The importance of a diverse and inclusive workforce has never been greater. Studies demonstrate that diversity in the IT workplace promotes better business outcomes. Diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors financially and 17% more likely to be innovation leaders.

What’s more, 80% of candidates say they prioritise evidence of inclusion when choosing a new employer. Unfortunately, unconscious bias remains a consistent problem in the recruitment landscape, influencing hiring decisions. 

With this in mind, business leaders need a strategy to champion diversity and inclusion with existing employees and when sourcing new candidates. 

Here are several ways hiring teams and managers can optimise recruitment for diversity and inclusion. 

1. Create a Diverse Hiring Team

The first step in developing a more diverse and inclusive recruitment strategy is to diversify the people responsible for evaluating your IT candidates. 

Unconscious bias affects all of us, but how it influences our decisions varies depending on our backgrounds and experiences.

Making the recruitment process a collaborative effort, driven by a team of people with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, reduces the risk of one set of biases influencing every recruitment choice. 

When several individuals are involved in the hiring process, including team leaders and professionals from different departments, people can work together to ensure the focus is on finding the IT candidate with the right skills. There’s less risk of issues like “affinity bias” getting in the way. Plus, we’re more likely to see the biases in others than in ourselves, leading to a higher level of accountability among your group. 

A good way to get an edge is to work with an IT recruitment company already trained in diverse recruiting to guide your process. 

2. Develop Inclusive Job Descriptions

Inclusive job descriptions are essential to capturing the attention of a diverse range of candidates. Yet research from the CIPD, a respected body in the U.K., shows less than a fifth of employers make efforts to remove bias from job adverts and descriptions. In a competitive talent landscape, it’s common for business leaders to use eye-catching and flowery language to engage potential employees.

However, some of this language can unintentionally show bias. For instance, certain terms like “decisive” and “ambitious” are seen as stereotypically masculine, while others like “compassionate” can be seen as feminine. 

There are even terms in IT job descriptions that can show a preference for a candidate of a specific age, such as “young go-getter” or “industry veteran”. 

Carefully assess your job descriptions to find words associated with identity-based stereotypes using online language decoders or working with your recruitment or search partner. 

Focus on highlighting the skills, competencies, and qualifications required for a role rather than highlighting desired traits. 

Additionally, ensure your IT job descriptions highlight your company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion by drawing attention to your versatile culture. 

3. Implement Blind CV Screening

As we have already mentioned, unconscious bias is a persistent issue that’s difficult to overcome in any recruitment process. According to Harvard Business Review, up to 97% of hiring managers still say they rely on intuition or gut instinct when evaluating a candidate. 

Unfortunately, in the IT industry, reliance on intuition can allow unconscious bias and preferences to get in the way of intelligent hiring decisions. Blind CV screening can address this problem by removing the unimportant information affecting hiring choices.

Use A.I. technology, or ask your IT recruitment partner to remove personally identifiable information from applications such as names, addresses and photos. This will allow hiring managers to focus their attention on examining the skills and competencies of each applicant rather than homing in on irrelevant factors. 

4. Use Structured Interviews

In recent years, unstructured and informal interviews have become increasingly common in IT. Yet studies show that structured interviews are more effective at helping hiring managers predict their candidates’ potential job performance.

With structured interviews, hiring teams ask candidates a predefined set of questions, chosen based on the recruitment goals of the organisation. Responses are then scored using consistent criteria to help determine the best fit for the role. 

For instance, a question could test whether a candidate is aware of the risks involved in a particular process, and then scores could be given for each risk identified. A structured process is an excellent way to ensure every candidate is evaluated fairly. They make it easier for panels to compare candidates using relevant criteria directly. 

5. Offer Diversity Training

Studies indicate around 13 common hiring biases, yet many business leaders aren’t aware of what they are. As a result, creating an inclusive and diverse IT hiring strategy starts with awareness. 

Training your hiring managers and team members on diversity, equity, and inclusion topics can help them identify and mitigate their biases. Educate your team members on the importance of diversity and make it easy for them to understand where biases come from.

For instance, you could provide insights into the origins of confirmation bias, where people often look for evidence to support their assumptions and ignore contradictory information. While it’s important to ensure business leaders and hiring managers access this training, it’s also worth ensuring the same training is available to every team member.

This will help to create a more diverse and inclusive company culture where everyone sees the value of eliminating bias and discrimination. 

Bonus Tip: Set Diversity Goals and Metrics

Finally, one additional way to ensure diversity and inclusion throughout your IT business is to set specific goals. Examine your existing workforce, and ask yourself where to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

You may decide it’s important to increase the number of women in your management team or ensure you offer employment opportunities to younger and older candidates. A hiring dashboard can give you a better insight into your level of diversity and inclusion and ensure you can measure your progress towards each goal you set.

Identify key metrics to monitor, such as retention rates per group, employee engagement levels, and the number of staff members hired from different backgrounds. Clear goals and metrics will help keep your IT business accountable when implementing D.E.I. strategies. 

Transform Your Hiring Process with Diversity and Inclusion

Today’s IT teams rely on high levels of diversity and inclusion for business success. A more diverse team leads to greater productivity and improves financial performance. At the same time, inclusion paves the way for better employee engagement and retention. 

Implementing the above mentioned strategies will ensure you’re widening your talent pool and sourcing professionals from different backgrounds in a skills-short hiring landscape. An IT recruitment agency can also help give you an edge by introducing new and effective ways to eliminate bias from your hiring methods.