Building an Inclusive Government department — removing unconscious bias in recruitment

The Department for Education (DfE) Digital, part of DfE, focuses on building services that are user-centred and easy to use while improving people’s digital skills and capabilities. The work DfE Digital does supports people on the frontline in schools,
colleges, universities, nurseries and social care.

As part of the UK’s Civil Service, the wider DfE is committed to becoming the most inclusive employer by 2023, ensuring it embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities.

For new civil servants joining DfE Digital, the recruitment process will be their first interaction. It’s therefore crucial to minimise the possibility of bias and discrimination throughout the hiring process, and to continually review their approach to make sure it’s effective. DfE Digital partnered with eSynergy’s Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) team to run a pilot to become a more inclusive employer.

eSynergy’s Community and Diversity Manager, Harriet Hadley, facilitated a train the-trainer-workshop on bias and inclusive interviewing training for DfE Digital’s recruitment team. The recruitment team then trains other colleagues and this knowledge and insight is shared across the wider department and more people learn how to recognise potential bias and are better equipped to overcome it.

40 DfE Digital employees were trained during the pilot which will be mandatory for everyone involved in the recruitment process.

DfE Digital and eSynergy worked together to make sure job adverts are now written using inclusive language and cite that DfE digital is an inclusive employer. Since then, the recruitment team has seen a 30% rise in candidate engagement (emails and follow-up phone calls) compared to the 3 month period before we began this work.

“The training was the highlight of my week”

—Chief Digital and Technology Officer

“Working with Harriet and the eSynergy team was a

pleasure, they were supportive and there every step of

the way. I really appreciated their role as a ‘critical friend’,

highlighting how we could improve and adapt our ideas.”

—Katie Pether, Recruitment Lead