Bias and Inclusive Recruitment

Research into unconscious bias against disabled and older people in the workplace


A ‘systems analysis’ approach to understanding the job market for older and disabled people in Cornwall

Hybrid Working

Supporting small businesses to develop a culture of inclusion as they transition to hybrid working

Welcome to The Inclusivity Project: Diversity enriches business

The Inclusivity Project, funded with support from European Regional Development Fund and the SW Academic Health Science Network, was a partnership between the University of Exeter, Age UK Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Disability Cornwall and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.

The Inclusivity Project worked with and researched small, medium and micro enterprises in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to generate a better understanding of some of the challenges and opportunities that employers had towards creating inclusive places to work for people who are 50+, who were disabled, and/or had a long-term health condition.

Our research and support through our Knowledge Exchange service has empowered SMEs to overcome the challenges and barriers they have faced in their aim to be, and support a more inclusive workplace, both pre and post pandemic.

Our research

Older bias

Unconscious bias and inclusive recruitment

Our research used the Implicit Association Test to look at unconscious bias towards disabled people and older people in the business community. We were particularly interested to examine levels of unconscious bias by people making hiring decisions, and any differences between smaller and larger companies.


Policy and the system

We used a system mapping approach to identify and connect factors that help or hinder older and disabled people from having a job. We found the employment system, as a social system, combined with the geography of Cornwall, creates reinforcing negative employment practices among many SMEs which act as hurdles for their employment.

Hybrid Working

Hybrid working and resilience

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we view work, modern offices and ourselves as a workforce. SMEs and frontline organisations may not have the time and resource to focus systematically on this transition in work culture. We explored the key issues of implementing hybrid working in a frontline SME.

Promoting workplace inclusivity through research and funding

Workplace inclusivity means having a diverse range of staff, maximising their potential and looking after their different wellbeing needs.

At The Inclusivity Project, we wanted to help small to medium-sized Cornish businesses gain the value of workers of different ages, abilities, and health conditions. We did this in two ways:

  • By doing research, led by the University of Exeter.
  • By funding ideas from local businesses.

We put these two perspectives together with the voices from our partner organisations’ lived experience.

Find out more about the project >

Read our case studies >

Download our resource on inclusivity for policymakers >

Research that supports SMEs in Cornwall and beyond

It was shown that big corporations profit when they create inclusivity. It was time to hear the small business perspective in our region.

Cornwall had more older people than ever before. And they wanted to work. Disabled people, and people with long-term health conditions, also wanted to work – and keep working, despite Coronavirus forcing them take extra care.

The Inclusivity Project had been researching how employers like you would adapt. Could the remodelling of your work life with Covid-19 be a chance to remake your approach to people with better diversity?

It was our aim to use the evidence base of the previous 3 years to provide practical tools to help you grow your company’s approach to people.

Find out how to implement hybrid working in your business here >

Find out about unconscious bias and take the bias test here >

Archive of news from The Inclusivity Project

Big firms are failing to reduce unconscious bias against disabled people

A study funded through the Inclusivity Project has shown that working for a big company or in an HR role does not lower the likelihood of showing unconscious bias against disabled people at work. Our researchers say this is ‘surprising’ because of the money big firms...

Invisible disabilities – our contribution to a new parliamentary briefing

We were pleased to be able to contribute research to a parliamentary briefing that highlights the challenges faced by people with invisible disabilities in education and work. Thanks to Dr Daniel Derbyshire and Kirsten Whiting who are among the external reviewers for...

International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD)

December 3rd 2022 was International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) – a day first proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly back in 1992. While huge steps have been taken to support the inclusivity at work of disabled people, there is still much to do....

Panel discussion to mark National Inclusion Week 2022

To mark National Inclusion Week (27th Sept to 2nd Oct 2022) we held a panel discussion around inclusivity with Chaos TV.  The theme of the week has been 'Time to Act: the Power of Now', and the discussion looks at this as well as the core themes around inclusion that...

Making Work Work for Everyone

Making Work Work for Everyone In September 2022 we held a conference with the aim of improving policy around inclusivity at work. The event was a great success, with key note speakers Dame Carol Black and Dr Christian van Stolk, Kim Conchie from Cornwall Chamber of...

Dr Theo Blackmore, disAbility Cornwall: The COVID workplace revolution – and beyond.

COVID-19 lockdowns changed the working world overnight for everyone. The changes that happened were things that many disabled people had sought for decades. The ability to work from home, including the relevant tech; flexible working hours rather than a strict 9 to 5...

Case study: Thoughtune App

The Thoughtune app helps people to manage anxiety, depression and addictive behaviours. The app uses psychological theory and gamified interventions to help people set goals and manage their own behaviour. An Innovation Grant from The Inclusivity Project helped...

Case study: Citizen’s Advice

Like many organisations, Citizens Advice Cornwall have been thinking about how best to deliver services digitally. Working with Inclusivity researcher Dr. Daniel Derbyshire, they launched a new customer survey to find out what people in Cornwall think about Citizens...

Case study: CHAOS Cornwall

CHAOS (Community Helping All of Society) use a co-creation approach to developing work within their organisation.  With input from Dr. Esmaeil Khedmati-Morase, an Inclusivity Project specialist in Complex Systems, they were able to level up their collaborative process...

Case study: Farming Health Hub

Farming Health Hub CIC provides partnership, support and information for the farming community. They are working with Inclusivity Project researcher Dr. Lucy Szaboova and project partners Age UK to explore what would help older people living in farming communities to...