Viewpoints

From Compliant to Inclusive – Accessibility at SmartRecruiters


May 17, 2019 –
Sarah Wilson, Head of People, SmartRecruiters

For a business whose purpose is to sell HR and recruiting software, it’s no surprise that SmartRecruiters is laser-focused on creating a diverse and truly inclusive team. One of the company’s top goals is reducing the initial barriers to entry often faced by differently-abled people before they even enter the workplace.

“By eliminating roadblocks and doing what you can as a company to reduce entry barriers, you’re automatically going to create a more inclusive workforce and attract a different demographic into your pipeline,” says Sarah Wilson, Head of People at SmartRecruiters. Specifically, hearing and visually impaired candidates cannot find a job and apply for it if your website is not accessible to them. “You’re not even going to see those candidates if they don’t know how to apply. This trickles down from the recruitment process to your workforce.” With this in mind, the company recently spent a significant amount of time making sure their own landing pages and career sites, as well as their own product, were more accessible for the hearing and seeing impaired.

How do you make your company’s website more accessible?  Once you understand the underlying barriers that may inadvertently exist on your site, there are some relatively easy changes you can make to ensure it’s all-user friendly — like making sure it’s keyboard-friendly (many assistive technologies use keyboard-only navigation), adding accurate alt-text descriptions to images, and choosing colorblind-friendly layout. 

From a product perspective, SmartRecruiters has integrated continuous accessibility improvements into their development process. “We have built automated audits to discover any issues violating the WCAG v2.1 – the standard for Accessibility online – and regularly perform manual audits for issues that can’t be identified by the automated tests. Every time we discover a new issue, apart from fixing it, we have a process to update our tooling so that the issue can’t be introduced again,” explains Natalia Baryshnikova, Head of Product Management. “In order to reduce the number of issues when we build new features, our design system is built in compliance with WCAG v2.1. As a result, all commonly used design components such as buttons are already tested and approved to meet international Accessibility compliance standards.”

“Our accessibility initiative is important not only for our own workforce, but it’s also important that we’re a role model in regards to D&I for our customers,” Wilson says. SmartRecruiters hosts lunch and learns (“Smart Lunches”) weekly, and once a month they host a discussion led by an external expert. They recently used this opportunity to host an accessibility expert who also helped assess the functionality of their workplace. Is the login station at the entrance of the building accessible for someone in a wheelchair? Are the hallways wide enough? Compliance does not equal inclusion. It’s not enough to simply be ADA-friendly — this initiative veers further into the fully-inclusive lane and creates an environment in which everyone feels welcome.

For SmartRecruiters, creating a truly inclusive workplace goes beyond numbers and figures. “It’s not about reportable statistics,” says Wilson. “It’s about building a space where it’s truly safe to be yourself — which can be anything. Companies that do this well and celebrate individualism are the companies that will win in the diversity challenge.”