It’s no secret that companies with a strong diversity and inclusion ethos tend to outperform their competitors and are more attractive places to work.
But, as with many other technical industries, automotive engineering recruitment does face ongoing challenges in attracting a more diverse pool of candidates.
Just 9% of the engineering workforce in the UK is from ethnic minority backgrounds, while 9% of engineering and technology students declared that they have a disability or impairment and 12% of workers in engineering roles are women, EngineerUK research shows.
In this article, we’ll highlight the most impactful ways to improve diversity and inclusion in recruitment practices and the main factors to consider when planning which actions to take.
Start with a Diversity and Inclusion Policy
With an official policy in place, it’s much easier to set measurable goals for diversity and inclusion in recruitment.
Effective diversity policies typically include a definition of diversity (including factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion and disability), a code of conduct, commitment to training and education of employees and accountability measures.
Of course, no diversity policy is complete without a dedicated section for recruitment. Here you could include points about outreach to underrepresented groups, fair and objective hiring processes, and regular evaluation of hiring practices for potential bias.
Take Stock of the Status Quo
Before diving into action with inclusive hiring practices, don’t skip an assessment of where the company is currently at. This can include reviewing the demographic makeup of the company, employee feedback and company policies that may be affecting how recruitment is currently done.
A proper assessment can help Hiring Managers work out which areas of the business need priority attention. For example, you might find an employee referral programme is producing hires from a narrow set of demographics and backgrounds. This would suggest it’s time for retooling the recruitment methods for that team.
Search in a Wider Talent Pool
Think about the recruitment channels your business is using currently and how these can be expanded to reach a wider pool of candidates. Why stick to one or two mainstream job sites when you can advertise roles in so many other ways?
Social media channels, industry events and websites catering to specific communities are just some spaces where an organisation can gain a more diverse audience. Adding hashtags to posts, such as #NowHiring, #Jobs, #JobSearch and #HiringNow can encourage a wider range of candidates from different backgrounds to apply for roles.
A specialist recruitment partner such as Fields & Rudd will be able to advise on the best way to source top talent in your industry, and use their existing database of passive and active candidates to support your diversity goals.
Optimise the Candidate Experience
Web accessibility is an important but sometimes overlooked factor in discussions about inclusive hiring practices. To improve accessibility, ensure the design and content of your company’s website and careers page is usable by people with disabilities, including those who use assistive technology.
Remember that candidates may be applying for jobs on their mobile devices, so optimising relevant web pages to make mobile applications easier will enable more people to apply.
When arranging interviews with candidates, ask them if they require adjustments that will enable them to attend in person or by video. Always ensure interviews are conducted at venues that are accessible to people with disabilities.
Identify Unconscious Bias
Unconscious bias refers to the unintentional or ‘automatic’ assumptions that influence our decision-making processes without our awareness. Unconscious bias may lead us to judge someone unfairly based on stereotypes or myths about race, gender, ethnicity, age, ability or simply appearance.
In the earliest stages of recruiting, an effective way to reduce bias is to remove names, addresses and other personal information from CVs before evaluating them. Assessing CVs ‘blindly’ can help Hiring Managers focus on characteristics that matter most, such as skills and experience, rather than their gender, ethnicity or which school they attended – which have no bearing on whether they can do the job!
Combating bias is just as important at interview stage. Use structured interviews to ensure all candidates are asked the same questions and are evaluated on equal terms. Doing initial interviews by phone can help interviewers avoid basing their decisions on the candidate’s appearance.
Having more than one person involved throughout the process – shortlisting candidates, in interviews and when deciding who to hire – supports accountability and keeps bias in check. Your recruitment partner can support these processes, or undertake initial stages such as shortlisting candidates on your behalf.
Use Inclusive Language
Have you read automotive engineering job descriptions that describe the ideal candidate as driven, logical, independent or similar? It’s highly likely those descriptions will appeal more to male candidates. Such is the power of language in recruitment.
To avoid using language that is skewed towards a particular demographic, review and edit every job description to make it sound as neutral as possible. There are plenty of guides available online about how to write job descriptions with inclusive language or you can talk to your recruitment partner to ensure you’re meeting requirements.
Inclusive hiring practices are iterative, rather than ‘set and forget’. Measuring progress is the best way to know the company is headed in the right direction toward its diversity and inclusion goals.
Collecting and analysing data on recruitment and retention rates, and conducting surveys to gather feedback from employees can keep hiring decision-makers accountable. Taking it one step further, by publishing diversity and inclusion reports, can also demonstrate the company’s commitment to these values.
Ready to Start Your Diversity and Inclusion Journey?
With an effective strategy in place, it is possible to develop automotive engineering teams with a richer spectrum of viewpoints, traits and expertise.
Promoting diversity and inclusion in recruitment starts with a declared commitment – but it is ultimately an ongoing process of learning and improvement. Seek feedback from candidates and track progress to make changes along the way.
As automotive engineering recruitment and search specialists, Fields & Rudd is dedicated to helping businesses in the UK and Europe build diverse automotive engineering teams. We can guide you on inclusive hiring practices and help you grow an equitable workforce where people from all backgrounds can shine. Get in touch with us today to make your strategy come to life.