Pride rainbows – powerful solidarity or shameless marketing?

by in Uncategorized

As 1st June hits each year, the internet transforms into rainbow hues as brands race to display their inclusive credentials for the duration of Pride month. But what does that really mean if there is not substance behind it? What does it mean if for the other 11 months of the year if diversity and inclusion is not wholly engrained into your company? What does it mean if your recruitment process is not inclusive or if the organisations you partner with and recruit for are not inclusive?

We’re certainly not bashing rainbow branding for Pride. The Wave logo itself has undergone a multi-hued transformation. There’s power in organisations big and small participating in and supporting Pride month. It’s highly symbolic for both employees and – for recruitment agencies – for candidates and clients. It can go a long way toward helping to make LGBTQ+ individuals feel supported, safe and seen at work and during the recruitment process. However, it must be more than just symbolic, it must represent and be backed by genuine inclusivity for the LGBTQ+ community. It’s where recruitment businesses can have huge power and influence.

As a recruitment partner, you are well placed to help ensure that the recruitment process in fully inclusive and unbiased and that the organisations you partner with are committed to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. A recent CIPD research report found that LGBTQ+ employees are more likely to experience workplace conflict and harassment than their heterosexual, cisgender colleagues – 40% of LGBQ and 55% of trans employees reported experiencing such conflict as opposed to just 29% of heterosexual and cisgender workers. In 2022 it is shameful that this is still happening and helping to eradicate this inequality is what those rainbow hued logos should represent. Real change. Real action.

It’s also business critical. Over the past 2 years we’ve gone from job insecurity and redundancies thanks to lockdowns, to a lack of available candidates, to rising costs in almost every area. Never has it been more vital to recruit a range of diverse talents – it really is key to driving innovation and business success.

We’ve outlined some of the steps you can take to ensure you give genuine support to the LGBTQ+ community and help to enact meaningful change – not just during Pride month, but all year round.

Publish your D&I policy on your recruitment website

Whether you include a simple statement on your homepage or dedicate an entire page to D&I, your D&I policy should be made clear on your recruitment website. This publicises your commitment to D&I to every visitor to your website, whether client or candidate. Making it clear that choosing your company means a more inclusive recruitment process will appeal to all involved and is a great indicator of your values. This is something Wave client Ashby Jenkins felt very strongly about. They placed their diversity pledge on their website and heavily marketed their commitment to diversity so that there could be no question about the importance of it to their recruitment strategy and their ethos as a company. Another Wave client, NP Group, has a whole page dedicated to their D&I policy, focusing on both their commitment to diversity and inclusion within their own teams and across the recruitment process.

Include your clients’ D&I policies on your job ads

A D&I statement should be included on every job advert but be aware that candidates will look for a sense of empathy in it to gauge sincerity. LinkedIn surveyed a diverse population of 764 members, showing them a generic D&I statement and one which felt more personal and empathetic. 71% said that the empathetic tone cast the employer in a better light, with one participant noting, “the first [statement] felt obligatory, the second felt human.” And that is the crux – we may all be different but we are are all human and that’s what candidates want to get a sense of in a job ad. True D&I is more than a stock job ad statement so ensure that your clients’ policies are backed by substance. 

Use gender neutral language in your job ad copy

The importance of gender-neutral wording in job ads cannot be overstated – an Appcast report found that the cost per application for gender-neutral job ads is 41% lower than those with coded words. Gender-neutral job ads receive more applications from both men and women, of all orientations.  

Ask candidates and employees for honest feedback

Not sure how inclusive your recruitment process is? Ask candidates and any LGBTQ+ employees for their feedback on it. There is nothing more valuable than direct experience and if you are not part of the community, you may be missing things that may be glaring to diverse candidates and colleagues. If you want to embed diversity and inclusion into your recruitment strategy, asking those to who it primarily pertains is incredibly worthwhile.

Challenge clients where necessary

Don’t be afraid to challenge your clients if their policies/workplace culture/requirements on job descriptions do not align with your D&I policies. Not only is it the right thing to do, anything that could exclude whole demographics from applying for a job is not a smart business move. Areas such as requirements on job descriptions can be discussed if you don’t think they will reach a diverse pool of candidates.

Look inwards

Ensuring your recruitment process is unbiased and inclusive is important but means nothing if your own agency isn’t reflective of your policies, statements and processes for clients. How diverse is your team? How do you ensure that your own recruitment processes are inclusive? What could you do better? Again, this is where feedback can be incredibly helpful.

Start small

Sometimes the little things can be huge. Asking candidates, employees and clients the correct pronouns to address them by, installing all-gender toilets in the office, simply listening to a person’s lived experiences, being there for them and ensuring they have the support they need – all can make a huge impact on day-to-day workplace and recruitment experiences.

Changing your logo to rainbow brights and adding a rainbow background to your LinkedIn profile can only be considered shameless marketing if your actions, your policies, your values, your workplace culture (and that of your clients), isn’t inclusive and supportive of the LGBTQ+ community. Backed by meaningful action, those rainbows are a powerful message of support and solidarity.