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Inclusive Recruitment - when we know better, we do better.

Updated: May 8

[Image is of a modern workspace with four people sitting in a meeting]

I was reading a post from an employer on LinkedIn today who was discussing the influx of job applications his company had received lately. Reading some of the quite ableist-seeming comments from his readers left me feeling a little sad. Then I stopped, remembered, and reflected on my own recruitment practices of days gone by...

Recruiting by the "Rules"

As a leader and, later, HR Practitioner, I've done my fair share of recruitment. In the early days, I recall being a stickler for the "Rules" that I deemed important in order for a person to progress through the process. These included:

  1. Were the application instructions followed to a T? No? They can't follow instructions, they're not for me.

  2. Were there typos or poor grammar in the cover letter or CV? Yes? Gone - they have no attention to detail.

  3. Did the CV evidence short periods of employment and employment gaps? Unreliable, I'm not interested.

  4. In the interview - did they look me in the eyes? No? Untrustworthy.

And on it went. These are examples of the "known" list I had, it doesn't even take into account some of the subconscious bias that may have been involved!

When we know better, we do better.

As professionals, we're constantly learning. Looking at recruitment through the lens of Neurodiversity, we know so much more now, which allows us to do better.

Through this lens, not one of the examples outlined above would result in an instant "no". For instance:

  1. Application instructions - were they accessible?

  2. Typos & poor grammar - what is the role the person's applying for? Are top-notch spelling and grammar essential skills for this role? Evidence shows, for example, that those who are Dyslexic bring (among other things) entrepreneurial skills, innovation, and creativity. Are we dismissing the best in the talent pool for this role because we're worried about a spelling mistake or two?

  3. A "spotty" work history: research shows, and anecdotally we know, that this can be a challenge for some of our neurodivergent colleagues. There are many reasons for this, one of them is due to organisational systems that are designed to meet the needs of Neurotypical employees only (which is a much smaller number than we realise!).

  4. Holding people to certain body language standards can be "othering". For some people, eye contact is not a natural or easy thing - the conscious effort required to do this can result in difficulties focusing on and processing the conversation being held, while for others, it is physically painful to do.

It's fantastic to see those organisations that embrace truly inclusive recruitment practices and in so doing, access a much wider net of outstanding talent.

I'd love to hear how others are evolving their recruitment practices to remove those barriers to employment!

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