivity Guidelines provide guidance for members around a number of topics including language, communications, organising meetings, governance and recruitment. In this blog, Jo Edwards, Partner at Hoare Lea and CIBSE Inclusivity Panel member speaks on how fair and inclusive recruitment can help us to achieve a stronger, diverse workforce. 

The start of a new year is always a time when people think about their career – what are their plans and objectives for the coming months, where would they like to have taken their role by the end of the year, or maybe it’s time to look for a new opportunity.

The way recruitment is undertaken can be key to unlocking inclusivity in an organisation. So, as well as a time of opportunity for jobseekers, this time of year is a great chance for employers to look at their approach to attracting new people to join and enhance their team.

It’s very well documented that diverse workforce results in a better business; one which has higher levels of creativity, better engaged staff who stay for longer, and is more profitable. While organisations will of course aim to recruit based on who is the best candidate for a particular role, it’s very easy to slip into a pattern of recruiting people who appear an easy ‘fit’ which can lead to a lack of diversity. So how can organisations avoid this pitfall?

The most important aspect is awareness – those involved in the process need to be aware of the relationship between recruitment and D&I, whether that’s an internal HR function, an interviewer, or an external agent.

How about the job ad itself – is the language and the imagery used inclusive and accessible. Is the material available in accessible formats? Is the application process itself accessible? Is there any mention of flexible working options that might be available?

These days, it’s common practice for applicant age to be excluded from CVs, but also removing the opportunity for unconscious bias based on gender or assumptions relating to a name can be a good idea.

When it comes to the interviews themselves, you will find a lot of relevant information in the CIBSE Inclusivity Guidance relating to setting up meetings – think about the timing, accessibility of venue, dietary requirements, dress code, and support for travel costs. All of these things can make or break the sense of inclusivity for a candidate.

The interview panel should also be carefully selected to help make the candidates feel comfortable. This might mean someone more junior is included, or someone of a different gender, ethnicity or technical background. As well as helping the candidate this can also be really beneficial for the potential employer as a more diverse interview panel will tend to have a broader range of opinions about candidates helping to avoid group think.

None of these suggestions is difficult, time consuming or costly. So let’s think about making these small changes that will help us recruit a more diverse workforce and help our businesses be the best they can.

by Jo Edwards - Hoare Lea and CIBSE Inclusivity Panel.

Download the CIBSE Inclusivity Guidelines for CIBSE Members and Staff for best practice and advice on fair recruitment.


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