BNSSG Healthier Together

Inclusive Recruitment Toolkit

The Inclusive Recruitment Toolkit is a selection of resources to help you create an inclusive recruitment process in your organisation.

We’ve taken best practices and great examples from organisations in our Integrated Care System and compiled them all in one place, so they can be used to improve how we recruit.

Recruitment can be a time and resource intensive process, so the more we get right first time, to get top talent into our organisations, the more benefits we will see in our system.

Video: Advice on inclusive recruitment


The Inclusive Recruitment Blueprint

The Inclusive Recruitment Blueprint is broken down into five key stages:

  1. Prepare
  2. Advertise
  3. Shortlist
  4. Interview
  5. Outcomes

Decorative graphic showing the five key stages of the Inclusive Recruitment Blueprint.Inclusive Recruitment Blueprint illustration courtesy of West Yorkshire NHS Partnerships.

The blueprint has a strong focus on bringing diversity to our teams. NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard Data shows us so far that people from diverse backgrounds are statistically less likely to make it through the recruitment and selection process than white candidates, so the toolkit aims to ensure the process is fair and the best candidates are hired.


Job creation

Job design, or redesign, is a process of determining job roles and what a job involves, as well as how it relates to other relevant jobs and the organisation’s structure. It includes deciding on the duties and responsibilities of the job holder, the way the job is done, as well as what support and resources the job holder needs. CIPD

If a hiring manager fills out the recruitment paperwork, such as the job advertisement and description, and sends it to HR for processing, there is a possibility that the manager may be recruiting someone like the current post holder without assessing whether the service requirements have changed or developed over time.

This could lead to bias in the process with the manager hiring the same type of person for the role without exploring a more diverse candidate pool.

Consider the implications of mergers and impact on the needs of the service, impact of technology and changes to the role.

Collaborate with key stakeholders when designing the role to ensure different perspectives are considered.

Job banding and evaluation

Jobs in the NHS are compared with each other to decide at what band they should be paid and underpins the NHS Agenda for Change (AfC) pay structure.

The job evaluation process is designed to be consistent and ensure fair outcomes and equal pay for equal work for all NHS staff.

NHS Employers offer a transparent and comprehensive job evaluation guide

Please note even with the use of job banding guidance, there are gender and ethnicity pay gaps, and it doesn’t mean discrimination cannot occur.

Jobs that should go through job evaluation include all new jobs, those affected by service redesign or organisational change and if an existing job has changed significantly.

Positive Action

Positive action is the deliberate use of proportionate measures to eliminate or reduce discrimination, or its effects to overcome disadvantage, or low participation in education, training, and welfare.

The Equality Act 2010 sections 158 (general) and 159 (recruitment) provide the lawful basis for developing positive action initiatives.

A Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire positive action framework has been developed which includes useful information, FAQs and a planning template.

Positive action is a useful tool to tackle past discrimination and offer training and development opportunities for disadvantaged groups to level the playing field.

It is not a substitute for tackling institutional obstacles. Positive action should complement additional inclusive recruitment approaches.

Review the CIPD Job Design factsheet for useful tips

Job Description and Person Specification

One challenge for creating job descriptions and essential criteria to be tested is how to create them with a small number of interview criteria when the Agenda for Change job evaluation scheme has so many factors to consider.

Standardised Job Descriptions

Consider whether job descriptions can be standardised centrally and applied locally.

With the volume of job descriptions, there may be challenges with the lack of resources.

The Health Education England Star is an interactive model designed to support workforce transformation

This will prompt you to consider what workforce requirements are as services evolve or new services are designed.

Consistency in the structure of job descriptions, and the use of language is particularly important and is addressed in the review points below.

Recommendations and best practice guides



Job adverts can attract some demographic groups and deter others.

Adverts used may deter potential applicants who do not see themselves working in such an environment – most notably potential female, disabled and minority ethnic applicants.

Guidance from on using a range of communication channels to reach disabled people

Guidance from on inclusive language


It’s critically important to ensure that a wide range of advertising and promotional channels are used for jobs, and that attempts are made to go beyond the usual networks and much wider into communities.

Jobs need to be proactively advertised through wider community networks and stakeholders and beyond standard job websites and LinkedIn.

Promoting opportunities at diverse events

Consider using different methods to advertise job roles, such as holding open days to give job insights and support with applying, depending on the band, staff group, grade, and the number of roles available.

Consider collaborating with other providers to have a presence at large diverse events to promote roles. For example, Bristol Pride, Bristol Islamic Cultural Fair, Our City, Your Jobs, Health and Care Refugee Recruitment events.

Recruitment Agencies, Graduate Recruitment, PR and Communications

When using recruitment or headhunting agencies, ensure they meet legal requirements not to discriminate and that they will meet NHS inclusive and fairer recruitment standards.

It is possible to ask agencies to reach specific underrepresented groups to achieve a more diverse applicant pool. This is called positive action.

Understanding and communicating with different generations with a mixture of communication channels should be part of the attraction and recruitment strategy.

Each generation will have preferred communication channels, and the use of these should be maximised with the right messaging to attract talent from different age ranges. Your communications team may be able to provide advice.

Case study: King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust award-winning recruitment campaign

NHS Employers’ Inspire, Attract and Recruit toolkit has resources and guidance to support your workforce supply.

Recommendations and best practice guides

Application process

Research demonstrates that at each stage of the recruitment and career progression cycle, it is remarkably easy for decisions to be made that will disadvantage some groups of staff.

This is true for the risk of relying on CVs and references since they may be written and read differently depending on the protected characteristic of the author. –  Roger Kline, No More Tick Boxes

Recommendations and best practice guides



The expectation should be that on average, over time, the likelihood of people who are white and minority ethnic, men and women, disabled, and non-disabled being appointed and promoted, should be approximately the same.

Removing biases from the shortlisting process is key to recruiting diverse talent. This section provides actions to achieve this.

Recruiting managers and shortlisters should also receive regular training to address implicit biases.

Recommendations and best practice guides



Careful panel preparation ahead of the interview is key to effective and fair interviews. This can be a real challenge when panel members have demanding jobs and are not aware of the multiple ways in which bias stereotypes, assumptions and behaviours can influence decision making.

Consistent application by NHS organisations is a challenge because of work and time pressures. It is also a challenge due to a lack of clarity and awareness of the risks of bias, stereotypes, and assumptions by many of those shortlisting and interviewing.

Removing biases from the interview process is key to recruiting diverse talent. This section provides actions to achieve this.

Recommendations and best practice guides



Once you have seen all your candidates, it’s time to make a decision.

If you have agreed on a successful candidate, it’s important to not stop there. Getting your offer letter out promptly with clear instructions of what you need the candidate to do, is likely to get the candidate’s buy-in and make them more likely to accept your offer.

Keep engaging with them to see if they have any other questions that have come up and keep the process of getting to know each other going, to start a strong working relationship.

Think too about the unsuccessful candidates, providing them with useful, positive feedback about why you didn’t appoint them will leave them with a good impression of the organisation. It will also encourage them to engage with you in the future and apply for other roles.

Recommendations and best practice guides


After the interview and talent management

Poor feedback and a lack of honest evaluation and support going forward will deter other staff from under-represented staff from applying for promotion. It is likely to be compounded by the “protective hesitancy” or ”benevolent sexism.”. – Roger Kline, No More Tick Boxes

Candidates should be made aware of how they may raise informal or formal concerns about their experience during the applications, interviews, or post appointment.

Recommendations and best practice guides