How to Hire a VA Regardless of whether you’re engaging a recruitment agency or going through the process yourself, knowing how to hire a virtual assistant (VA) is key to…
Table of Contents
- What is diversity and why is it important?
- Our responsibility in recruitment
- The Equality Act 2010
- Unconscious Bias
- Job Advertisements
- Applying D&I policy to recruitment
- Diversity at Tiger
What is diversity and why is it important?
Diversity is about including, embracing and empowering a range of people by respecting and appreciating their age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation and education.
Diversity is important because everyone deserves to have the same opportunities in the workplace. However, due to discrimination, prejudice and systemic racism, this is rarely the case. So, if a workplace promotes diversity and inclusion
(D&I) through actionable initiatives, it can help provide opportunities for those from underrepresented groups.
Everyone brings a unique perspective to the workplace and, if an office is diverse, these different perspectives can make organisations stronger and more successful. There have been many studies to support this, one being the McGregor-Smith Review, which found that the benefit of having a representative black and ethnic minority workforce adds an additional £24bn a year to the UK economy, or 1.3% of GDP
The below links offer useful further reading about diversity in the workplace:
CIPD Diversity Factsheet
This provides a good introduction and overview for HR professionals and those in management. It includes a factsheet about the basics of diversity, information about building inclusive workplaces, D&I in the time of coronavirus, benefits and managing D&I.
ACAS – Improving EDI In Your Workplace
This page provides information for employers about checking existing D&I policies, making sure workplaces are inclusive and processes to follow if workers feel excluded.
Stonewall – LGBT In Britain Work Report
A report about people who identify as LGBTQ+ and the discrimination they face in the workplace (also deals with the intersection between sexuality and race).
Forbes – Four Ways You Can Tackle Racial Discrimination In Your Workplace
A US-centric article written in the context of the Black Lives Matter protests of June 2020 – it lists some good ideas about how employees can tackle discrimination within the workplace.
Our Responsibility in recruitment
If you recruit for your business, you can have a direct impact on the social mobility of someone from an underrepresented group. You do this by opening up job opportunities that they may not have had otherwise.
An opportunity to work will not only positively impact a person’s financial security, but also opens up networking opportunities, the possibility for career development and other social benefits. Conversely, if you don’t promote diversity in your hiring practices, jobseekers from underrepresented groups may continue to not have access to these opportunities.
The Equality Act 2010
The following information about the Equality Act and how it relates to recruitment has been taken from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).
Legally, unlawful discrimination is dealt with under the Equality Act 2010 (applicable in England, Scotland and Wales). There are nine protected characteristics under the Act:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
The Act states that unlawful discrimination includes:
- Direct: Someone is treated less favourably than someone else because of one of their protected characteristics
- Indirect: When an employer applies a criteria to all employees and, as a result, those with shared protected characteristics are discriminated against
- Harassment: Unwanted behaviour that relates directly to someone’s protected characteristic – this could be in the form of intimidation, humiliation, hostility or offence
- Victimisation: When an employee is treated unfavourably because they have made a complaint, raised a grievance or given evidence in respect to a complaint about discrimination
The Act states that employers must not discriminate against those applying for employment/during the recruitment process.
Positive action is when people who have been underrepresented in a particular business or industry are encouraged to apply for roles/given training opportunities. Employers are also able to treat an individual more favourably if there is reason to think people with protected characteristics are disadvantaged in the recruitment process. The aim is to encourage that person to overcome the feeling of being disadvantaged (not to facilitate a sexist/racist policy). In order for positive action to take place in the recruitment process:
- The candidate must be as qualified as others (with equal work experience, skill and potential)
- There must exist no policy of routinely treating all underrepresented or disadvantaged groups more favourably
- The treatment, while favourable, must be in proportionate means of compensating for the disadvantage
Positive action is different from positive discrimination, which is when employers hire purely based on a protected characteristic, regardless of their experience or qualifications. This is illegal in the UK, as it does not give equal treatment to all.
Unconscious bias refers to the biases and beliefs we hold about certain groups of people, without being aware of them. This isn’t just about race or nationality. It could be sexuality, gender or age. Unconscious bias can play a big part in recruitment, especially when it comes to dealing with candidates. Common forms of unconscious bias in the hiring process include:
For example, assuming that because a candidate went to a good university, they’ll be smarter than someone who went to a smaller/less well-known university.
For example, assuming that because a candidate is male, they are a better suited to a management role than a female.
For example, assuming that because a candidate has many years of experience, they will be better qualified for the role than someone who doesn’t.
For example, assuming that because someone is outgoing and friendly in an interview, they will be better for a job than someone who is quieter.
‘Like me’ bias
For example, assuming that because someone is like you (or you can picture yourself being friends with them), they will be better for a job than someone who is different to you.
Remember – it’s about a candidate’s achievements and skills, rather than their race, education level, sexual orientation, gender or age.
Asking structured interview questions, with clearly defined standards based on the requirements of the role, can help remove unconscious bias in interviewing. If you are not confident that you or your interviewers can do this, you may want to prepare a list of approved interview questions. This can also help eliminate biases, as it minimises the chance of straying into territory which will bias the interviewer against the candidate. Remember, the questions asked in an interview should directly relate to the requirements of the role.
Examples of good interview questions:
Tell me about a time you have had to use your initiative to resolve a difficult situation?
This question speaks directly to a candidate’s ability to think independently and creatively.
How would you describe your managerial style?
If the role is in a management capacity, asking this question to all candidates will give you an indication of how they have stepped up to show key leadership skills.
Give me an example of where you’ve worked well with a team?
If the role requires teamwork, this will allow the candidate to display their ability to work well and cooperate.
Give me an example of where you’ve used X software/program in the past?
If the candidate needs to demonstrate they have a certain level of experience/skill with a particular program or type of software, this is a great question to find out exactly how they have used it in their previous roles.
Tell me about a time you’ve used your creativity to overcome a dilemma?
This is a good question that will help assess a candidate’s problem-solving skills.
Tell me about a time you made a mistake? How did you work to rectify it?
This is a good question to ask within a professional context, as it will assess their ability to handle difficult situations and to learn from their failures.
Can you tell me how you manage conflicting priorities and delegation?
This question is appropriate for a manager/supervisor level role, as task delegation will be essential.
The above questions relate specifically to particular skills/requirements of a role, rather than their personal life.
When it comes to bad interview questions, these typically include anything that will unfairly bias the interviewer against the candidate. As you can see from the below examples, these include anything that will cause the candidates to reveal personal details. These have no bearing on the requirements of the role, which should be in the main focus of the interview.
Examples of bad interview questions:
If I polled everyone you’ve ever worked with, what percentage would not be a fan of yours?
This has no relevance to the requirements of a role, it is too personal and can lead candidates to reveal possible points of discrimination they’ve experienced.
Tell me about the relationships you’ve had with the people you’ve worked with.
Similar to the above, this question can reveal discrimination the candidate has experienced.
Tell me about your home life?
Even though this seems harmless, it’s important to steer away from personal details that aren’t related to the role’s requirements.
I’m interviewing X number of people for this job – why should I hire you?
Forcing a candidate to compare themselves to other candidates is not helpful and may encourage an answer that relates to personal information or a protected characteristic.
What can you tell me about your childhood?
Again, this question forces the candidate to reveal personal information that has no bearing on their current personality or the requirements of the role.
All of the above questions ask the candidate to reveal information that the interviewer could use to prejudice them. As a rule, steer away from questions that reveal personal information and have no relation to the role itself.
Be very careful with the language you use in your job ad, as there are certain words that attract different jobseekers. For example, a woman is less likely to apply to a job if it has words like ‘ninja’ or ‘rockstar’ in it, while phrases like ’enthusiastic young people’ can put off certain age groups.
This is also the case for listing job requirements in a job ad. Men are more likely to apply for a role if they meet some of the ‘essential’ job requirements, whereas women will often only apply if they fulfil all of them. So, splitting these into ‘essential’ and ‘desired’ skills will encourage more women to apply for your role.
According to the Equality Act 2010 (via the REC), the publishing of a discriminatory job ad is not illegal under the Act, however an employer can be liable for discrimination if the wording used indicates there is an intention to discriminate because of a protected characteristic.
When advertising for your role, seek out candidates from underrepresented groups where possible. This can be done by posting to a variety of different job boards, or asking candidates from underrepresented groups to make referrals.
Applying D&I Policy to Recruitment
If you’re looking to change your recruitment process to help eliminate biases, below are some effective tools to do so:
- Removing names, ages and genders from CVs before they are passed to the hiring manager
- Blind CVs can still be read in a certain way, so shouldn’t be the only measure put in place to remove bias
- Blind CVs can be implemented through either automation software that can remove personal on information CVs, or by a colleague who won’t be part of the recruiting process
Reporting on applicants
- This is when a breakdown of the applicants by protected characteristic is sent alongside the shortlist
- This can only be done when a candidate chooses to disclose their protected characteristics at this stage
- A recruiter/the employer can also ask them to disclose their protected characteristics during the hiring process, however, the candidate has the right not to disclose this information
- Using skills tests as the first step in the recruitment process can help candidates progress through to the following stages, based entirely on their skills
- This can help remove bias based on protected characteristics in the first stage of the recruitment process
- To implement, an employer must first choose the skills they want to test, and then select/devise a test to adequately assess this skill. From there, they can monitor the results
Creating a role-based scorecard for interviews
- Using a set scorecard for each interviewee, which is weighted towards essential skills/characteristics, can make interviews more objective
- Each scorecard should be developed to match the unique skills of the role (with about five different skills being scored) – they can either be formulated entirely from scratch or can be adapted from a template online
- These are the number of people with a certain protected characteristic you want to aim to hire for your business. These can be based on the location of the office (reflecting the general population of that area) or by another metric
- However they are formulated, it’s important to have a reasoning behind the particular quota you’ve chosen
- Be sure to communicate any diversity targets up front to recruiters if you’re working with them
Where do we start?
According to the CIPD, the approach to progressing diversity and inclusion in your workplace should be systematic. Businesses need to ensure their culture, employee processes and interpersonal interactions are all taken into account.
To do this:
- Develop a holistic D&I plan and strategy for your business, ensuring it aligns with company values
- Examine current practices and data to pinpoint where existing inequalities sit
- Implement targeted initiatives to directly amend these inequalities
Areas for improvement may include communication, behaviour in the workplace and learning and development. Any action or initiative put in place should be regularly reviewed and measured against set objectives.
Diversity At Tiger
Tiger Recruitment embraces diversity and aims to promote the benefits of diversity and inclusion in all of our business activities. We seek to develop a business culture that reflects that belief and we understand our responsibility within the recruitment sector to encourage diversity in businesses.
We will promote diversity for our staff, workers and applicants and are committed to help ensure that our clients meet their own diversity targets (via our Diversity and Inclusion Plan, available on request at firstname.lastname@example.org). Some of the initiatives we have put in place include:
- Internal/unconscious bias training
- Internal communications focused on D&I education
- Monthly book club focusing on diversity topics and/or authors
- External communications: thought leadership and events focusing on D&I
- Promote underrepresented groups on blogs and social media
- Sharing D&I resources in email communication with candidates and clients
- Partnerships with schools and colleges for internships/apprenticeships internally
- Diversity placement survey to monitor progress
Take a look at our D&I website page for more resources.
Want this blog as a PDF? Order it here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Read some of our most frequently asked questions on DEI below.