Diversity questions in tenders are often viewed with scepticism by recruiters, however tendering processes are increasingly weighted in favour of those organisations with diversity initiatives in place, therefore by improving your approach to diversity, you should also be able to improve your tender results!
We’ve therefore grilled Dawn Milman-Hurst, a leading Diversity Consultant and the CEO of Equal of Approach – an “exemplar” business following physical audit by Investors in Diversity to understand some of the changes that recruitment agencies can make to become a more effective in the area of diversity.
Equality vs Diversity
Many agencies confuse diversity with equality. Equal opportunities is driven by legislation , with a focus on removing discrimination, harassment and victimisation from the workplace. It’s about treating people fairly and equally regardless of their gender, marital status, race, religion, colour, age, disability or sexual orientation.
By contrast, diversity is all about championing difference – going above and beyond being fair or just complying with legislation. So, to score highly in diversity related questions, you need to demonstrate how you can attract and recruit a more diverse workforce for your clients.
Recruitment and selection are just two elements of the “diversity lifecycle” and it’s important to consider a much broader picture to enable clients to source, recruit and retain more “candidates with difference”. It’s also about how you as the recruiter and your clients are positioned with diverse communities in terms of reputation, and how you manage employees from diverse backgrounds from the point of application to the point that they leave the organisation.
Protected Characteristics (PCs) and Candidates with Difference
The law identifies “protected characteristics” – PCs (previously known as the strands of diversity) as sex; race (including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin); religion or belief; age; disability; marital status and civil partnership; sexual orientation; gender reassignment; pregnancy and maternity, however clients are increasingly interested in how agencies will achieve a workforce with diverse social differences too, tackling sensitive areas such as obesity, class and education.
So to answer diversity questions, you need to consider:
- How to attract more diverse candidates.
- How you’ll support diverse candidates during the recruitment process.
- How to ensure candidates with difference are retained and go on to perform in the job.
- How to measure the success in terms of attracting and placing diverse candidates.
- How you ensure your staff are well equipped to support diverse candidates and advise clients on diversity issues.
Considerations for Tenders
- What is the diversity make up of your own company? Consider areas such as gender, disability, race and provide breakdowns of your board and employees. If you’ve got a diverse workforce, you’re much more likely to be able to attract more candidates with difference for your clients.
- Monitor diversity at several points during the recruitment process. Diversity questionnaires should be separated from the application to avoid bias or discrimination, so to get a clear picture of the diversity breakdown throughout the process you will need to undertake monitoring at several stages during the recruitment process (e.g. at initial application, interview, offer).
- Conduct demographic and sector research to establish if your applicants are representative of the communities from which they are drawn. If you have under-representation, you need to look at the barriers that the particular group faces and implement positive actions to remove these.
- Advertise vacancies using diversity jobboards as well as more traditional media (e.g. diversityjobs or evenbreak)
- Word advertising and job descriptions in an inclusive manner.
- Build relationships with diversity partners to network more candidates from PC groups and to understand better how to remove barriers to candidates with difference. Examples include ENEI (Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion), The Business Disability Forum, Stonewall, Remploy etc.
- Gather evidence of your diversity performance (e.g. of the last 100 placements what % were candidates from a PC group, or what % of your temporary workforce is from a PC group?). Quote these stats in tenders.
- Consider working towards a relevant diversity accreditation such as Clear Assured, Two Ticks Positive about Disabled People, Supporting Age Positive or Mindful Employer….or you can go the “whole hog” and work towards Investors in Diversity or National Equality Standards.
- Demonstrate that you’ve got the processes and expertise to deal with diverse candidates (e.g. documents in alternative formats, accessible premises, disabled parking, removing names and dates of birth/education from CVs to remove unconscious bias, ensuring activities at assessments centres don’t discriminate against people who are disabled etc).
- Conduct diversity training with operational staff and ensure that they are confident to deal with diverse candidates. You might want to consider appointing a “diversity champion” who is responsible for keeping up to date with best practice in the diversity space.
- Have a diversity audit done to analyse job and person specifications, advertising & candidate attraction channels, standard forms & documents, the interview process, employee on-boarding processes, digital/website accessibility, methods of communication, social media, skills testing and assessment etc. A diversity audit can form part of a stepped process into differentiating your agency and won’t break the bank!
With grateful thanks for invaluable input to this article from Dawn Milman-Hurst, Chief Executive of Equal Approach.
Equal Approach is a leading provider of inclusive recruitment and diversity consultancy services, so why not schedule a call?