Written by Sally-Ann King | 12th February 2024

An inclusive workplace is vital to creating a happier, more rounded team – and therefore a key contributing factor to the success of your business. EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) should be a core component of every business’s talent acquisition strategy – it is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’, but a necessity, and here’s why.

Why is EDI so important?

Inclusion is more than just a buzzword – and not just something to pay lip service to. In an environment where recruitment is difficult, having a positive and active approach to EDI can be the difference between securing or losing the best candidates.

In a 2023 survey from YouGov, two-thirds of UK workers said that the acceptance and inclusion of employees from all backgrounds is important to them when searching for jobs.

Younger employees also value diversity and inclusion more than their older counterparts. In the same survey of 2000 UK employees, 78% of 18-to–24-year-olds said it is important to them when job searching, compared to 60% of respondents aged over 55.

The key lesson is this – ignoring EDI could result in your business losing its best talent or failing to attract candidates. Here are four ways you can make EDI a part of your recruitment strategy.

  1. Embed EDI into your culture

Although it can take time, the best way to improve your EDI practices is to embed them into your company culture.

It’s about creating working environments and cultures where every individual in your team can feel safe, a sense of belonging and is empowered to achieve their full potential.

Some of the ways you can do this include; developing an open culture with good communication between managers and employees, train all your employees to understand and engage with EDI in how they do their jobs and work with colleagues, make it clear that everyone has a personal responsibility to uphold these standards and embed EDI in performance management and all managers’ roles; they have a key role to play, behaving in an inclusive way.

  1. Be inclusive of mental health and wellbeing

EDI isn’t just about age, disability, race, belief, sexual orientation, it is also about being inclusive with your colleagues who may have mental health/medical issues.

You can start by talking with your employees– day to day by having regular catchups, appraisals, and if necessary, consider implementing a wellness action plan . Ensure you’re asking them about how well they believe EDI is embraced in their teams and in the business as a whole.

Armed with this knowledge, you can spot areas where improvement is needed, identify training needs and begin to form a plan that builds EDI credentials.

As with many aspects of HR, communication is key – as well as listening, it is important to be honest and clear in your approach and if you feel your business falls short in some areas, let your people know how you intend to address the problems. People who feel their input is listened to are more likely to participate, contributing to a culture where everybody’s views, values and individual strengths are valued, regardless of their background.

  1. Offer flexible roles

Offering flexible roles can greatly increase the quality of candidates you attract – and ensure you don’t exclude people who would potentially make great employees. This may involve offering flexible hours, or remote working.

According to a CIPD survey into flexible working, 66% of companies offering flexible or hybrid working said it allowed them to attract and retain more staff. A lack of flexibility also prompted career changes among some employees. When considering a new role, 71% of workers said that being able to have a flexible working pattern was important to them.

Being a flexible employer can help ensure that you are not eliminating people from specific backgrounds, those who have childcare needs, or people who do not have the means to commute into your place of work.

  1. Work to prevent unconscious bias

Limiting unconscious bias within your recruitment process helps to promote positive EDI. Unconscious bias occurs when we make quick judgements about someone based on their age, disability, race, belief, sexual orientation or any other demographic feature – characteristics that have nothing to do with their suitability for a role.

Characteristics such as training and qualifications – or soft skills such as communication and emotional intelligence are much more relevant.

Find out more about the ways to help limit unconscious bias within your business and recruitment process.

  1. Focus on skills

One of the best ways to include EDI in your recruitment strategy is to change your mindset and focus on recruiting for skills, rather than people.

Identifying skill gaps within your team, and advertising to fill those roles, will attract a diverse range of candidates and create opportunities for all applicants.  Advertising on EDI job boards is also a great way to attract candidates from diverse backgrounds.  Ensure that the language in the attraction material is also inclusive.

This prevents focusing too much on a type of person and will naturally open the door to candidates who have the skills but who may previously have not been the type of candidate you would have considered. It can help overcome conscious and unconscious bias and improve your business for the better.


How we can support you with recruitment

We can design and run the whole process or the parts where you need most recruitment support.

Depending on your specific requirements our specialists can sift applications, deal with enquiries from candidates and recruiters, develop interview questions and run assessment centres or psychometric testing to assess each candidate’s suitability not just for the job, but for the unique culture of your business.

Our support doesn’t have to stop with the hire – we will support with onboarding, and probation and development as your new employees grow with you right through to retention.

Call us now on 01256 328 428 to discuss your recruitment requirements or email [email protected] and one of our team will get back to you.