Joanna Abeyie


Here are five things creative businesses can do to overcome the challenges of hiring a diverse workforce.

1. Don’t be generic – it’s not one size fits all…

Businesses often make the mistake of assuming that if a particular way of recruiting suits another business it will be suitable for theirs.The first piece of advice I’d give any business is to look at your current workforce, who do you feel falls short in the application process? It’s from this point that you can create bespoke practical solutions to the issues affecting your process.

2. Ask for advice…

Don’t be apprehensive about discussing diversity and inclusion.You don’t have to be an expert in everything that might be affecting an individual’s employment however you do need to educate yourself. If you receive an application from an individual whose experiences might be different to yours or any you’re not familiar with, then seek third party support, experts, consultants, charities and health organisations for their advice. I.E. If someone has a disability, research what that disability is and how it impacts an individual – ask yourself if that really does prevent them from doing their job well? You’ll be surprised at how much we understand from perception rather than education. If you make a judgement on a candidate do so on an informed decision.

Joanna Abeyie

Joanna Abeyie

3. See it, Be It

Show off your visible, diverse role models that you currently have in the business. Even if it’s only one person, if your organisation is inclusive of class, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, individuals with unique backgrounds that go against the typical stereotypical view (take out ‘that you might have’) of talent, show them off. Sometimes, in order to think that something is for you – you need to be able to see people like you. Never underestimate the power of a positive role model that a candidate can relate to. It makes aspirations appear a reality and achievable. Not everyone wants to be the ‘first’ some people like the idea of joining an already inclusive environment.

4. Diversify your interview panel

Ensure that when you invite talent to an interview you have a panel of individuals that will provide a diversity of thought. By that, I mean difference in thinking…it’s one thing to have someone from a black, Asian, minority, ethnic (BAME) background on an interview panel… but it’s different if he/she is BAME but is also an Oxbridge grad, Grammar school educated individual who attended school with his Middle Class white peers, they will all have differences but will they all recognise and value the diversity of thought of someone from a BAME background who is from a working class background for example? Don’t always view diversity in light of ‘protected characteristics’, these are vital but ensure that there is a real diversity of thought on an interview panel, with individuals from different experiences and backgrounds to ensure that a person’s difference, whether aesthetic or not, is considered on merit and not familiarity. If your organisation doesn’t currently feel there is much diversity at senior level, then ask other experienced and relevant professionals across the business to join the panel.Disabled man with work colleagues/team

5. Focus Groups

The best way to learn and grow is to ask for feedback and welcome constructive criticism.We often apply this to ourselves as professionals but not to our recruitment processes.

Before  and sometimes while (where speed requires) recruiting for a business and before providing a bespoke recruitment solution, I often ask the market and my diverse talent pools how they find the recruitment and application process with the aim of discovering what they feel is preventing them from 1, applying, 2, being recruited and 3, being retained within the business. Once I’ve established this, I can help the businesses I serve to ensure their application process and attraction strategy starts off with a competitive advantage. In recruitment – with the tight turn-arounds, skills shortage and need for diversity to cure the creativity crisis that businesses may feel they are facing, prevention is often better than cure. If we want to innovate in our output, we should innovate in our processes to deliver if we really want to stay competitive and be seen as market leaders.

About the author: Joanna Abeyie is an award-winning, agenda-setting Diversity Champion and Recruiter, Social Campaigner, TV Executive, Broadcaster and Journalist. Aged just 29, Joanna’s TV productions saw her recognised among Broadcast Magazine’s Hotshots of 2016.

She founded the award-winning creative industry diverse talent recruitment business Shine Media in 2009, which recently morphed into Hyden as part of leading global recruiter SThree PLC. Hyden is a champion of diverse senior leadership talent in the creative industries, it leads the industry in providing innovative and unique services such as management on-boarding and post-placement mentoring. Having helped to place more than 3,000 people from diverse backgrounds in permanent and freelance jobs in the creative industries, it is Joanna’s efforts in improving the creative industry’s diversity that truly has made her stand out.