September 24, 2021 Whitney van Schyndel

5 Practical Tips to Set Up Your Company’s Inclusive Youth Recruitment Strategy

Co-authored by: VSO, Randstad, and Palladium

The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE) firmly believes that inclusive youth recruitment is imperative to advancing equal economic opportunities for diverse youth groups. Employing young people from varied backgrounds, such as from different gender, racial, socio-economic, religious, or ability groups, ensures that all youth – especially those from marginalized communities – have a fair chance to participate and contribute to the workforce.

Diversity can also be a huge asset to your company’s performance. Attracting young employees with distinct expertise, personality traits, and learning styles enriches a workplace with wide-ranging perspectives. A multitude of experiences and opinions fosters more creativity and usually results in higher performance and more profitable outcomes for your company. Inclusive recruitment strategies create a solution where everyone benefits for youth communities and businesses; they not only make for more economically empowered youth but also more prosperous businesses.

In this article, we will explain what we mean exactly by inclusive youth recruitment and then move on to 5 practical tips for implementation.

What is inclusive youth recruitment?

Inclusive youth recruitment is making the recruitment and selection processes accessible to all groups. The main goal for recruiting and selecting inclusively is to increase the diversity within the company. There are several benefits[1] to diversity. A McKinsey report (2018) analyzed the economic results of European companies and highlighted that more diversity fosters more results. These results can be reflected in non-European countries as well. Profit and assets ratio (11,4 % vs 10,3%), operating results, Earnings Before Interest and Taxes (or EBIT) (11,1 % vs 5,8%). Implementing equality, diversity, and inclusion values in the company’s culture not only has a budgetary impact on the business but is also a strategic choice to attract and retain talent as it is demonstrated in the latest Randstad Talent Trend Research (2021): equality, diversity and inclusion is one of the ten most important trends related to talent management.

For CFYE, inclusive youth recruitment means that young people (amongst whom marginalized groups, such as females or people with disabilities) get the same opportunities. We see this as a key part of our overarching youth engagement strategy.

Below, the Fund will share tips and learnings that our consortium partners, VSO, Randstad, and Palladium, have gathered while recruiting inclusively for the past nine years. All learnings are tailored to focus on youth specifically. Therefore, they can be seen as a mere five practical tips to help you set up an inclusive youth recruitment strategy. Finally, bear in mind that it is important that everyone in the organisation is engaged, from youth employees up to and including higher management.

1. Be on the same page when it comes to inclusion

Establish with each other what inclusion really means for your company. This can be done through group sessions with a diverse group of youth employees, e.g., females, people with a disability, or with different religions. The session should be led by a trained facilitator, preferably also an employee from the targeted group or a colleague from your HR department. The following questions should be raised in the session(s); Does everyone understand inclusion? Is inclusion important for everyone? Are you truly open to (work with) diverse people? What are your personal conscious and unconscious biases? Then it is necessary to establish what the joint biases are and how those can be avoided. This will assure to open any blockages on the pathway to inclusion.

2. Check the diversity within your company

Take a look at your company. Does your company have a diverse group of youth employees? You can have a lot of youth employees working for you, but that doesn’t mean that you are inclusive of and for all youth. Youth is not a homogenous group, and there are a lot of diversities to discover. Think of gender, socio-economic background, disability, religion, level of education, or care duties: if you have a diverse group of youth employees, well done! If you don’t have your desired level of inclusion and diversity yet, define who or which groups of youth might be missing. There are different ways to measure levels of diversity and inclusion. In our experience, a questionnaire[2] is a good tool to use.

3. Get to know your target group

If you don’t know anything about your target group, the youth, you cannot reach them. Therefore, dive into the diverse youth world(s). What barriers do youth experience while applying for a job or during the selection procedure? Where and how do they apply to jobs? The best way to find the answer to the questions and get the information is to ask the youth themselves.

To reach as diverse a group as possible, contact youth community centers or local NGOs. They can give contextual input on gender or how to reach people with disabilities. Keep networking to build up partnerships with relevant youth groups. From our experience, youth open more to their peers, so ideally, the interviews would be done by youth employees within your company to get to know your target group. Try to be strategic about partnering up: it is easier to create an immediate trust for people with the same (or similar) background(s).

You can use the information from the interviews to adapt your recruitment strategy into one that is truly inclusive to all youth.

4. Share your inclusion message

If you want a diverse group of youth to apply, you have to show that you are inclusive. This starts in the way you communicate and goes all the way through to the selection interviews for any particular role.  You can think about measures like intentionally messaging or posting about inclusion on a website, your social media channels, or prints such as posters or flyers. You can also use more inclusive language in the vacancy description by finding alternatives to words with subtle biases (e.g., “dynamic,” “3 years of experience”) to appeal to potential candidates of different backgrounds. Moreover, in the selection interview stage, you could explain your company’s view on inclusion, explain the steps you’ve implemented so far, and/or let a role model join.  Based on our experience, it is beneficial to let role models, for example, a young employee who is also a mother or an employee with a disability, participate during the recruitment and selection procedures. Please make sure to include them in the decision-making process as well.

5. Define your next steps

These are just the first steps to transforming your recruitment strategy into an inclusive one. The next steps are looking at your recruitment, marketing, and selection procedures. How can you reach the most marginalized youth and/or females? How do you reach youth that cannot apply online? How do you select candidates based solely on the core requirements of the job? How do you make sure your interviews are inclusive? Steps might range from contributing to transport costs for the interview, posting job ads on traditional job boards, diversifying your interview panel, adjusting the hiring processes for disabled candidates, or training the interviewees on conscious and unconscious biases.

Youth engagement is integrated at the core of the CFYE. The CFYE Youth Advisory Team is looking forward to working together with all the implementing partners in empowering and engaging youth. We have produced an Inclusive Youth Recruitment Plan to support our implementing partners to meet and develop their ambitions in relation to an inclusive youth recruitment and selection process.

[1] McKinsey, May 2019, Diversity wins: How inclusion matters