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Four female members of the Morgan Sindall Construction team wearing Personal Protective Equipment

BLOG: Business growth by inclusion: improving processes for success

As the Yorkshire and North East (Y&NE) region continues to grow, HR Business Partner, David Christian has been working closely with the leadership team to establish what success looks like for their business unit.

Just like any other organisation, a business’ success stems from its people, so when it comes to recruiting, it’s imperative that the best candidates are selected for the job. However, as is the case across many industries, the team in Y&NE are facing the very real challenge of securing diverse talent from the market. Because of this, they have been working towards improving their recruitment process by focusing on how to be instinctively inclusive when defining resource gaps, attracting, assessing and onboarding talent, in order to give themselves the best possible chance of recruiting the right people who can take the business forward.

Moving away from unconscious bias and working towards conscious inclusion.

Knowing where you want to improve is one thing, knowing how to improve is the next.

As always, it’s best to start at the beginning. The Y&NE team have first acknowledged the unconscious bias that can lead to a lack of institutional diversity. As humans, we are creatures of habit and tend to hire who or what we know. On top of this, rushed vacancy turnarounds can lead managers to stick with tried and tested methods, making it difficult to engage new and diverse talent.

Being actively conscious of this bias is therefore paramount before the recruitment process even begins. As a result, David, working alongside Clair Spencer, HR Advisor, have established an Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) working group who have come up with a set of 10 Inclusive Recruitment Principles (see below) which will be applied to all recruitment activity in the business unit going forward. These principles will effectively act as a checklist for hiring managers to ensure they are appointing talent into the organisation from the largest pool possible.

In summary, the team are taking a step back to look at the process as a whole. Starting at the very beginning, the team will be proactively advertising through targeted recruitment agencies and making sure inclusive language is used within job descriptions to avoid things such as gender bias. The team are also working towards introducing anonymised CV applications to avoid discriminatory presumptions and to allow candidates a fair and equal opportunity to be judged based on their skills and competencies. Interviews will include a diverse panel of interviewers, incorporating people not just from managerial positions, but from varied backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences where possible. Most importantly, opportunities will be appointed based on timing and resource requirement as opposed to when established individuals become available.

The principles are as follows:

  1. Pro-active Recruitment: Resource Planning and Pipelining Activity will inform recruitment activity in advance
  2. Formal appointments will be made based on timing and nature of resource requirement not known resource capability/availability in market
  3. “Promote from within” to be balanced with opportunity to increase diversity whilst ensuring best fit for role
  4. ATS to be used to track all vacancies and candidates
  5. Flexible Working Inclusivity statement on all vacancy marketing material
  6. Two-stage Morgan Sindall Construction assessment process at a minimum with more than one method of assessment
  7. Pro-active consideration to be made to how/where we advertise vacancies to increase diversity of applicant
  8. Name/gender/ethnicity identifiers to be removed from CVs before sending to hiring manager for short-listing (if/when practicable)
  9. Female member of staff to be present during assessment process (when possible)
  10. Recruitment agencies to adhere to principles when sourcing/presenting candidates

Building long-term diversity

It’s important to recognise that it’s not enough to focus on just hiring diversity, but to maintain it. David and the team have recognised that building an inclusive office culture can help create an environment where everyone feels valued and encouraged. Even from a business perspective, having co-workers with different mindsets and cultural experiences means they approach problems differently and find solutions that less diverse workforces don’t.

Furthermore, this won’t just encourage staff retention, but employees are more likely to encourage others to join our workforce, making us an even more diverse and inclusive organisation and therefore, a more successful one.

Of course, this process isn’t linear and will require time, money and effort, but as the Y&NE business has already established, it’s about challenging biases and being bold with actions and behaviours to ensure everyone is respected and heard, as being inclusive is vital for business growth and success.

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