Assessing the inclusion competency of candidates

Many companies these days are looking to recruit the most qualified talent by training interviewers to recognise unconscious bias, advertising in a diverse range of channels, and de-identifying demographic markers such as gender and age, among many new hiring practices designed to achieve more diverse shortlists.

Yet few have turned the spotlight on the candidate, and we think that’s a missed opportunity.

Selecting leaders with a high inclusion competency can enhance a company’s diversity and inclusion efforts.

Selecting leaders with a high inclusion competency can enhance a company’s diversity and inclusion efforts.

Assessing a leadership candidate’s experience in working with diversity and their inclusion competency gives an employer an opportunity to select leaders who can enhance the company’s efforts to support diversity, and role-model the types of inclusive behaviours expected.

That involves finding about the way the candidate may have handled situations where they observed (and challenged) a bias against someone from a different background than the norm. Another question might cover how they’ve challenged the status quo with an innovative process or idea, or how they’ve encouraged others to offer alternative perspectives. It can also be useful to find out about their experience in sponsoring people from diverse backgrounds to leadership positions.

Assessing a leadership candidate’s experience in working with diversity and their inclusion competency gives an employer an opportunity to select leaders who can enhance the company’s efforts to support diversity, and role-model the types of inclusive behaviours expected.

To support cognitive diversity (that is, how an individual forms ideas and approaches problem solving), it’s useful to consider how the candidate’s preferred approach to problem solving will enhance the mix in the team. You might add a question about the candidate’s experience in working with people with a different thinking approach to them.

Here’s a few more questions you might add to interview templates to help assess a candidate’s diversity and inclusion competency. They’re drawn from the guide by the Corporate Leadership Council, Beneath the Surface of Diversity Recruiting.

  • What have you done to improve your knowledge about diversity? How have you demonstrated what you have learned?

  • Tell me about a time you worked on a team with diverse backgrounds and experiences. What were the benefits and challenges of team diversity?

  • How have you handled a situation when a colleague or a direct report was not accepting of others’ background, values, or experiences?

Adding an inclusion competency is just one of more than 20 tips in our latest toolkit for leaders:  Recruiting Fairly for the Best Candidate: Reducing bias and supporting diversity and inclusion in the recruitment process.

Most of us now know that unconscious biases can narrow the recruitment talent pool, leading to poor decision-making and inhibiting diversity progress in organisations. But the action part – recognising and challenging bias during the hiring process – can be hard. Some steps are simple, like recognising words in a job description that tend to have a masculine or feminine connotation and may influence who applies. Some steps are more involved, but have a big impact in helping to achieve more diverse shortlists and hires.

The guide has tips to reduce unconscious bias when writing position descriptions, in job advertising, when shortlisting, and when interviewing.

To learn more about the recruitment toolkit, please contact us at info@diversitypartners.com.au.