How to deliver diverse & inclusive recruitment

The positive impact a diverse workforce has on business is well documented. Discover how to implement a diverse recruitment strategy before embedding inclusivity across everything you do.

While you may be attempting to put processes in place to make strides towards a diverse talent pipeline, what happens when you’re still not seeing gains? Find out below how you can accelerate inclusive recruitment practices now.

1.   Move beyond blind CVs

Blind CVs have been around for the past decade but have yet to prove themselves the silver bullet to ensure a sustained stream of diverse talent. There can be disadvantages to requiring blind CVs, especially when used in isolation.

“Hiring managers can often over focus on the information they do have in a blind CV and make assumptions about a candidate’s background, thus detracting from the application process.”
Sue Watson, Building Inclusive Futures Consulting

2.   Elevate inclusive recruitment

Make inclusion part of your strategic business objectives and attach targets, specific to recruitment, to it. This way everyone in the organisation is responsible for making it happen, and has something tangible to work towards. Inclusion cannot be something that sits in isolation with the HR and recruitment teams, but instead must become part of the fabric of your culture.

“At River Island we believe it’s our people that make us what we are. We want to be diverse at every level, we want to reflect the customers we serve and the communities in which we operate. We are on a journey with Blueprint for All, to ensure we continue to build a diverse and inclusive workplace culture. This is a board level priority, and we are setting goals throughout the business, beyond recruitment targets, to reflect the change we want to see.”
Chief People Officer, River Island

3.  Look inwardly at your organisation

We recommend that organisations begin with an audit, which will provide a current state analysis and provide a roadmap for change. What are you doing already and why isn’t it working? Are your people processes, suppliers or partners creating barriers?



4.   Review your job specifications

Are your job specs fit for purpose or are they a historical document that is perhaps no longer relevant? Seek expert input to ensure that job descriptions and person specifications use language and criteria that do not inadvertently exclude people from diverse backgrounds.



“We realised that by asking for a degree for all our head office experienced hire roles, we were excluding a huge number of candidates who have risen through the ranks at our competitors. By removing these criteria, along with other barriers in our process, we have been able to positively impact the diversity of our experienced hire talent pipeline.”
Building Inclusive Futures Consulting, Client 2021

If you require a 2:1 degree from a Russell Group university, you are potentially creating an unnecessary barrier to entry, and limiting your access to a wider talent pool.

According to the Social Mobility Foundation, young people from vulnerable socioeconomic backgrounds make up only 5% of students at the UK’s most selective universities, in 2019. And just 21% of students at Russell Group universities are from communities of diverse ethnic heritage, in comparison to up to 75% outside the Russell Group.



It is important to reflect on what competencies and qualifications the role you are recruiting for needs. Challenging historic practices and processes, against the current landscape of the role you are recruiting for, should be considered a basic premise of creating a person specification and job description.

5.   The candidate experience

Critique your recruitment process from end to end, to equalise the candidate experience. Is your assessment process fair to everyone? Consider the assumptions you might make about a candidate’s life experiences when you review CVs. For example, candidates who have experienced more disadvantages…

  • May not have had access to the same career advice and support as their contemporaries.
  • Ability to be involved in extracurricular activities may have been limited by their personal circumstance.
  • Could be the first in their family to go to university or apply for a role in an organisation.
  • May not have access to a quiet space for video interviewing.
  • Could have developed transferable skills through life experiences.


“We are taking diverse recruitment seriously. Our current employees have been central in our journey to becoming a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Their experiences and advice have been pivotal in developing our strategy. We are committed to working with external organisations, such as Blueprint for All, to help us transform and hold us accountable. We have put systems and targets in place to increase diverse representation, from entry level associates to experienced hires.”
Senior Partner, Stephenson Harwood

6.   Entry level inclusion – internships

Unpaid internships can act as substantial barriers to those without the financial support to undertake them. Moreover, the provision of internships and work experience more generally can be prohibitive when only made available to colleagues, family, and friends. Opportunities should be paid and extended to a diverse range of schools and universities supplying the future talent pipeline.


“The entry level talent pool in our industry has historically thrived on a ‘who you know’ basis. We are working to change that and therefore now offer 40 ‘earn and learn’ scholarships to graduates via Blueprint for All, to ensure a steady pipeline of diverse entry level talent. These ambitious graduates will therefore be equipped to attain longer-term employment opportunities within our firm and beyond.”
Senior Partner, Professional Services Firm

7.   Challenge your recruitment partners

Recruiters are often at the fulcrum of a company’s recruitment strategy. However, a consistent lack of diversity in long candidate lists should be challenged.

“We know that diverse candidates often need more support through the recruitment processes. That’s why we do a lot of work with our candidates up front to get them interview ready, from training to CV building, we support them through the recruitment process. On top of this, when we place diverse candidates via Blueprint for All, we donate a proportion of our fee to the charity so they can continue to positively impact the lives and careers of young people.”
Managing Director, urban

Here are some ways you can get the most out of your relationship with recruiters.

Communicate your values

Ensuring your recruiters understand your corporate values, is the first step to guaranteeing they comprehend your requirements and intentions. Do your recruiters share your aspirations for a diverse and inclusive workforce? Choose to work with partners who clearly articulate their approach to diverse recruitment and can evidence tangible results.

“Constructively challenge shortlists that do not reflect your inclusive recruitment goals. Be clear about what diversity means to your organisation. Explain, in detail what you expect, so your recruitment partners are clear about what a successful candidate pool looks like for you.“
Sonia Watson, CEO, Blueprint for All

Agree targets

Your external recruitment consultants should be your preferred supplier for a reason – because they are achieving your objectives. Set diversity targets at every level of the recruitment process from long and shortlists through to placements, and measure their success.

8.   Move from a diverse talent attraction mindset to an inclusive culture mindset

Don’t expect success to be determined solely on getting more numbers of diverse applications through the door. Think holistically about your business, culture and employer brand. Ask yourself: how can you support all employees from entry to board level to succeed and thrive, as opposed to survive in your organisation?


  • Create an onboarding roadmap for success for new employees, to review and feedback on their experience.
  • Identify development needs within the first 100 days, and create ongoing professional development plans.
  • Identify future senior leaders and create bespoke opportunities to help them succeed. Remember, those who have experienced disadvantage may not have had sufficient access to learning and development opportunities.
  • Anticipate what additional support is needed to facilitate an equal chance for success within your organisation.
  • Establish a reverse mentoring programme to provide senior leaders with first-hand knowledge of the lived experiences of their diverse employees.

Find out more about how to create an inclusive workplace culture in our latest article here

Read article

Embark on the journey to an inclusive culture

Systemic change in any organisation takes time. Think about what an inclusive work culture looks like in your organisation, then reach out to Blueprint for All.

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