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Changing Our Recruitment

Category: Government, Arts Council England, Changing Recruitment, Values

Red background with white text overlaid spelling Diversity and Inclusion.

Artificial Things by Stopgap Dance Company. Photo © Christopher Parkes / Stopgap Dance Company

Here at the Arts Council we know how important it is to represent the people we work with, fund and support. Our CEO Darren Henley blogs about some of the changes we are making to enable us to do this.

We strongly believe in the importance of diversity – both in the arts and culture sector and in the Arts Council workforce. Our staff should represent the people that we work with, fund and support so we can draw on a range of different experiences, expertise and viewpoints.

After publishing this year's annual Equality, Diversity and Creative Case report, we acknowledged that while we've set the direction of travel, we need to speed up the pace of change. 

We know that the way we recruit our workforce has an impact on the diversity of our staff. It’s important that we don’t alienate, or disadvantage certain groups of applicants and we reduce the chance for unconscious bias.

We commissioned the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and EW Group to conduct in-depth research and use their expert knowledge of recruitment to help us improve our recruitment to make it as fair, open and user-friendly as it can be.

Focusing on skills and experience

We’ve redesigned our application form to be simpler, with questions that help applicants focus on demonstrating the skills and experience necessary for the role. We know that our current recruitment system could be more user-friendly, so we hope the new system we’re currently building will also improve the candidate experience once its launched.

Applicants no longer need to list all their qualifications or include details of where they went to school/university, they only need to highlight qualifications they feel are relevant and they don’t need to say the dates these were awarded. 

All our permanent roles are advertised to external and internal candidates at the same time and we assess everyone against the same criteria. We’re also a Disability Confident Employer, which means we guarantee an interview to any candidate with a declared disability who meets the minimum criteria for the role they’re applying to.

We’re currently rolling out recruitment training for all hiring managers, including how to reduce any potential for unconscious bias. We’ve produced detailed guidance for managers, alongside interview templates and a shortlisting matrix, all re-written to review how panel members score candidates at shortlisting and interview stage to improve consistency and fairness when recruiting.

In addition to this, we’ve reviewed how we word our job adverts and where those adverts are posted, to try and appeal to a more diverse pool of candidates. Going forward, we’ll also be looking at improving our job descriptions and providing guidance to hiring managers on recruitment advertising.

PLAY DOUGH from Unlimited Theatre. Photo © Unlimited Theatre / The Albany

What’s it like on the inside

We’ve produced lots of new information to show potential applicants what it is really like to work for the Arts Council – the wide variety of roles available and the skills we value; our benefits and personal learning and development opportunities; and our creative and passionate people and what they do.

We provide development opportunities to individuals no matter where they are at in their career – from offering apprenticeships to sponsoring qualifications and everything in between. We also support our staff in working flexibly, including job shares, part-time roles, alternative working patters and home working.

What we hope to achieve

We hope these changes will help a wider range of people find out about our vacancies. We want to encourage more people to think of the Arts Council as a place they want to work – a creative, friendly environment where different skills and viewpoints are valued, everyone is encouraged to grow and develop, and where we’re united by our passion for making a difference.

By CEO Darren Henley

Find out more


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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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Arts Council England

Inclusive features

  • Dependency (Parenting & Carers)
  • Staff Network Group
  • Disability (Physical)
  • Generation (Age Friendly)
  • Training & Development
  • Race, Ethnicity & Heritage
  • Home & Flexible Working

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