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EDI – more than just letters

Published on: 15 Feb 2024

For recruiters it is more important than ever to ensure your equality, diversity and inclusion approach is clear and deep-rooted in your organisation, as Anj Popat and Jo Major explain

A successful recruitment partnership along with an embedded inclusive culture, especially for local authorities, must reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. Studies by McKinsey and Forbes underscore the importance of diverse management teams in developing effective business strategies. This is crucial in local government, where leadership should embody the community’s diversity. However, reports by the Local Government Association and the County Councils’ Network (as outlined in last week’s The MJ), reveal a stark lack of diversity at senior levels and challenges in attracting talent across all generations, especially younger generations who value social impact over financial incentives.

This however, presents local government with a golden opportunity to redouble their efforts in demonstrating how they nurture greater inclusion and diversity. It means a more strategic approach to recruitment, focusing on what needs to be in place to attract diverse talent, what information should be shared with recruitment partners, and how to maintain this inclusivity after hiring.

True equity goes beyond certifications, requiring clear communication on how your organisation ensures accessibility and support, across all protected characteristics. Bridging the gap between promises and reality is essential, this means more precise articulation of support mechanisms and accessibility features within the workplace is necessary.

Outline your equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) actions. Actively demonstrate what it is you do as an organisation that showcases genuine inclusion; this could include things such as sharing information on how you have employed disability consultants, conducted workplace assessments, provided neurodiversity training to managers, and implemented specific adjustments to support an inclusive environment. These efforts help level the playing field and build trust by sharing your authority’s progress as well as outline the accommodations available during recruitment and beyond.

To build candidate trust, demonstrate a genuine commitment to EDI by detailing the practical steps taken to cultivate an inclusive culture. This could include supporting employees with caregiving responsibilities, especially relevant with an ageing population, and outlining assistance for those with long-term health conditions. It’s about showing, not just telling, how your organisation lives its EDI values.

For many who have had first-hand experience of discrimination, overcoming the physiological barriers is a challenge and a simple statement of intent from an employer will not suffice. Too often such statements aren’t backed-up by reality. Therefore, ensure you demonstrate your commitment through specific, real world examples and that your statements are grounded in tangible practices.

So how best to tell these stories and how much should you share? When briefing the job to your recruiter, remember to qualify how important EDI is to all functions of your organisation. This level of detail will probably not all go into the job ad, which is merely a marketing snapshot, though it is important for a recruiter and council to have a deep dive with one another – qualifying and discovering the depth and breadth of the equity offering to ensure that candidates feel they are able to disclose early and appropriate adjustments are provided throughout the recruitment and onboarding process.

Therefore good communication is key. Ineffective EDI communication often stems from insufficient briefing, leading to misaligned candidate selection and resultant financial costs. Ensuring your recruiter fully understands the job requirements and your organisational culture, including your values and leadership style, is therefore crucial. A thorough briefing, including a separate session with the EDI lead, helps integrate employer value propositions, benefits, and policies into the recruitment process. Regularly updating these briefs and conducting annual EDI reviews with your search agency are essential steps to align with candidate expectations and avoid costly mismatches.

Addressing their expectations directly can improve immediate hiring outcomes but also establishes your organisation as a preferred employer for future leaders. Therefore in order to effectively promote your EDI proposition through recruitment partners, you must provide comprehensive details on your EDI journey, benefits, interview inclusivity practices, and ensure the job descriptions reflect current practices and expectations.

Highlighting your EVP is key, so focus on culture, ethics, and how your environment facilitates inclusivity, beyond superficial measures. Communicating your EVP and inclusive practices should be a constant focus, not limited to the recruitment process, but as part of an ongoing commitment across the organisation. By integrating EVP into the core of your operations, you not only create a more positive internal culture but you can also enhance your attractiveness to interim hires and long-term employees alike.

Creating these inclusive cultures is of critical importance, as people need to land in these types of environments – otherwise you run the risk of damaging their careers and confidence. The consequences of being hired because of your identity can never be underestimated.

However, by adopting a deep-rooted approach to EDI, you can foster a sense of belonging and provide safeguards. Partnering with reputable recruitment agencies will ensure you’re not navigating the path alone. Establishing a strong, early relationship with your recruiter can enable you to articulate your EDI journey to candidates with greater clarity, purpose, and impact, thereby enhancing the effectiveness of your recruitment strategy.  n

Jo Major is the director at Diversity in Recruitment and Anj Popat is associate director at Tile Hill