Behaviour Change Platform for D&I

Inclusion Guideline: Hiring Process

Diversify your hiring process with this inclusion checklist.

Written In Partnership with the Bright + Early team*


Hiring can be overwhelming, and when you have the added goal of hiring diversely, it can be hard to know where to start. It may be tempting to limit yourself to who happens to apply to your job, or to skim applications based on traditional measures like a degree from a top university. Unfortunately, that’s also a fast track to a homogeneous team. The good news: we’re here to help. With this checklist, you can eliminate unconscious bias and attract a diverse team through every stage of the process, from preparation and interviewing to hiring and onboarding.

It's important to remember that reducing bias and creating a more inclusive hiring process can’t be “fixed” or done overnight. We’re human, and as such, it’s not possible for us to be completely bias free. However, there are steps that you can take to make hiring as inclusive as possible. Inclusivity is a journey!

Table of Contents

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Writing a Stellar Job Description

Research your (real) needs. What are the duties and expectations? What are the actual skill or experience requirements? Consider gathering the input of someone currently in a similar role, or shadow that person as they complete a typical day. Do they really need that degree? Don’t copy and paste or add “nice to haves” as “must haves”. Many job seekers read descriptions very carefully and may choose not to apply if they don’t meet every criteria.

Avoid corporate-speak and long-winded jargon. You want to make your job posting clear and concise. What does “align strategic organizational objectives” really mean? You’ll not only confuse applicants, you’ll get less of them.

Consider your tone. Try to use language that is both clear and positive. Explain the role using words that are not aggressive or intimidating (such as “competitive” or “the best of the best”), and describe the type of candidate you want rather than the type of candidate who will not be considered. Statistically, some words and phrases are considered gendered and you may wish to use a third-party tone meter to help ensure your overall posting is well balanced.

Don’t forget about other skills. Of course you want someone competent and experienced in the field, but you shouldn’t hire for these at the expense of more human skills. Consider which personal attributes lead to success on your team. Someone warm and personable? Diplomatic and logical? Consider how you can work these into your posting and evaluation process.

Wear your corporate culture proudly. Make your commitment to Diversity and Inclusion known from the very beginning by including a mission or values statement at the end of each job posting. Give specific examples of initiatives, committees, or awards to show that your organization really walks the walk.

Consider the audience. Your post will be accessed by job seekers of varying visual, auditory, cognitive, literacy, motor, and speech abilities. It might seem daunting, but it can actually be simple and cost-effective to invest the effort into designing for accessibility.

Include an accommodations statement. To the best of your abilities, you must provide accommodations to candidates who require them. For example, candidates may have mobility, hearing, or vision needs. If a candidate indicates that they will require accommodations for their interview process, work with them and listen to their needs. Here is a sample statement you can add to your job descriptions:

(COMPANY) provides employment accommodation during the recruitment process. Should you require any accommodation, please indicate this on your application and we will work with you to meet your accessibility needs. For any questions, suggestions or required documents regarding accessibility in a different format, please contact us at at (phone) and/or (email address)

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Getting the Word Out

Have a great careers page. A great page should reflect your culture and values (including your commitment to diversity), give real information on what it’s like to work at your company, and give a detailed overview of your benefits and perks. Going into detail about things candidates may not want to ask about, such as parental leave, is a fantastic idea.

Expand your reach. In addition to the popular job posting sites, consider seeking out niche community job boards, sites that focus on employers championing diversity and inclusion, reaching out to local employment counselors, industry-specific job boards, or even checking in with professional associations related to the field.

That said, cast your net wide. Remember, diverse candidates may not be in the same circles or networks that you’re aware of. Posting on a general board like Indeed or even a government job board can bring in many more applications to sort through, but you may find a hidden gem.

Attend and host events with diverse speakers and attendees to meet new candidates. Be sure to also send out a diverse team to represent you, if possible!

External recruiters. If you’re working with external recruiters, ask them how they ensure they source diverse candidates. Don’t have anyone who doesn’t share your values represent your company in the job market!

Referrals can be a good early hiring source for startups, but watch out: they can quickly lead to teams that look and think a little too similarly.

Reaching out. Unfortunately, relying on candidates to apply to your job postings won’t often net you the most diverse applicant pool. You’ll have to put in the work and reach out to passive candidates that you’re interested in recruiting. Be genuine in your message and focus on their work abilities, and you should net a positive response.

*Hot Tip #1: the best recruiting tool is your reputation as an employer. Ensure you have already taken measures to create an inclusive environment before seeking to recruit.

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Screening Applicants

Use an ATS (applicant tracking system). These will help you organize your hiring process, involve collaborators, and even design feedback forms to focus your screeners and interviewers on the role’s key needs. There are free options out there, but the top options on the market right now are Lever and Greenhouse.

Diversify the decision-making. Form a hiring committee that includes a wide array of individuals from different levels within the organization. You can involve this team at the screening phase, or the interview phase. Sometimes, a hiring team comprised of only the manager or direct teammates of the potential hire can get too caught up in technical ability at the expense of culture, soft skills and diversity.

Give every applicant an equal chance. Remove unconscious bias by using a tool like  Blendoor or Unbiasify, which remove identifying factors (like gender, or names) from a candidate’s profile. You’ll be surprised by the results!

More isn’t always better. Is a degree, diploma, or x number of years’ experience really indicative of a person’s ability to perform well in the role - or are these cultural biases that can be set aside?

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Interviewing Candidates

Prepare the candidate for success. Provide them with an agenda beforehand, and a list of the people they’ll be meeting with, along with what to expect from each activity. To go the extra mile, post this in the job description.

Prepare your interviewers for success. Interviewers should be trained on interview techniques, the role’s requirements, and the legal do’s and don’ts of interviewing. They should be your best ambassadors when it comes to your values and culture, including your D&I initiatives.

Don’t ask. Though it may be tempting to keep data on things like LGBTQ+ applicants, or candidates who identify as POC, these are still not things you can legally ask about during the interview process, no matter how good your intentions.*

Design the interview. Don’t just have a casual conversation or simply go through their resume. Design specific questions around the role’s needs as well as your organization’s core values. Asking each candidate the same questions can seem dull, but it gives you a chance to compare them directly, reducing bias.

Make candidates comfortable. There’s no business need to design intimidating interviews. Studies show that confrontational, “prove it” style interviewing can turn off candidates, especially those who may feel like outsiders in your industry. Instead of a whiteboard interview in front of a team of interviewers, try a collaborative interview where the candidate solves a problem with your team.

Respect their time. Avoid having multiple interviews across many days, where a currently employed candidate may have to book off many varied hours and potentially put their current job in jeopardy. One solution is to arrange back to back interviews over a half day, which is often easier for the candidate to book off. Avoid designing interviews with long take-home activities, as those with care-giving duties may not be able to complete them easily. After the interview, get back to the candidate with next steps in a timely way (within 3 days is a good window, if possible).

Rejecting candidates. If a candidate is unsuccessful at any stage of the process, it’s good form to get back to them, as uncomfortable as that can be. Offer feedback as an option they can choose to opt into- or not. Be kind and supportive, as you never know who might apply successfully in the future or refer a friend!

*Hot Tip #2: For any instance where you want to collect statistical data pertaining to your organization’s diversity, it’s best to divorce the data from individual identification. This can mean doing an anonymous survey (though the results are only valid until someone joins or leaves), or using a third party product or service.

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Making an Offer

Money, honey. Avoid asking candidates about their current or past salary. Instead, ask them what compensation they are expecting. Asking about compensation is still important, to ensure your mutual expectations are aligned, but if you are quoted a number that is lower than expected, don’t take advantage. Research market rates (Glassdoor, Linkedin, and Payscale all have tools for this) and make an offer that is fair.

Include a personal note with your offer paperwork outlining why you’re excited to have them join your organization.

Include all information on benefits and perks with your offer, including things like time off, parental benefits and flexibility policies. These can be very important to the decision to accept a job, but candidates don’t always feel comfortable asking about them.

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Onboarding Your New Hire

Make new employees feel welcome. Make sure the basics like their email address and workstation are ready to go, but also consider putting together a welcome package with useful company-branded items, a list of employee resource groups or local lunch spots, and even an organizational chart to help keep track of all the names they will be hearing around the workplace.

Introduce the team. Make sure the team and the employee’s new manager is ready for the new employee and has a plan for their first week. Plan icebreakers such as a team lunch on the first day. Consider pairing them with a ‘first friend’ in the company.

Shift the start date. Move the new team member’s start date from a Monday to a Tuesday or Wednesday, to help ensure that their teammates will be through their early week work and have time to assist them if needed.

Streamline the onboarding process. If you have HR software, it  likely includes an onboarding tool to eliminate the monotony of paperwork. If it’s mutually convenient, you can even have the new hire begin the process online before their start date so that they are ready to go from day one.

Consider pronouns during your onboarding process. Ensure any onboarding forms have pronoun options, as well as a field for a preferred (vs legal) name. Be sure to ask about and respect preferred names and pronouns when introducing a new team member.

Demonstrate transparency and clarity. Share your D&I goals and commitments from the very beginning, along with your company’s history, strategies, and inside terms such as acronyms and slang to help the new hire feel welcome so that they can make more effective contributions to the team. If you have a larger team, consider designing a longer onboarding program where new hires learn about each department and meet key leaders in the organization.

Ask for feedback. After about a month on your team, survey new team members about their recruiting, interviewing and onboarding experience. This will give you valuable information to iterate and improve upon your process.

Crescendo is proud to partner with Bright + Early as part of the Guide to Getting Started With D&I. They are a modern HR consultancy on a mission to craft the world’s best workplaces. They partner with early to mid-stage companies who need to scale fast but stay friendly. No HR in place? Don’t know where to start? No problem.

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