How can an SME use recruitment to become more diverse?

April 18, 2022

Having a diverse workforce can bring so many benefits to a small business, especially around innovation, different mindsets and perspectives. It can often enrich the very fabric of an organisation. However, a workforce doesn’t become diverse overnight and it might seem a daunting prospect understanding where to start to achieve the diversity levels you aspire to within your own small business.

Developing a recruitment strategy with a focus on diversity is a great first step towards creating a diverse organisation, bringing in a wider range of skills and experience. It can also enable a business to source talent from a larger and more varied talent pool which is an important advantage to have in circumstances where it is very much a candidate’s market. Diversity is also a good moral choice and speaks volumes about a business’ values thus promoting a positive employer brand. This is important for all businesses and never more so for SMEs who are also competing for the best talent in a difficult market.

Here are some steps you can take to improve diversity through recruitment:

Consider your aim

It is never wise to have a scatter gun approach – think about what you are trying to achieve and what a good outcome looks like for your strategy. For example, you might want to recruit more women into senior roles, or ensure your workforce represents the mix of ethnic backgrounds in your location.

Review your job adverts

Consider what type of audience your job adverts speak to and whether it is only a narrow range of candidates. Check the tone and language to ensure your advert appeals to a wider group and/or the very demographic you are trying to attract. For example, if you are looking to recruit more women into the business, you may want to highlight how you support family friendly policies and/or flexible working.

Think about whether you are looking in the right places

Having decided upon your goals and worked on your job advert, don’t be tempted to rely on your usual sources for candidates. Do some research into where your ideal candidates hang out. For example, are there any networking groups and forums for women looking to advance their careers in more senior roles?

Why not target these groups and reach out to them to see if they can feature your business and the types of roles you have?

Be open-minded about your requirements

Do your ideal candidates really need experience in the same industry, really need that degree? Think more about the traits which are important to you, for example, work ethic, willingness to learn, attitude and mindset. Some demographics might be less likely to have been to university but could bring valuable experience and could have learned the skills you need ‘on the job’ at a previous employer instead.

Similarly, your industry might be male-dominated, or have a very high proportion of employees from one racial group. Specifying industry experience could exacerbate that problem rather than solving it.

Don’t automatically require full time working- think about whether the role could be done flexibly.

Develop your employer brand

It is so important to get your business ‘out there’ and showcase all you stand for and your ambitions around diversity. Writing blogs and doing podcasts are a great way of getting your brand noticed and people talking about you, and making your SME an appealing place to work will help you improve the diversity of your workforce.

Recruitment methods

Consider using emerging trends such as ‘blind’ CVs and interviews. Blind CVs are where all personal information is removed to stop you making sub conscious judgements about a person. Blind interviews work on a similar basis and are often used in the initial conversations with candidates by telephone.

Some small adjustments in your recruitment strategy can make a big difference in creating a more diverse workforce. If you would like more advice or guidance for your business, please do get in touch.