Reflections on the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities Report
Blogs 2nd December 2020 4 minutes read
Is your organisation really committed to becoming more inclusive? How can you go beyond developing an inclusive recruitment process and actually become an inclusive workspace? Kai Adams, managing partner at Green Park, shares some advice.
Creating an inclusive recruitment process is a laudable aim in and of itself. One we should aim to deliver every time. But an inclusive recruitment process isn’t a shortcut to being authentically, lastingly inclusive. It isn’t a fig leaf to hide behind or a silver bullet to shoot. A process doesn’t solve a problem, though properly conducted it could facilitate a solution. A process should be the instrument, not the end game.
Inclusion – an inclusive culture – takes hard work. Ongoing work. Ongoing listening and ongoing learning. It’s not box ticking. It’s not decoration. You can’t just outsource it to someone else.
Being inclusive is an active decision. A way of being. It’s a congruence between words and actions, a closing of the gap between what you say and what you actually do. It’s shuffling up to allow space for others, sharing your place, sharing your power. It’s bringing other voices into the discussion. It’s about actively listening to opinions and experiences other than your own. About being open – genuinely open – to changing your mind. Recognising you might need to do things differently. Being challenged. Getting uncomfortable.
You can’t just want the process. You have to want the result.
Don’t get me wrong. I applaud anyone who wants to create a recruitment process that is transparent, equitable, and inclusive. I celebrate anyone who believes in the benefits of a more diverse team. The process is critical.
But it must be underpinned by one crucial ingredient: intentionality – the fact of being deliberate and purposeful.
Process is important. Rigour is important. Consistency is important. The truth is, though, that even with all of this, I’ve seen too many “inclusive” processes be anything but.
As those processes progressed, so the language changed, the hesitation crept in, the decisions narrowed. What started as an invitation to everyone arrived at a shortlist identifying people as “left-field” or “interesting as a wildcard”, and ended with explicit concerns about things like “scale”, “gravitas”, “networks” and, most deadly of all, “fit”.
The process, on the surface, looked right. So how come things didn’t change?
Because there wasn’t real commitment. Real intent.
The real, deep thinking didn’t happen up front. The right words got said but the actions didn’t support them. The right actions were put in place but the decisions subverted them. Not enough time was taken to consider and assimilate what those thoughts, words, actions and decisions to be more inclusive really meant.
Too much thought went into the idea – the beautiful, abstract concept – that “we, the organisation” need to be different. That someone else – someone diverse – would make that happen.
Not enough time was taken to think about how “we, the individual” need to be different. That the change has to start – deliberately, purposefully – with each of us.
Here are some thoughts on what those changes could be:
If you are looking for recruitment support and would like to become a more inclusive organisation, you can get in touch directly with Green Park.
This article was published by ACEVO on the 30th of November.