Article · 6 minute read

Inclusive Assessment & Selection: Key Considerations from ISE EDI Conference 2023

By Amber Williams – 13th December 2023

With it being just over a month since ISE’s 2023 Equality Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Conference, it is important to keep the conversation going and revisit the rich insights that were discussed during the day, reflect on the amazing initiatives organizations have in place and understand where there is more work to be done.

This article summarizes key insights and recommendations shared throughout the day, including presentations and discussions from Lisa Marris, Head of Research at Cibyl, Ellie Long and neurodiverse graduates at Rolls Royce, Stafford Long & Partners and Word on the Curb, KPMG and MyPlus, as well as Direct Line Group.

From an early-careers selection and assessment perspective, it is paramount to understand the experience of students, graduates, and recent joiners as this provides valuable teachings around how they may experience recruitment processes, and what can be done to create a positive inclusive candidate journey. We have summarized these for reflection and action below.  

1. Transparent and consistent communication is key

It was evident throughout the talks of the day that candidates appreciate a stream of clear and open communication, with as much information as possible, detailing what to expect from the recruitment and onboarding process, as well as the role and organization being applied for. One graduate shared that they were encouraged to complete their application following a phone call from the early-careers team at Rolls Royce and that, without this, they may not have seen it through. This was echoed in the talk with KPMG and My Plus where they shared that every candidate receives a call from the recruitment team to talk through what to expect, and to transparently explain the process.

The graduate panel agreed that different forms of communication are also essential. For example, email communication can be easier to overlook and the opportunity to meet virtually with individuals from the business ahead of assessments is particularly beneficial.

It was also acknowledged that demystifying the application process and reducing ambiguity through clear communication can mitigate feelings of anxiety that can come with applying for and starting a new role.

Mental health figures from Cibyl’s research shows that 2 in 3 (64%) graduates report experiencing depression and anxiety. Moreover, there are individual characteristics which can exacerbate anxiety caused by uncertainties, negatively impacting on someone’s ability to showcase their true potential during assessment and selection.

For example, differences in interpreting and processing information, limited access to a support network that can offer advice and intel about the process, or anxieties often caused by stigma prevent candidates from asking questions or reaching out for accommodations and support. Managing this at each stage through clear comms can support candidates in effectively applying themselves. This will also set the tone for the level of support and communication they can expect within an organization, which is an important factor in offer acceptance for Gen Z graduates. 

That’s why, at Saville Assessment, we continuously review and update our communications to ensure that they are accessible, inclusive and prepare candidates with what to expect at each stage of the assessment process. Our Support Team and Duty Consultants are always on hand to answer questions and provide further information throughout, for both candidates and clients.

2. Accommodations and inclusive design

As we know, equality does not mean equity. People may be presented with the same career opportunities and fair recruitment processes but, due to individual experience, be presented with barriers and blockers in accessing these, making it harder for them to perform their best during the selection process. In addition, the commercial benefits of having a diverse workforce is widely documented, so it is crucial to ensure such talent is not unintentionally screened out.

The talk from MyPlus and KPMG revealed that 76% of disabled people (including neurodiverse) do not disclose their disability to their employer through fear that it will be seen as a weakness. Moreover, Stafford Long & Partners and Word on the Curb found that 73% of young people feel as though ‘who they are’ is a barrier for job opportunities and/or progression.

This is why it is essential to build inclusive assessment and selection processes that reduce bias whilst capturing the skills needed for the future. This can be achieved by introducing fair and robust psychometric assessments that assess for future potential, and by abandoning traditional recruitment methods such as CVs (more on this can be read here).

When it comes to accommodations, offer more than 25% extra time for individuals who have requested support and review each request case by case: not one size fits all. As stated, candidates may feel uncomfortable informing employers of a disability or neurodivergence and therefore may not ask for accommodations outside of what has been offered during the process, or may not ask for support at all. 

It is recommended that organizations and assessment providers outline the types of accommodations that can be offered, invite candidates to share anything they feel could also be considered and make the process for requesting support as easy as possible. In addition, it can be beneficial to create representation by sharing experiences of those who have been through the process and how employees are supported during onboarding and employment.

Invite an open and safe upfront conversation to reduce barriers, create psychological safety, and put forward company values; enable diverse candidates to feel empowered during the process. 

As we know, equality does not mean equity. People may be presented with the same career opportunities and fair recruitment processes but, due to individual experience, be presented with barriers and blockers in accessing these, making it difficult for them to perform their best during the selection process.

3. Creating a sense of belonging

Belonging is the feeling of security and support when there is a sense of acceptance, inclusion and identity for a member of a certain group or place. Research conducted by Culture Amp and Paradigm informs that a sense of belonging is consistently tied to a person’s workplace commitment, motivation, pride and recommendation across employee demographics (age, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation). Cibyl’s report states, “In a job market where strong candidates are highly sought after, graduates can afford to be choosy about their future employer.”

“Recruiters are acknowledging there’s a ‘What do graduates look for in employers?’ question besides the usual tick-list of qualifications, attributes and skills that employers want from graduates”. The report also highlights that 4 in 5 (79%) graduate respondents say robust mental health provision is an important or very important factor in choosing an employer. Candidates want to understand if where they work is safe, champions EDI and looks after mental health.

Attract and engage future talent by putting forward organizational culture and values, and demonstrate a workplace where candidates are inspired to be their true self.

The recruitment process is a prime opportunity to introduce company values and goals, and the candidate journey allows candidates to learn about you. Customizable early-careers talent solutions provide an essential platform for detailing information for candidates to ascertain what it is like to work for the company and what the role could entail. An immersive assessment experience that utilizes storytelling can portray long-term company objectives as well as representation within the company. Direct Line Group shared that immersive experiences help build “a deeper understanding of careers and skills”.

Find Out More

To find out how our solutions can help you build a truly inclusive selection process, get in touch today.

About the Author
Amber Williams

Amber is a Managing Consultant at Saville Assessment. She is a Neurodiversity at Work Expert and has a passion for creating inclusive assessments.

You can connect with Amber on LinkedIn here

Amber Williams - Saville Assessment