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6 Tips for More Accessible and Inclusive Hiring

Now is the time for accessible and inclusive hiring. Learn how to make your hiring process truly inclusive by crafting appealing job listings, structuring accessible applications, mitigating biases in screening, providing flexible interview options, and supporting diversity.

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While many companies emphasize the importance of workplace diversity, implementing inclusive practices in the hiring process remains a challenge. Continuous evaluation, feedback, and adaptation are essential for making progress toward building a diverse workplace.

This article will explore practical tips for making hiring practices more accessible and inclusive. Employers will learn how to craft inclusive job descriptions with broader appeal, structure application systems accessibility, mitigate unconscious biases in screening and interviews, and support diversity once making job offers. Let's explore some actionable ways to get started and build a more diverse workforce.

What is inclusive hiring?

Inclusive hiring refers to pre-hire testing and recruiting, interviewing, and onboarding candidates while being mindful of equity, diversity, and inclusion. It aims to reduce bias and barriers that traditionally underrepresented groups may face when seeking employment. 

Inclusive hiring practices aim to make opportunities accessible to all candidates regardless of their disability status, age, gender, race, ethnicity, or other elements of their background. These practices are about casting a wide net and evaluating candidates based on their abilities rather than letting unconscious bias and assumptions get in the way.

6 tips for an accessible and inclusive hiring process

Organizations with more equitable racial representation outperform less diverse competitors within the same industries. Companies can incorporate several best practices to ensure their hiring practices are accessible, equitable, and inclusive.

1. Write detailed job descriptions

Many professionals view inclusive hiring practices and diverse workplace cultures as priorities when weighing new positions and job opportunities. Yet, many companies unintentionally use exclusionary language when writing job descriptions. Failing to communicate when remote work or flexible scheduling may be possible is one example. This can deter some candidates from applying and lead to a lack of diversity in the applicant pool.  

  • Get specific about required skills and responsibilities to attract diverse candidates with relevant abilities rather than those who interview well.
  • Indicate when some aspects of the role are negotiable or flexible when applicable. 

2. Incorporate people with disabilities into the hiring process

About 61 million adults in the United States live with a disability. Yet, unemployment for people with disabilities is more than twice as high for those without them. HR professionals and hiring managers may make false assumptions about what candidates with disabilities can or cannot do. 

The best way to prevent this is by including people with disabilities in the hiring process, like members of your relevant Employee Resource Groups. (And if you don't already have ERGs in place, now is a great time to start!) They can point out things like accessibility barriers in interviews that employers may not have considered or word job listings in ways that don't deter candidates from applying. Having their input leads to a better applicant experience. In addition, they can evaluate candidates through the lens of true inclusion rather than through biases.

3. Design the application process with accessibility in mind

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires equal recruiting opportunities, starting with access to the application process. Standards like Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provide frameworks for accessibility. Hence, ensuring the job application process is accessible to candidates with disabilities is a critical component of inclusive hiring. There are several important guidelines to keep in mind:

Offer applications in multiple formats 📑

Applications in PDF format often lack proper structural tags to be readable by screen readers, which can be fixed through document remediation. PDFs can be remediated with Adobe Acrobat Pro, CommonLook PDF, or axesPDF; this involves adding tags, descriptive headings, alt text, color contrast adjustments, and other elements, allowing the content to be interpreted correctly by assistive technologies like screen readers.

In addition, consider offering applications in large print, braille, and audio formats to accommodate different needs.

Confirm all site functions work with a keyboard alone ⌨️

Ensure every feature and field on application pages is fully navigable and usable with only a keyboard. People with dexterity issues cannot rely on using a mouse. Appropriate keyboard tab order, alt text, ARIA landmarks, and heading tags provide this accessibility.

Allow text resizing up to 400% at least 🔍

Web applications should allow text to be resized substantially without losing content or functionality. If they can adjust the text to a readable size, many people with mild vision issues can participate. Use relative units like EM or percentages rather than hard-coded pixels.

Check color contrast ratios 🎨

WCAG color contrast ratio standards state that accessibility requires at least 4.5:1 for standard text and 3:1 for larger text. Failing to meet this can render content impossible for those with vision impairments. Automated tools can identify areas falling short.

4. Prepare and host inclusive interviews

Once you've received applications, it's time to start interviews. This stage also holds the opportunity for exclusion if not handled carefully. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Assemble diverse interview panels 👥

Assemble diverse hiring teams representing different races, genders, ages, and abilities rather than permitting individual hiring managers to conduct solo interviews; this mitigates individual biases, promoting more equitable hiring practices.

Develop standardized interview questions 📝

Develop a set of standardized, job-related questions to ensure consistency and fairness; this will help evaluate candidates based on their experiences rather than personal biases.

Offer flexible interview formats 💻

Offer virtual meetings for early-stage interviews and in-person meetings later in the funnel only if the role requires it so mobility restrictions do not rule candidates out.

Hold interviews in accessible spaces 🤝

For in-person interviews, ensure the space is physically accessible to those with disabilities. Things like having a ramp instead of steps, wide hallways, desks at varying heights, and extra room to maneuver wheelchairs contribute to an inclusive atmosphere.  

Collect feedback consistently 💬

Gather feedback about the interview process from internal panel participants and external candidates regarding areas that work well or need fine-tuning.

5. Offer remote work 

On top of physical and technological accessibility, offering work models like remote or hybrid work and flexible scheduling removes barriers for candidates. These options allow people limited by mobility restrictions, caregiving responsibilities, chronic illnesses, or disabilities to excel at roles they otherwise may have lost out on. Opening up policies makes for a more equitable hiring process.

6. Have protocols in place for accommodations  

Be transparent about accommodations during the hiring process and once making an offer. Develop protocols for making accommodations for those who need them, whether with disabilities gained at birth, through illness, or injury. Some examples include providing screen readers for blind candidates to review contracts before signing, allowing service animals in office spaces, or adding captions to training videos.

Knowing readily available accommodations encourages the best candidates to apply rather than self-select due to worries over logistics and support.

Long story short 🎉

While inclusive hiring may require rethinking some standard practices, the payoff is immense. Creating equitable systems leads to the company attracting brighter, more diverse talent. The outcome? Thanks to your diverse team, your products and services better meet the needs of more customers in an increasingly diverse world.

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