British Heart Foundation | Major employer transforms recruitment practices to reduce bias in new ED&I push

Major employer transforms recruitment practices to reduce bias in new ED&I push

In a bid to foster a fair and inclusive work environment, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has announced significant changes to its recruitment procedures aimed at minimising unconscious bias.

The charity's initiative includes the introduction of an interactive interview builder tool and best practice guidance to help managers create structured interviews.

Maggie Morgan-Valentine, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at BHF, explained that the tool analyses job descriptions and person specifications to identify key characteristics required for a role, then suggests questions to objectively assess candidates based on these criteria.

“It will then suggest questions that will really help you to get to those objective measures around that particular role,” she said, in conversation with the Civil Society.

Additionally, starting from April, BHF will extend its paternity leave offer to 12 weeks of full pay, a move inspired by feedback from its staff network of parents and guardians.

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Morgan-Valentine emphasised the importance of reconsidering job descriptions to ensure they only ask for qualifications essential for the role.

She highlighted the risk of unconscious bias in recruitment decisions and stressed the need for structured interviews with robust evaluation criteria to mitigate bias and ensure a fair selection process.

“It’s really about trying to think about the right questions that you should be asking. Just generally in society, we might well tend to ask for more than we actually really need to do a particular job,” she noted.

The BHF's ED&I strategy, published in May 2022, laid the foundation for these changes.

Under Morgan-Valentine's leadership, the charity has increased its focus on ED&I initiatives, including using anonymous CVs during recruitment and expanding its employee networks to nine affinity groups, covering diverse communities such as Black colleagues, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people with disabilities.

She also emphasised the importance of addressing barriers to employment faced by marginalised groups.

“The [affinity groups] are a real opportunity to glean from the experience of our colleagues and make sure that what we’re intending in terms of our processes, is having the impact that we would want to have,” she said.

“If there’s a project that you’re implementing, but you’re unaware of the unintended impact it can have on certain communities, our groups are an amazing way of us being able to recognise unintended impact and do things differently.”

Reflecting on the broader impact of ED&I initiatives, Morgan-Valentine stressed that prioritising diversity and inclusion is not only a moral imperative but also essential for charities to effectively achieve their goals.

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