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Diversity Shortlisting: Practical Steps for Recruitment Firms to Achieve More Diverse Shortlists

As recruiters, we have a unique role to play in the ongoing effort to achieve greater diversity and inclusion in the business world. This mission inspired our work at Oliver Sanderson, and thanks to our extensive outreach work and proud track record of high-profile appointments of candidates from minority backgrounds, our firm is now known as a leader in this space.

We are often asked – “how can you ensure a diverse shortlist?”

While every search is different, there are some important steps we take in every assignment to achieve better results from a DEI perspective.

Here are some practical steps you can take to achieve more diverse shortlists:

Engage with DEI Networks  

Recruitment firms can expand their reach and increase diversity by engaging with networks that support under-represented communities. These networks can include employee resource groups, professional organizations, networking forums, and advocacy groups.

These networks and communities, often anchored and organised on LinkedIn, provide vital forums and support networks for minority candidates. By partnering with these groups, recruitment firms can tap into their networks to source qualified candidates, establish relationships with underrepresented communities, and build trust with candidates from diverse backgrounds.

Harness AI

Technology has revolutionized the way we work, streamlining the hiring process, improving candidate engagement, and providing new avenues for sourcing diverse talent.

The hottest trend right now is AI, and AI-powered recruitment software can help identify and eliminate unconscious biases in job descriptions and job postings, while also matching candidates with job requirements more effectively.

Adapting Research Methods

Recruitment firms can adapt their research methods to uncover the next generation of talent from ethnic minority communities. Traditional methods such as job boards and referrals tend to favour traditional candidates, while research methods that focus on community networks and associations can help identify talented candidates from ethnic minority groups.

DEI Training

Recruitment firms can also invest in training and education for their consultants to improve their understanding of different cultures and communities, which can help them identify and attract diverse talent. We provide diversity training to our team to raise their awareness of unconscious bias and foster a more inclusive workplace culture. Our recruiters are trained to recognise and mitigate any potential bias that may affect the selection process.

Track Diversity Metrics

We track and monitor diversity metrics throughout the recruitment process to ensure that we are meeting our diversity goals. We measure our success by tracking the percentage of diverse candidates in our pipeline and the number of diverse candidates hired.

If you’re not tracking your DEI metrics yet, start today. It’s the best way to monitor your progress, providing data analysis opportunities that will prove invaluable as you develop your strategy moving forward.


There is a lot of talk about DEI in our industry. But sadly, there is far less action. Diversity shortlisting represents a powerful way that we can actually make a positive difference. But achieving more diverse shortlists isn’t easy, particularly in certain industries. While every research team differs in this strategy and approach, there are some practical steps and principles that every firm can implement to improve in this area. As recruiters, we have a unique opportunity to help our clients become more diverse and inclusive, and by adopting a DEI lens to guide our searches, we can achieve success to foster real change.


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