Raising Standards in D & I Compliant Recruitment

As consensus has grown over the need to eradicate bias from all forms and all stages of the recruitment process, uncertainty has grown over how this can be achieved. It is one thing to recognise that implied or unconscious bias exists within yourself; your colleagues; and organisation as a whole, but quite another to fully remove its effect. It is harder yet to demonstrate that you have done so.

Helpful guidance comes in the form of British Standard 76005: 2017 Valuing people through diversity and inclusion, which recommends that “the shortlisting process should employ methods to remove identifying information such as gender, age, etc. to retain objectivity and reduce the influence of bias.” This extends further into looking at the educational background of individuals considered for employment, with the standard stating, “Educational opportunities and achievements can often be related to family and social background and a “who you know” rather than “what you know” recruitment culture is a significant barrier to social inclusion and mobility.”

This does not necessarily mean that having regard for an individual’s social status results in having to accept lower levels of academic achievement (although that may be justified at times), but rather that at selection stage the status of the educational institution at which the qualification was gained should not be treated as a measure of the merit of the candidate.

Most importantly for most businesses, the Standard encourages the issue to extend beyond the organisation itself – not merely to the supply chain, but into client relationships. It requires employers to “enable customers/clients to be part of the process of attracting a skilled, talented and diverse workforce.” This is, we think, intended to create a virtuous cycle in which our clients are required by their clients who are in turn required by their clients, etc. to prove that they meet this standard. It is worth noting that, “a full audit trail should be available to demonstrate the decision-making process.”

All businesses are exhorted to recognise the expectation that they demonstrate their “understanding [of] the economic and social imperative for a more inclusive approach,” and that “poor understanding of this subject can be harmful and detrimental to the organization.” While it has been conclusively proven that diverse workforces make better businesses, I suspect that these terms are intended to be a self-fulfilling prophesy.

The corollary of the proven commercial benefits of diversity and inclusion is the obligation placed on organisations of “ensuring that the resources needed for the integration and embedding of diversity and inclusion are identified and made available and sustained.” Most organisations will need to adapt and invest in their processes in order to publicly declare their compliance.

We hope that this Standard will not be seen as more red tape, nor, perhaps worse, aspirational but unachievable.  We hope that instead it is treated as an opportunity to ensure that for future generations, diversity is not an issue at all.

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