• Maria Hvorostovsky

How to Build Inclusive Leadership Teams and Recruit More BAME and Female Candidates

It’s been a decade since the Equality Act was introduced in the UK and inclusivity in the workplace has improved, albeit slowly.


The area we’ve seen the least amount of change is undoubtedly leadership. However, we have witnessed more diversity in the form of BAME and Women’s lists being dominated by “firsts”:


To name a few, Maria Grazia Chiuri became Dior’s first ever female Creative Director in 2016. Edward Enningful became the first black Editor of British Vogue in 2017. And in July 2019, Chanel appointed Fiona Pargeter to the newly-created role of Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion.


But a series of ‘firsts’ only matters if it leads to continued evolution.


This decade has seen the start of a turning point for diverse leadership, but the true impact will come when these appointments cease to be radical and cease to be ‘firsts’.


This will only happen if companies address and adapt their current business models. And if leaders take deliberate action to make their company more diverse and inclusive.


In this article, I talk about why this is not only the right thing to do morally, but why the lack of diversity is a problem that must be fixed in order to ensure your brand’s future success.


And this starts with your hiring and recruitment strategy, which is why I explore a method that will allow you to find more diverse talent.



Each year, there is more evidence that diverse teams with people of varying race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation produce better results.


  • Companies with inclusive talent practices generate up to 30% higher revenue per employee. (Deloitte)

  • Gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their competitors and ethnically-diverse companies are 35% more likely to do the same. (McKinsey)

  • Not only that, 67% of job seekers say they care about your diversity statistics. (Human Resources online)


Without leaders who reflect the diversity of ALL communities you are trying to sell to, you will not be operating at optimum performance. A team of people similar in age, gender and ethnicity won’t be able to identify and understand issues that arise in ALL communities. Therefore, they won’t be able to develop solutions that effectively address the needs of the populations they’re trying to serve.


The Fashion, Beauty and Luxury industries have often relied on exclusivity to sell products, but nowadays this business model simply doesn’t work. Consumers are a lot more global and resonating with them, especially the Millennial and Gen Z populations, requires creating a climate of inclusion.


You cannot do this without the right people in your team.


So how do you make your hiring strategy more inclusive?



Positive Action Needs To Be Taken To Recruit More BAME and Female Candidates


In 2020, only five FTSE 100 companies are steered by women. There are just six ethnic minority directors in the position of chair or CEO in the FTSE 100 and nine in the FTSE 250 Over a third of FTSE 100 companies do not have any BAME board members.


It’s clear that things need to change.


At HVO Search, we think that tailoring your hiring strategy for different groups of people will make a huge difference to the diversity and success of your company.


A one size-fits-all hiring strategy is biased in itself, as it fails to acknowledge that BAME applicants are already at a significant disadvantage. So, how do you de-bias your hiring strategy?


The trouble with hiring based on merit is that this often leads to people from wealthier backgrounds, who went to a higher ranking university and were given opportunities that others don’t have. White men dominate this category.


Furthermore, in a corporate culture, hiring based on “fit” often means hiring “people like us”.


The first steps to becoming more diverse are changing this hiring method and culture.


Build a process and culture where “fit” means people who expand who you are. Inclusivity and diversity aren’t just a box ticking exercise, they are crucial to your future success.


Consider implementing a different hiring process for BAME, female and male candidates, with the frontrunner from each group being interviewed at the final interview stage. This allows people from different backgrounds and communities an equal opportunity.


The truth is that you don’t need to search far and wide or train BAME, and female candidates for these roles. There are plenty of smart, capable and diverse candidates ready for these jobs. The system just needs altering so that they are found.


It’s crucial to be deliberate about making your company diverse - and the sooner you do it, the faster you enjoy the rewards.