In today's global economy, it is essential to have a diverse workforce that represents different cultures, perspectives, and experiences.
A work team that includes people with distinct backgrounds and skills can bring creativity, innovation, and new perspectives to a business. Such a team improves problem-solving and results in a better understanding of diverse communities. However, achieving diversity in recruitment requires more than good intentions; it requires a cultural shift within the organisation.
This article lists 17 crucial practices for the culturally sensitive recruiter, from analysing the reasons for pursuing diversity to understanding cultural differences and language barriers in job listings. By following these practices, businesses can create a more inclusive and productive work environment that values diversity and supports the development of intercultural networks.
1. Analyse the reasons you want diverse recruitment
When it comes to diversity recruiting, it is essential to analyse the reasons behind the drive for a diverse workplace. Diversity hiring should not be pursued simply for diversity's sake, as this can lead to tokenism and ultimately be counterproductive.
Instead, reflect on the benefits of diversity, such as improved creativity, innovation, problem-solving, and a better understanding of and connection with diverse communities. By striving for diversity with these advantages in mind, companies can create a genuinely inclusive and productive work environment.
2. Train recruiters on improving intercultural competence
Be mindful of cultural biases and how they can impact recruitment decisions. Today, many international businesses offer intercultural competence training to their employees. Such training programs build a workforce sensitive to cultural differences and biases while enhancing the productivity of diverse teams by minimising misunderstandings.
In the context of diverse recruiting, ensuring that your team is culturally sensitive can create a welcoming environment for future employees. More importantly, by training your recruiters to develop better cultural competence, you can have more confidence in their ability to recruit candidates from diverse backgrounds without biases influencing their final decision.
3. Make sure your organisation is already welcoming to diverse backgrounds
Carry over that cultural competence to the rest of your team. Ensure existing team members and employees from diverse backgrounds are respected and feel a sense of belonging. While recruiters should be the first to get cultural competence training, the other members of your team should follow.
This practice is a vital requirement for international companies who aim to recruit candidates from different countries. If you want your organisation's teams to work well, you should ensure the work environment is conducive for all team members, regardless of their background. The best way to do this is by conducting intercultural sensitivity training programs or exposing your team to varied experiences.
4. Involve a diverse selection of recruiters
To promote diversity in recruitment, consider involving a cross-cultural team of recruiters from different cultural backgrounds or those with complementary skill sets to bring new perspectives to the hiring process. The fresh insights will help ensure a fair and inclusive recruitment process that avoids unconscious biases.
If bringing together a team of diverse recruiters is challenging, you can consider partnering with organisations that promote diversity and inclusion to help you identify potential candidates from underrepresented groups.
5. Make your team diversity known
If you already have a diverse team, ensuring this diversity is visible to potential applicants is very important. When people see others with similar backgrounds already represented and thriving in your company, they are more likely to feel welcome and encouraged to join your team.
This practice is beneficial when recruiting people from disadvantaged backgrounds and different countries, as it promotes a sense of familiarity and belonging.
6. Recognise diversity in all its forms
Recruiting people from different countries or cultural backgrounds is not the only way a team can be diverse. If your goal is diverse perspectives, recruiting people from different walks of life and with varied backgrounds is another way to achieve this.
Start thinking beyond culture! For example, generational diversity can be just as varied as cultural diversity. Differences in study backgrounds or industries can provide your team with valuable insights and perspectives you would not have access to otherwise. People with disabilities or neurodivergence also have a unique perspective which can be highly useful depending on your project.
7. Understand the culture of your target groups
To avoid misunderstandings and unfair treatment, you must first understand the cultural norms of the candidates you wish to recruit. This practice is especially relevant when recruiting remotely, with candidate pools never exposed to the recruiter's culture.
For example, western recruiters might expect candidates to be more confident and extroverted, while other cultures might value politeness and humbleness. This difference can result in a recruitment process stacked against a candidate's cultural background.
8. Make use of diverse networks of people
To build a diverse and inclusive workforce, you can also use the mixed networks of existing team members. Employees from cross-cultural backgrounds may have connections in different cultural, social, or professional networks. Through these networks, you can reach potential candidates from underrepresented communities and have a smoother recruitment process.
By encouraging employees to participate in diversity initiatives and employee resource groups, you can also foster a more inclusive workplace culture that values diversity and supports the development of multicultural networks. This approach can help attract and retain diverse talent.
9. Be mindful of the varying norms and languages of candidates in job listings
To attract global candidates, you should be cautious of cultural and language differences when writing job listings. Understanding cultural norms is essential in crafting a job listing that appeals to a wide range of candidates or targets specific cultures, particularly applicable to international recruitment.
Different cultures prioritise different aspects of work, such as work-life balance, job security, or company values. By taking the time to understand the culture of your prospective applicants, you can create a job listing that is both effective and respectful.
Language differences can also create barriers to effective communication between job seekers and employers. Using clear and concise language that avoids jargon and idiomatic expressions is crucial in making the job posting accessible to candidates from different regions, or those whose first language is not English.
Different countries may refer to the same concepts using other words or have alternate conventions for job listings. This contrast holds even for English, which may vary in structure, terminology, and phrasing across different countries.
10. Consider the different legal frameworks and conventions
When recruiting international candidates, it's essential to take into account their country's legal frameworks and conventions. Each country has its legal requirements for job listings, so you should research and understand these conditions to ensure job postings are compliant.
It's also important to consider the country's job market conventions. Countries may have different expectations for how job listings are formatted and presented. Even if these distinctions are not a part of the legal requirements, they can still impact the effectiveness of job postings and the perceptions of potential candidates.
11. Be transparent about your company's culture
When it comes to diverse recruiting, you should also be transparent about your company's culture. A good approach is to be clear about your expectations from candidates and what they can expect from your organisation, your team, and your team's social and work dynamics..
Be sure to outline your company culture in the job description or during the interview process so candidates can determine whether they would be a good fit for your organisation and vice versa. This sets clear expectations for both parties, leading to a more positive and efficient recruitment experience overall.
By being transparent about your company's culture, you can also attract candidates who share your organisation's values and are likely to thrive in your work environment. This practice can lead to a more engaged and productive workforce, benefiting the organisation and its employees.
12. Encourage applicants to ask questions about the company's culture and values
Encouraging applicants to ask questions about the company's culture during the application process through Q&A sessions or contact opportunities is another way to ensure that candidates fully understand your company's values, work environment, and social dynamics. This approach also ensures that candidates are infrormed specifically on issues that concern them personally.
Through this, you can help candidates make informed decisions by thoroughly assessing whether your company is a good fit for them. It also shows that the employer values transparency and is committed to creating a workplace where employees feel comfortable asking questions and raising concerns.
13. Understand the importance of “culture fit”, but don’t use it to exclude
Understanding the concept of "culture fit" is vital when building a diverse and inclusive workplace. Culture fit refers to the alignment between an employee's values, personality, and work style and the company's values, culture, and work environment. Culture fit significantly impacts team dynamics and overall job satisfaction for the employee and the employer.
However, do not use culture fit to exclude candidates from diverse backgrounds. Instead, focus on finding candidates with diverse perspectives and experiences who align with the company's values and culture in a broader sense. Be ready to broaden and re-interpret your company’s culture by finding your stripped-down, core values. By doing so, employers can create a more inclusive and innovative workplace and increase employee satisfaction.
14. Avoid algorithms and AI
To avoid discrimination and bias in recruiting, be aware of the potential dangers of using algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) in candidate selection. AI-based tools and algorithms could drive systemic inequalities and biases based on the data or models used to train them, leading to unfair and discriminatory hiring practices, even when unintentional.
Instead of relying solely on algorithms or AI, employers can incorporate human judgement and oversight in the recruitment process. As outlined earlier in this article, one such practice is using diverse recruiters. By taking a more thoughtful approach to recruitment, employers can ensure that their hiring processes are fair, inclusive, and supportive of diversity and equity.
15. Minimise unconscious bias
Minimise discriminatory practices and stereotyping to ensure a fair and inclusive recruitment process. Unconscious bias might play a role in discrimination. As a starting point, you could leverage tools that help reduce bias, such as removing photos and names from resumes or CVs, along with other methods outlined above.
16. Use a variety of methods that are appropriate for different groups
For a fair and inclusive recruitment process, you should recognise that typical recruitment techniques may not be appropriate for different groups of people.
For example, analytical thinking tests are more appropriate for western candidates; however, in certain cultures, like Japan, people thrive on holistic thinking. One example of such differences is the tendency to focus on contrasts rather than similarities when asked to categorise different items.
17. Ensure feedback is culturally sensitive
Lastly, after the application process is over, you should provide feedback in a culturally sensitive manner. Use culturally appropriate language in all candidate interactions - job listing, interview process and feedback delivery. While giving feedback, be aware of the diverse backgrounds of candidates and avoid assumptions or stereotypes. Sharing constructive feedback that is specific, relevant, and actionable can help candidates understand why they were or were not selected for the position and also provide valuable insights for their future career development.
In conclusion, creating a diverse and inclusive workplace requires a deliberate effort from employers and recruiters. Training recruiters in intercultural competence, involving a diverse selection of recruiters, and being mindful of cultural and language differences in job listings are a few ways to create a welcoming environment for diverse talent.
Diversity and inclusion are not buzzwords but essential aspects of a successful and thriving workplace. Employers prioritising diversity contribute to a fairer world while building a workforce with greater creativity, innovation, and problem-solving capabilities.
By adopting the practices outlined in this article, culturally sensitive recruiters could restructure their recruitment approach to include diverse perspectives from the start of the hiring process.
If you want a general overview of how to ensure a diverse and inclusive workspace after the recruitment process, our guide to inclusivity covers more topics.