Inclusive recruitment – look around your organisation…

…do you see people of different colour, culture, appearance, family status and socio-economic background, asks Enoch Adeyemi?  

The CIPD in Scotland invited the founder of Black Professionals Scotland, and a speaker at the 2023 CIPD Scotland Annual Conference, to talk about a programme that helps organisations in Scotland to attract and recruit more diverse talent.

The success rates of disadvantaged and minority groups in the recruitment process is often undermined by unconscious bias, flawed advertising and unnecessary stipulations in job advertisements. While many organisations say they want to address equality, diversity and inclusion, their narrow approach to recruitment means that they’ll never get off the starting blocks.

I’ve heard some excuses in my time:

“We only recruit from three universities in Scotland as they are the best and our CEO went to one of them.

“We want people who can fit into the culture right away.”

“We post our jobs on our website so if people really want to work for us, they should come find us. That’s not asking too much is it?”

“We have a good relationship with lecturers at several Scottish universities who signpost their best students to us.”

“I didn’t think it would be fair bringing someone who doesn’t like a drink into the team since Muslims don’t drink do they? She will totally feel out of place and I want to lead a team where everyone gets on fine.”

“Of course, everyone knows what to expect at interviews. Why do we need to send an email to them to give them guidance on how an interview will go. It just seems like spoon-feeding really!”

“If you can’t read what is on our website, how can you work here? We can’t possibly make everything in big print for just one person surely!”

“One major requirement for this role is that the candidate must have worked in a similar role in a western country before. That just makes it easier for them to slide into this role.”

The truth is, organisations can and should be proactive in addressing EDI. And there are places to turn to for help.

It’s worth pointing out that most Black folks in Scotland today are first generation immigrants, so the challenges they face are quite unique and different to what a Black person in London, for example, will face. Many struggle to get a chance to kick off their careers.

We hear a lot of organisations lament that they are struggling to reach Black talent. A lot of the problem goes back to how organisations advertise their roles. Many only advertise on their website and within networks that are inherently closed to under-represented groups so of course they don’t get many applications from the Black community.

And when applications do come from the Black community, their success rate is usually lower than that for the traditional white Scottish applicant.

Why is this?

  • These organisations and their hiring managers are not open minded and look for certain kinds of people without realising it. This is where unconscious bias kicks in.
  • The applicants are not supported throughout the application process hence reducing their chance of success.
  • Advertisements include an unnecessary specification for UK experience, which we know does not define success, but which managers request anyway because’s just how we’ve always done it.”

Supporting individuals and employers

The #BlackScotInterns programme connects organisations with Black applicants. And it demonstrates how organisations can actively recruit more inclusively to attract a more diverse talent pool.

Employers can advertise their roles on the Black Professionals Scotland (BPS) website be supported by the BPS team throughout the recruitment process and placement periodAnd we challenge employers to remove unnecessary requirements for UK experience from their job specs to increase the number of applicants.

The applicants are supported by BPS throughout the process from CV reviews to interview preparation and while on the job.  

Delivering for Black interns

Since launching the programme last year, we have created a pool of Black talents. In the first year we placed around 10 interns, in the second year we placed 40 interns across a range of organisations in Scotland, including Tesco Bank and Aegon Asset Management.

On completion of their internship, those still in education went back to their studies. For those that were available to work, around 40% were retained by the host companies which is testament to how well they performed.

The 2023 programme is now open. We are already seeing more organisations come on board and we are looking forward to making an even bigger impact this year.

Find out how to get involved.


Enoch Adeyemi will be part of a workshop on building and retaining a truly inclusive workforce, at the CIPD Scotland Conference.

At the CIPD we want to find ways to drive positive change. This includes a commitment to attracting and supporting the progression of Black and ethnic minority people professionals.


View our guide to inclusive recruitment for employers and managers.