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What is Inclusive Hiring?

Inclusive hiring refers to processes designed to promote diversity within an organization by making the recruiting process as fair as possible for all candidates. This allows recruiters to level the playing field so talent from marginalized communities have equal opportunities to move through the hiring funnel and ultimately land a job.

Nowadays, there is so much emphasis on diversity and inclusion in the workplace that recruiters want to make sure that their hiring practices are conducive to meeting their diversity and inclusion goals, which means they need to think about inclusive hiring and determine how that can be incorporated into their daily recruiting practices.

Inclusive Hiring Diagram

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Benefits of Inclusive Hiring Practices

The benefits of inclusive hiring practices cannot be overstated. Not only are these strategies an essential part of a diversity recruitment plan, but they can also help to improve a company in numerous ways, including:

Eliminating bias 

Although recruiters may have the best of intentions to be fair during the hiring process, there may still be unconscious biases that guide their decision-making. When companies adopt inclusive hiring practices, recruiters learn about the conscious and unconscious biases that may prevent certain candidates from succeeding. By confronting these issues head-on, companies are able to remove bias from the process and give all candidates a fair chance to be hired. Additionally, addressing bias in this way can shine a spotlight on how colleagues treat each other on a daily basis, so any bias in employee relations can also be addressed.  

Attracting and retaining talent 

As the workforce becomes more and more diverse, job seekers expect the companies they work for to be a reflection of their communities. As a result, people looking for work heavily weigh the diversity and inclusion of an organization when making decisions about job offers. In fact, research from McKinsey & Company found that 39 percent of people will turn down a job offer or drop out of a hiring funnel if a company lacks inclusion. Also, inclusive hiring practices go a long way toward retaining talent because when workplaces demonstrate how much they value and accept their workers, employees are happier and more likely to stay at an organization.

Improving reputation 

An inclusive work environment can boost a company's reputation among talent because when there are diverse groups of people in a workplace, everyone can see themselves being successful there. Also, since consumers want to do business with companies that are diverse, inclusive hiring practices help boost their reputation among those who would buy their goods and services.

Adding different perspectives

Bringing people from different backgrounds into an organization also brings in different perspectives that can increase innovation. The more voices present at the table, the more ideas that are generated, which can also make the decision-making process more efficient. 

Increasing revenue

Inclusive hiring practices are just as good for a company's bottom line as it is for its culture and employee morale. A study conducted by Harvard Business Review found that companies with a higher-than-average level of diversity earn 19 percent higher innovation revenues than less diverse companies and research from Forbes found that 56 percent of companies that make over $10 billion in annual revenue strongly believe diversity in their organizations has driven innovation. Diverse companies are also able to capture new markets 70% more than companies that aren’t diverse. The Boston Consulting Group found that organizations with highly-diverse management teams earn 19 percent higher revenues than companies with less managerial diversity.

Inclusive Hiring Practices 

In order to create an environment that celebrates diversity, it's essential for recruiters to adopt inclusive hiring practices that will make it easier to hire talent from underrepresented backgrounds. The following are some strategies that facilitate the process.

Define diversity and inclusion

To successfully implement inclusive hiring practices, organizations need to define what these terms mean to them. While generally, people may only think about diversity as racial and cultural, it's important for recruiters to recognize that a truly inclusive workplace also considers gender, ability, and veteran status. Also, addressing intersectionality will help recruiters understand and recognize how the hiring practices they have impact people with different identities.

Examine current hiring policies and practices

In order for companies to know where they need to go, they have to assess where they currently are. Examining hiring policies and practices will help reveal any areas that may inhibit the ability to hire inclusively. For example, looking at policies and practices may reveal that a company's rules aren’t necessarily supportive of diverse groups of candidates, or there may be places in the process where bias has crept in and precluded recruiters from making fair choices.

Assemble a diverse recruitment team

 The more diverse a recruitment team is, the more opinions are infused into the process of candidate selection and hiring. This allows current workers from diverse backgrounds to have a say in who is hired, and it also helps candidates because if their group is represented at an organization, they can see themselves working there as well.

Use the right recruiting tools 

Taking advantage of recruiting tools can make the process of inclusive hiring much more efficient. For example, by using a diversity recruiting platform, or DRP, recruiters can collect diversity data in order to identify, source, and engage with multiple talent demographics. This allows them to understand how well they’re doing in attracting talent from diverse groups so they can make adjustments to their approaches as needed.

Widen talent search 

Recruiters often have favorite locations for sourcing talent, but if these places are not increasing the diversity of a company’s workforce, they need to branch out. If recruiters find that they're only getting applicants with similar backgrounds and qualifications, they should consider widening their talent search to different schools, events, and job boards in order to find candidates from diverse communities. 

Highlight diversity on careers websites

A careers website may be one of the first contacts a potential candidate has with an organization, so companies need to make it clear right away that they value diversity and inclusion. From policies to personnel, organizations should put their diversity and inclusion efforts front and center on their careers website in order to pique the interest of talent and encourage people to apply for open positions.

Create an inclusive brand

Success stories travel fast, so when organizations have an inclusive culture that provides opportunities for talent from historically-underserved communities, employees are happy to work there and eager to spread the good news. This helps to create an inclusive employer brand that makes candidates excited about the possibility of bringing their talent and skills to a company. 

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Inclusive Language in Recruitment

Inclusive language in recruitment is a must for companies working to incorporate inclusive hiring into their recruitment practices. The language used in job descriptions can make the difference between building a strong pipeline of talent from diverse groups and not having enough candidates to meet hiring goals. In order to use language in the most inclusive ways, recruiters should avoid the following:

Unnecessarily gendered language

To ensure there is no gender bias in job descriptions, recruiters should remove all references to pronouns and instead speak directly to potential candidates. For example, instead of “He should have strong communication skills,” a better sentence would be “You should have strong communication skills.”

Also, recruiters should avoid using words commonly associated with a specific gender. If a company is trying to attract more women, for example, words generally associated with men should be avoided. Job descriptions should not include words like “ambitious,” “assertive,” “aggressive,” and “confident,” but instead have words that will resonate more with women, like “collaborate,” “understand,” “nurture,” and “interpersonal.”

Too much jargon 

Every industry has its own language, but using a lot of jargon in job descriptions can alienate potential candidates—especially those from marginalized groups who may be suffering from imposter syndrome. When people have not been in a field for long, they may not be familiar with the language recruiters use, even though they have all the skills an organization is looking for. As a result, companies should only use jargon when absolutely necessary, and if possible, they should avoid it entirely.

Ability bias 

There are a wide range of disabilities that someone may be living with—from physical to emotional to mental to intellectual—so it’s always important to reference someone as an individual first and not make their condition a defining characteristic. As a result, careful wording is necessary when mentioning an organization is open to candidates with disabilities. In addition, to be inclusive in job descriptions, it's important to avoid language that implies ability is a requirement for a job. Words like “walking,” “standing,” “lifting,” and “bending” will make it difficult for people with disabilities to see themselves in a position, so they'll be less likely to apply even though they may actually be qualified for the job.


The workforce is more multigenerational than ever, so the spectrum of age groups needs to be considered in job descriptions. Since ageism can be experienced by both older and younger individuals, derogatory terms about any age should always be avoided. For example, words like “seasoned” and “experienced,” eliminate younger workers, while phrases like “digital native” can turn away older people. Instead of using these adjectives, recruiters should focus on the actual skills they’re looking for, which opens up the possibility of attracting talent from multiple generations. 

Culture and race 

Cultural and racial bias in job descriptions doesn't have to be as blatant as mentioning specific groups explicitly. There are subtle signals that can subconsciously communicate that a company is not inclusive. For example, talking about certain dress codes may exclude people from cultures that wear head coverings, and asking for native English speakers can exclude those who don't speak English as a first language.

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