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Fair Recruitment Specialist Initiative

Overview

As part of UCL's work on the Race Equality Charter, we are creating a pool of highly-trained Fair Recruitment Specialists who will bring very valuable input into recruitment activity across UCL. The Specialists are volunteers drawn from UCL staff that identify as Black and Minority Ethnic (BME). This is in response to feedback from departments that highlighted how it is often difficult to have sufficient diversity on panels, particularly because BME staff are underrepresented in certain roles and grades at UCL. Our aim is to bring visible diversity to our recruitment panels.

UCL's recruitment policy is to seek to select the best candidates for our positions based solely on merit. Yet considerable research shows that certain aspects of candidate's identity, such as their gender or ethnicity, may differentially, but subtly, shape the expectations and behaviours of a recruitment panel and consequently the selection outcome. This is not necessarily the result of overt prejudice and can instead be caused by the implicit biases that everyone brings into the process of evaluating candidates, particularly in the relatively informal process of the interview, where subjective judgements are often made. 

For these reasons, diverse recruitment panels are regarded as a significant element in fair and effective recruitment. It adds a variety of perspectives to decision-making, helps mitigate against 'cloning' and the perpetuation of current profiles, reduces the possibility of stereotyping, can improve candidate performance by reducing 'stereotype threat' and is a visible demonstration of UCL's commitment to diversity and inclusion. 


Frequently Asked Questions

How will the process work?

Staff selected as Fair Recruitment Specialists have undertaken training in UCL's recruitment policy, good practice in assessment skills, and awareness of unconscious bias.

At the outset of each recruitment activity, Recruiting Managers should contact the EDI team via equalities@ucl.ac.uk. They should provide the job title of the post being recruited to, and the dates for planned shortlisting and interviews. The EDI team will then put a call out to the Fair Recruitment Specialists who will respond based on their availability. The EDI team will pass on the available Fair Recruitment Specialists' contact details to the Recruiting Manager, along with a brief contract for both to sign to confirm arrangements.

Recruiting Managers and Fair Recruitment Specialists agree on the level of involvement between the two. Recruiting Managers are encouraged to involve the Fair Recruitment Specialists at the earliest stage. 

Fair Recruitment Specialists become another member of the shortlisting panel and interview panel.

The Chair of the panel will ensure that Fair Recruitment Specialists participate in the selection process according to the pre-agreed parameters. 

Is it tokenism to involve black and minority ethnic staff in recruitment panels in areas outside of their experience?  

The intention is to bring more visible diversity to UCL's recruitment panels. We hope this will help reduce the 'stereotype threat' that Black and Minority Ethnic candidates may experience when faced with an all-white panel. It will also demonstrate UCL's commitment to inclusion for all interview candidates. 

Fair Recruitment Specialists are there to be far more than a face on a panel though. They have been trained in UCL recruitment policy, assessment skills and unconscious bias. They will bring all these skills along to the selection process and contribute to a consistent approach across varied departments.

 

Can only black and minority ethnic staff who are from a visible minority become Fair Recruitment Specialists?

We understand and acknowledge that people with identities from white backgrounds also face forms of discrimination, for example white Eastern European people.   However, for this initiative we are focussing our efforts on the identities that experience the most material disadvantage according to our staff data, which indicates significant under representation for black and minority ethnic staff from a visible minority.

UCL’s Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) work is made up of various work streams.  Some focus on EDI in a generic/comprehensive way and others focus on particular identities, depending on context and circumstance.  At this stage, the scheme is therefore only open to black and minority ethnic staff as we believe this where a targeted scheme will have the most impact but we will continually keep this under review.

 

Will the Fair Recruitment Specialist provide admin support to the recruitment process? 

The Fair Recruitment Specialists have been trained in selection and assessment skills. They are there to add value to the process, not relieve others of their responsibilities. 

What value will using a Fair Recruitment Specialist add to the recruitment and selection process?

UCL's recruitment policy seeks to select the best candidates for our positions based solely on merit. Yet there is considerable research that shows aspects of a candidate's identity, such as their gender or ethnicity, may differentially, but subtly, shape the expectations and behaviours of a recruitment panel and consequently the selection outcome. This is not necessarily the result of overt prejudice and can instead be caused by the implicit biases that everyone brings into the process of evaluating candidates, particularly in the relatively informal process of the interview, where subjective judgements are often made. 

For these reasons, diverse recruitment panels are regarded as a significant element in fair and effective recruitment. It adds a variety of perspectives to decision-making, helps mitigate against 'cloning' and the perpetuation of current profiles, reduces the possibility of stereotyping, can improve candidate performance by reducing 'stereotype threat' and is a visible demonstration of UCL's commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Fair Recruitment Specialists can facilitate best practice by helping recruiting managers hire the best candidate. Their use will support the increase of the consistency in UCL recruitment practice as they will work across different departments. 

How can someone with limited or no knowledge of the job be an asset to the recruitment panel?

Fair Recruitment Specialists will act as 'cross functional interviewers'. Organisations such as Google have led the way in their use. As they have no connection with the job or the departments they are able to remain objective and contribute to keeping quality of hiring high. 

How were or are the Fair Recruitment Specialists recruited?

An open invitation went out asking staff who identify as Black or Minority Ethnic to express an interest in becoming a Fair Recruitment Specialist. These staff went on to receive training to enable them to undertake this role. 

Why do we have the scheme?

The scheme has been initiated as part of UCL's progress within the Race Equality Charter Mark. This is a national scheme aimed at improving the representation, progress and success of minority ethnic staff and students within higher education.

At UCL there remains a striking disparity between the proportion of Black and Minority Ethnic students and BME academic staff. In our most senior Professional Services roles, very few staff are from Black or Minority Ethnic background, despite London being one of the most diverse cities in the world. Therefore, our Race Equality Charter Mark work aims to improve these figures. 

What do Fair Recruitment Specialists get out of this scheme?

In return for giving their time and commitment Fair Recruitment Specialists benefit by:

  • Playing an important role in decision making at the University
  • Receiving high-level training 
  • Building new relationships in other parts of UCL 
  • Demonstrating an 'enabling' activity that can be recognised in promotion 
  • Boosting their CV and profile at UCL
  • Helping UCL meet its aspirations on equality, diversity and inclusion. 
How can I volunteer to be a Fair Recruitment Specialist?

Please check your eligibility by reading the above FAQs and complete an

and submit to equalities@ucl.ac.uk We will acknowledge receipt and get back in touch when the next training sessions are available, this is likely to be organised when sufficient numbers are on the waiting list.  Thank you in advance for your interest in supporting this important initiative.

Further information 


Contact

equalities@ucl.ac.uk