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Recruitment’s role in supporting EDI

Building a diverse workforce and an inclusive workplace is no longer a nice-to-have, but a core component of any talent acquisition strategy.

As hiring appetite increases, demonstrating a commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) both internally and externally needs to be a priority for organisations wanting to attract and hold on to talent.

Setting the EDI agenda from the top down:

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Challenge employers on their hiring process and recruitment materials

In establishing the right framework for a role, employers can then be confident they are making steps to attract a diverse range of talent.

Encourage commitment to diversity and inclusion

The focus on EDI isn’t going away and according to the Hays Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Report 2020 an organisation’s EDI policies are important to nearly three quarters (73%) of professionals when considering a new role.

Encouraging and supporting employers to commit to EDI practices is an essential part of the recruitment process. Often this can be planned and shaped via consultation with employees through employee surveys, employee networks and a variety of leadership listening sessions.

Working towards one of the many framework accreditations is also an effective way to plan for and measure progress towards a defined EDI goal.

Equally, recruiters can work by facilitating third-party introductions to well-run and well-connected community, employability and employment groups that support the recruitment of talent from typically under-represented groups. 

Candidates are now much more confident and expectant in asking employers upfront for evidence of their commitments to EDI, alongside values, purpose and impact such as sustainability– so employers must be ready with a response.

Promote flexibility at the point of hire

Employers are increasingly expected to design roles which offer a flexible working pattern. No longer the privilege of the few who make the business case to accommodate this, it is an expectation on the part of most existing employees and those seeking a new role.

To not offer it in roles where a flexible working pattern is possible represents a material risk to the ability to both retain and recruit the talent you seek.

We have a responsibility as recruiters to encourage employers to offer flexible working at the point of hire.

For example, when employers list a job, we’ll ask if a role can be advertised as flexible in terms of the hours worked or location, and whether the role can work on part-time hours.

Providing an intervention to question employers on aspects such as offering flexible working is one of the reasons why the recruitment industry is a key player in helping to build diverse and inclusive workplaces, and ensuring everyone has access to the job opportunities they want to secure.

Often for employers, it takes an outside lens to point out roadblocks in a recruitment journey which might alienate the talent you are trying to attract.

We know that by applying a few simple actions to employers’ processes – we can increase the likelihood to recruit ‘inclusively’ and widen the talent pool employers have access to.


Yvonne Smyth is group head of equity, diversity and inclusion at Hays and director of Hays Human Resources

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