Transforming hiring practices: unlocking the potential for diversity

A focus on EDI can unleash potential, drive innovation, and bridge opportunity gaps

Equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) plays a crucial role in creating a productive and innovative workforce. Industries prioritising EDI as a fundamental aspect of their business strategy are experiencing the anticipated benefits. Others can learn from their progress.

In the modern digital era, jobs are evolving at a rate of change that outstrips our ability to teach and train personnel. Hiring practices need to modernise to reflect this dynamic reality. Other than in a few highly specialist roles, a candidate with potential and aptitude is a better long-term investment than one with a long list of historical qualifications.

Change is needed.

One area in the tech sector that requires attention is recruitment. Traditional practices of filtered talent identification are hugely limiting and exclude personnel with aptitude and ambition. To fully understand the impact of these outdated models, WithYouWithMe commissioned a study with YouGov, polling over 500 UK employers.

A person’s potential

The methods used by most organisations to screen candidates – like CVs, reference checks, and cover letters – are reductive in their approach to the talent pool, seeking the ‘best’ person for the job.

Yet a person’s potential extends far beyond their experiences or opportunities they’ve previously been given. Recruitment needs to become far more inclusive.

However, half of managers say they have had no training on inclusive hiring before interviewing applicants. On top of that, less than a third (32%) of employers have mandated interview training for cultural awareness, sensitivity, and competence, dropping to 23% for LGBTQIA+ awareness and 14% for neurodiversity awareness.

Furthermore, 54% of hiring managers said they do not accommodate physical access or mobility barriers during the hiring process, making it impossible for some candidates to participate, regardless of their suitability for the role.

Well-established processes become embedded in the very fabric of business; it’s often hard to break tradition – but a wholesale change is vital for digital success.

Opening up career pathways

To see 62% of organisations still relying solely on reference checks, CVs, and cover letters is concerning, as it’s clear that diverse individuals – including overlooked individuals, whether military personnel, refugees, or people who identify as neurodivergent – remain at a serious disadvantage, not because of their aptitude or competence, but because of the inherent bias of the current flawed system.

Cognitive ability, measured with aptitude assessments, is a significant predictor of job performance and supports employers in making data-driven decisions on the best candidates. It helps shift hiring models from being based on past experience to focusing on future potential. Currently, only 11% of employers in the UK use psychometric or aptitude assessments for applicant screening.

There is a clear disconnect between what organisations believe they are offering and the reality for the tens of thousands of under-presented people looking for meaningful work. All those who look different, many who think differently, are denied a career pathway because of their CV rather than their aptitude and ability to perform in a role.

For the benefit of both

The economic challenges caused by the absence of inclusive hiring practices in the workforce cannot be overstated. The digital skills shortage we’ve seen publicised in recent months proves there are flaws within the hiring model. The reality is that those in charge of talent hiring are not considering every option resulting in diverse individuals being overlooked by the current system.

The industry is more than capable of changing this situation.

Employers need to explore more ways to make the hiring process more inclusive and accessible for the benefit of both industry and marginalised groups. Thousands of diverse individuals with invaluable skills and extensive experience are looking for meaningful work. Employers need to take responsibility for bridging this gap.

By Sally Walker, Advisor, WithYouWithMe.

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