Cross-industry toolkit

For employers



Ensure practices are accessible and equitable to all applicants.

Many common Hiring practices create artificial barriers for people from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Do candidates really need traditional academic qualifications in order to do the job? You can watch the video to find out more or read our guidance below.


Activities at each level are related, but distinguished by scale, detail or commitment.

Ensure messages in marketing materials have wide appeal – e.g. ‘we’re looking for potential rather than experience’.

Advertise for skills and not qualifications, which can create barriers for applicants.

Be clear about the application process and what is assessed at each stage.

Include role models from a variety of backgrounds.

Recruit from schools, FE colleges and universities that have diversity in their student bodies.

Design engagement activities that connect directly with a school, college or university’s curriculum so that opt-in does not depend wholly on students’ existing interests.

Choose which student societies and/or community groups to sponsor with careful regard to the demographics that this may reach.

Be transparent about eligibility criteria and the broad achievements of successful applicants for similar roles (for example, typical A level or technical qualification grades).


Activities at each level are related, but distinguished by scale, detail or commitment.

Advertise definitions of competences sought, and the characteristics of those who progress in the organisation.

Undertake market research to understand how applicants from different demographics respond to marketing materials, to inform future development.

Work with external organisations, careers services, specific faculties and other experts to design events, programmes and digital activities that engage under-represented groups.

Create inclusive online environments that give applicants detail on application processes and hiring approaches to support diversity and inclusion.


Review your policies and approaches to flexible working, and ensure your offer to staff meets CIPD best practice.

Identify social mobility cold spots across the UK, and investigate options for improving your levels of attraction and recruitment from these areas.

Ensure IT systems enable any applicable job in the organisation be deliverable remotely; subsequently aim to reduce required travel to headquarters.

Ensure senior leaders communicate the effectiveness of
remote working and that inclusion efforts are apparent at all levels of management.

Reimburse applicants who incur travel costs (e.g. to attend an assessment centre).

If a role requires relocation, ensure there is a budget available to support this.


Assess social mobility cold spots as locations for new roles if your business is expanding – identify opportunities for supporting local economic renewal by providing new employment, as well as attracting new talent to your organisation.

Evaluate the impact of flexible working arrangements on your ability to attract, recruit and develop staff from different parts of the country; create policies that enable employees to progress through the organisation without having to move to major city centres.

Place ‘headcount’ limits on hiring in expensive urban centres.

Set targets for offering and take up of training opportunities in regional hubs.


Compare applicant data with external benchmarks to assess how well they reflect the eligible talent pool.

Consider how introducing a range of entry routes into the organisation could support diversity

Offer quality apprenticeships with:

  • progression routes into the organisation or wider industry once completed
  • pastoral support from line managers (with training) and buddying arrangements


Offer a range of non-graduate routes with external and internal communications on how these vary in terms of:

  • the activities involved
  • who they may suit better
  • the competences required for each
  • the prospects of progression

Offer apprenticeships at different levels and provide training in ‘soft skills’ as well as technical.

Ensure higher level apprenticeships are targeted at less advantaged individuals.


Ensure candidate assessment processes are transparent, with easy access to details.

Apply selection processes consistently to all candidates – e.g. avoid preferential treatment for those who apply earlier.

Clarify to all assessors that applicants from lower socio-economic backgrounds may not have access to some premium experiences (e.g. extra-curricular activities, internships and studying abroad).

Examine whether aspects of the selection process might disadvantage certain groups, and redesign as needed.


Reimburse applicants who incur travel costs (e.g. to attend an assessment centre).

Ensure that assessment centres include a range of activities and exercises that are independent of each other and led by different assessors.

Balance competency-based approaches with strengths-based assessment and situational judgement testing as they have fewer negative effects on under-represented groups and are linked to job performance.

Monitor data during the application process to identify where diversity is low, and take immediate action to increase diversity in the pipeline.


Brief recruitment agencies on your organisation’s commitment to advancing socio-economic diversity among hires.

Ensure there is time in recruitment processes to give sufficient attention to advancing diversity.

Monitor the use of referral bonuses to avoid encouraging employees to recruit in their own image.

Implement a robust induction process for lateral hires that demonstrates how talent is identified, valued and rewarded.

Ensure processes for lateral hiring are followed by default, with any exceptions registered and fully explained.


Require recruitment agencies to deliver diverse shortlists with respect to socio-economic background.

Deploy current employees to support attraction activities and act as role models for under-represented groups.

Set managers targets regarding socio-economic diversity in lateral hiring; review performance in decisions about their pay and promotion.

Analyse data on lateral hires to assess the impact on diversity.