Antiracism, Celebrating Small Steps in HE, Discrimination, Good practices, HigherEd, Inclusivity, Recruitment

A positive step towards reducing discrimination in recruitment – ft. Matt Lingard

Are you an active antiracist looking to make a difference in the recruitment process in your team and department? This blog features:

  • An interview with Matt Lingard, highlighting the small steps he undertook to positively tackle racism in the recruitment process
  • Considerations if you wish to implement such an approach
  • How to further effectively eliminate discrimination in the recruitment process
  • What you can do if you are not a line manager

@Tee_Nadan interviews @mattlingard on the small steps he undertook to tackle #discrimination in the #recruitment process at @UAL @LCCLondon #higherEd Read this blog for tips to consider if you wish to implement a similar approach in your institution

In the video below, Matt Lingard, Digital Learning Director at the London College of Communication, University of the Arts, London, spotlights changes to the recruitment process that he started to implement in 2021, which involves changes to a role he was hiring for, aiming to increase the number of applicants, and also to attract more POC to apply and potentially successfully join the team. Three main changes were implemented:

  1. A video advert to supplement the conventional textual job advert, featuring two other staff members, based on their expertise on the particular role, and also on ethnicity.
  2. The opportunity to talk to the direct line manager, a 15 mins chat to find out more about the role.
  3. A positive action approach, application consultation, only offered to ethnic minority candidates.

Matt also talks about the observations and impact following the adoption of these changes. Read to the end of this post for considerations and tips if you wish to implement the approach taken by Matt in your institution.

Video

Video “Celebrating small steps in HE” – Reducing discrimination in recruitment ft. Matt Lingard

Considerations

Buy in from HR and your line manager. Given the amount of time needed to execute such a practice, it is important to gain the support of your line manager, departmental head, HR and even senior management. Sadly, you may find that such an approach towards anti-discriminatory is very much top driven, and may have challenges should it be bottom-driven and may be harder to implement if you are the first person taking the initiative in your institution.

A sound understanding of the whole team/department as to why these processes were put in place. It is important that all team members understand why there are being changes in the recruitment process, not only to eliminate discrimination in the recruitment process, but also to have diversity within the team. The WHY of diversity needs to be explicitly discussed in team meetings and input and feedback incorporated in the process. This will avoid two major issues: (1) negative criticism on the amount of time being put in the recruitment process and (2) any aversion against the newly recruited staff, should it be a POC who successfully gets hired.

The art of workload management and making time. Explaining to your team why this approach is being implemented will work in your favour when redistributing work to make time to incorporate meetings with potential candidates. On average, a vacancy will interest around 250 potential candidates, although not all may apply. Making time for even one-tenth of that, would still require roughly 1 day of work, excluding email exchanges, calendar invites and other administrative tasks. In a large department, where there are ongoing vacancies every month, this would translate to a large amount of time that the line manager will need to have at hand.

How to further effectively eliminate discrimination?

Get several POC involved in the recruitment process. If you are advertising for several roles, which seems to be the trend at the moment with learning technologists, do consider having a pool of POC staff who could join on the panel, rather than asking the same person every time to do so. This will:

  • prevent overworking the same POC with all the shortlisting and interview tasks. Check our this post Modern slavery in UK HEIs (https://tinyurl.com/23tp58wv) highlighting the over-exploitation of POC staff within UK Higher Education in order to meet institutional antiracism agenda.
  • ensure a more effective non-discriminatory approach. Do remember that everyone has unconscious biases, and even POCs have biases, for example, biases towards someone of the same region they are from, same country, same religion, and so on.

Aim to start with a big department that has a large disparity in ethnicity number. Do not be scared to start big. You may think that it is easier to start from a small team/department, but this will not be as effective.

The fact that you have a large department with a large disparity in staff numbers, highlights an organisational issue, a wider issue to do with your organisational policies, processes and priorities. Implementing change in a small department will not show significant change and will not highlight the wider problem in depth. You will only come out of the process re-affirming what you already know. Take the upper hand and implement change in the large department, there will be a louder voice with many unhappy faces and grudges. This will allow you to garner the momentum to implement the much-required changes to your organisational policies, processes and priorities.

Consider discrimination in its entirely, do not leave any of the protected categories from the equation.

When changing policies and processes, it is easier to be informed of most issues beforehand. Anyone who has been involved in institutional policy changes would know that the whole process is time-consuming and can extend for a long period of time. It is therefore imperative to approach such changes from intersectional lenses. While this post is not about organisational change strategies, should you wish to implement such a wider institutional change, I will be happy to direct you to some useful materials.

What if you are not a line manager, what can you do?

We often think that only line managers and HR can influence the recruitment process, everyone can make a difference.

  • Have a conversation with your team
  • Challenge the status quo in your department
  • Get the Equality & Diversity officer/team on board
  • Get the Staff Networks on board e.g. BAME Staff Network
  • Highlight successful examples of implementation e.g. this post

Where can you find out more?

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