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How to Increase Diversity and Inclusion in Your Executive Hiring Processes

Alison Ryan

The global focus on the importance of diversity and inclusion in high performing senior management teams has led many organisations to question how they can improve the diversity of their workforce.  The unconscious biases of Board Members, HR teams and Hiring Managers can all lead to the recruitment of staff who look, sound and behave in the same ways.  However, there are simple steps every organisation can take to reduce the impact of unconscious bias on their hiring processes:


  • Make your job descriptions as inclusive as possible

It is very common for job descriptions to include adjectives which are more associated with one particular gender and it's important to stop using these.  Your job description should encourage everyone with the right skills to apply; regardless of their age, gender or race.  Our recommendation is to simply list the essential criteria, rather than a long list of desirable criteria.  Always ask a colleague to check for bias in a job description before it is published.


  • Include blind screening as part of your hiring process

Remove all names and personal details from every CV before you screen the applications.  This prevents any unconscious bias from influencing your decisions on which candidates to progress to interview stage.


  • Conduct structured and standardised interviews

Hiring decisions are too often based on personality, and how much the interviewer likes the candidate.  And if there are multiple interviewers, it is even more important to be sure that each candidate has the same interview experience and the same assessment criteria.  By structuring and standardising your interviews, you make it much easier to compare applicants objectively. 


  • Make sure your hiring committee is diverse and inclusive

Make sure that every applicant meets more than one interviewer as part of the selection process so that you can screen out each other's unconscious biases.  The more diverse and inclusive your hiring committee can be, the more chance you will end up with a diverse and inclusive workforce.


  • Include a practical work test as part of the assessment process

Before selecting the successful candidate, we always recommend setting a practical test which will allow the potential Executive to demonstrate their abilities.  Their performance in this test should be the best indicator of how they will perform if appointed, so this should be assessed objectively and considered as an integral part of the process.


These simple steps should help all organisations to ensure that they hire the best, diverse, and most inclusive Executive team.


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