Five steps towards a more diverse recruitment strategy

Diversity is rightfully treated as a priority nowadays because for a long time sadly our creative industry was neither diverse nor inclusive. In fact, there is a history of racism, sexism, and exclusivity which we are still working to rectify today.

We should take positive action to promote diversity, not by favouring characteristics, but by removing barriers or hurdles that individuals face, so our companies are accessible to potential employees from all backgrounds.

As a recruitment agency for the creative industry, we would like to offer our support here by sharing some steps on how you can improve your hiring strategy.

  1. Create a Job Spec to Attract A More Diverse Range of Applications
  • Create a company profile to showcase your company values, ethos, and acknowledge your commitment to diversity. It seems fairly simple, but just acknowledging that you pride yourselves on your company culture, your understanding of the work-life balance, and what benefits you offer your employees can really make a difference when a candidate is considering applying.
  • Advise recruitment companies of your ambition. If you work with a recruiter, make them aware of your ambition to create a diverse workplace. Educate them on your company’s current demographic so they understand and can actively work to attract people with a more diverse range of experiences. A recruitment company will always send you their best candidates no matter what, but by including them in your goal they will work to make sure they are representing a diverse range of talent.
  • Be clear on why a qualification or piece of knowledge is being sought. Rather than saying ‘a degree in media production is essential’ could you instead specify that you need someone with the ability to operate a camera, and knowledge of sound and lighting. The latter can be gained regardless of a degree and will make your spec more inclusive.
  • Relate the spec to essential not desirable requirements – desirable requirements exclude candidates who do not meet your view of the “ideal candidate”
  • Distinguish between skill (proven ability), and ability (capacity to do something) to include people with less formal work experience.
  • Do not ask for number of years work experience, understand that experience can be gained outside of work. Years do not always reflect ability.
  • Do not use criteria on a job spec that cannot be measured, for example personality traits e.g. bubbly personality
  • Ideally be transparent in advertising salary levels for roles so that candidates who apply are aware of what to expect.
  1. Widen Your network
  • Ensure you take the time to raise awareness of your job opportunity with a diverse network by sharing the job with organisations and groups in your industry which promote diversity in different sectors. For example, groups that champion female creatives, networks which centre people of colour, and organisations that support creatives with disabilities.
  • Advertise the role on job boards, do not just rely on own existing network. Generally, our network comprises people who are like ourselves demographically. We tend to know people who have come from similar places, education backgrounds, who are similar ages, who have similar values, skills, and experience as us. If you are mainly relying on referrals from your current employees or posting on your team’s personal Linked In profiles that you are hiring, you are not going to attract a diverse group of candidates. Posting on jobs boards, particularly ones used by a wide range of the population will help you reach a more representative range of people.
  • Look at what you can do to support change at a grass roots level in the industry you recruit for and for the recruitment industry as a whole; how can we reach wider audiences at an earlier stage? Options include working with schools, universities, and creating paid internships, offering learning programmes and partnering with diversity charities.
  1. Reduce your unconscious bias

One of the biggest challenges to diversity hiring is unconscious bias – the prejudice that affects our decision making without us realising even when we are trying to not let it. Here are two tactics which aim to reduce our bias:

  • Anonymous CVs – help you make decisions free from unconscious biases of the candidate’s race and gender by removing their name. Other identifying personal information that could being removed from CV is graduation year, university names, and even addresses. This helps you identify high quality candidates because it enables you to more objectively evaluate a candidate’s skills, knowledge, and potential to succeed.
  • Anonymous Interviews are an extension of the above. You can give your recruiter a set of questions which you would normally ask in an interview setting, and they can ask their candidates for written responses. As a hiring manage you can then read their response without knowing their personal details and make a judgement based on their answers rather than their personal qualities.
  1. Challenge your view of an ‘ideal candidate’
  • Place emphasis on transferable skills within person specifications and consider non-degree holders. If you overprescribe the qualifications and level of experience required you may exclude potential talent.
  • Bring your team into the decision-making process. Getting the whole team to meet candidates and make group decisions on their cultural fit will help promote your diversity and inclusion initiative, as you are bringing together a whole range of cultural views.

People can be drawn to hire others that are like themselves, so by having a diverse interview panel this hugely dilutes this issue.

  • Be clear what you mean by “team fit”. It is an often-used phrase and unless you are clear what you are looking for in terms of behaviours and approach, it can lead to simply recruiting in the same mould, time and again.
  • Help your team to understand more about unconscious bias and how it may be affecting your hiring processes. Having awareness can help us to make changes that open our candidate pool, rather than close it down – and ensure we tap into all the talent that is out there.
  1. Nurture your talent in the workplace

As well as working to ensure you are attracting diverse candidates to your company, it is even more important that you offer a safe inclusive place for people to work, and that you uphold an excellent culture that promotes progression and success for employees.

  • Educate your employees on racism, sexism, and ableism through talks, workshops, and training days. Teach employees to be aware of the micro-aggressions within racism that often go unchecked. Ensure people feel confident to speak up against discrimination, by having a clear, easy, and confidential process which makes the person reporting the instance feel comfortable. Most importantly, make sure that when people speak up, your company responds with real action.
  • Provide fair pay and renumeration this one goes without saying, but it is so important to ensure employees are paid fairly. This is especially important for entry level roles and internships. Often pay is the deciding factor in whether someone can afford to work within the creative industry and so offering low pay for entry roles can discriminate against those who do not have another source of income or financial support.
  • Offer flexibility. Offering people time and space for daily prayer, offering flexible time off for different religious holidays (not just the Christian UK holidays), adopting flexible hours which can help with childcare, and offering ability to work from home so people who are not local to your office area have greater convenience are all ways you can support your diverse team.
  • Having a diverse range of people within senior management is key to giving people from different backgrounds a voice that is heard. Ensuring staff have equal opportunities to grow their skillset and salary is important and can be encouraged by ensuring everyone has access to equal support and training. Take the time to understand your employee’s goals and then work to help them achieve these. Promoting leadership should be based on merit and skill rather than length of service.
  • Assigning mentors can offer an additional level of support which can help development and progression at work. Mentors can also coach and give advice, meaning the people in your team are better equipped to progress and offer more to the business.

There are so many ways to promote diversity, but it fundamentally it comes down to a shift in the mind-set of yourself and your company and a commitment to create a more inclusive industry.

Here are a few organisations that operate within the creative industry who are doing fantastic work to inspire change:

  • We Are POCC – A members collective and community of creative, like-minded people working in advertising, media, fashion, arts, film and photography, with a mission to accelerate equality and positively change the experiences of people of colour within these industries, both today and for future generations.
  • Access VFX – A global, industry-led, non-profit comprised of 40 leading companies, industry bodies and educational establishments in the VFX, animation and games industries. It focuses on actively pursuing and encouraging inclusion, diversity, awareness and opportunity under its four pillars of Inspiration, Education, Mentoring and Recruitment.
  • MAMA Youth Project – Dedicated to changing the lives of young people by providing relevant industry training and opening doors to the TV & Film industry.
  • CREATE Arts Charity – The UK’s leading charity empowering lives through the creative arts.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this topic and are also keen to grow the list of organisations listed above. If you know another organisation you would like to be added to this resource, please do get in touch with us.

Tripod Brixton,
Lambeth Town Hall,
1 Brixton Hill, London,

Hours: Monday to Friday, 8am – 7pm
Phone: 020 7580 7333