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Five ways recruiters can increase workplace diversity

Recruiting leaders know that if their companies aren’t sourcing and hiring for diversity, they are missing valuable talent and experience argues James McGill, VP International Customer Success, EMEA & APAC for HireVue

In the world of recruitment, diversity and inclusion are so often the causes of many a restless night. However, current diversity initiatives are often inadequate, leaving companies to face a multitude of barriers. This ranges from the struggle to find diverse candidates in the first place, to the failure to convince them to accept a role, once you’ve got them through the door. Sound familiar?

In order to overcome this challenge, organisations typically implement a number of corporate strategies to attract a more diverse pool of candidates. This can include employee training, diversity policies, “CV blinding” and compliance-based reporting. Whilst they sound impressive on paper, these solutions rarely change hiring behaviours within a company. For this, the main obstacle recruitment needs to overcome is the impact of unconscious human bias, which previous studies have shown to influence up to 40 per cent of hiring decisions.

So, how can you overcome unconscious bias, to increase the impartiality of hiring?

Show the diversity you’re looking for, in the hiring team
It may seem obvious, but if you want to attract more diverse candidates, you must ensure that the interview panel reflects diversity. Many organisations see the benefit of a diverse interview panel, which allows for a range of experiences to be included in the discussion. This also helps candidates feel more comfortable. It sends a clear message to prospective employees and your current employees that you are committed to an inclusive culture. More importantly, recent research suggests that organisations that implement diverse interview panels are seeing a 41 per cent increase in the percentage of new female and minority hires. When you consider the significance of this number, diverse hiring becomes so much more important than a box-ticking exercise and one which can drive real business impact.

Make sure your job descriptions are inclusive
An often-overlooked strategy, but one that’s relatively simple to execute, is to review your job postings with fresh eyes and omit any phrases that could indicate bias and deter candidates from applying. An example of this is to remove aggressive words such as “decisive” or “superior” from your job specifications, instead replacing them with more inclusive terms like “committed” and “responsible.” Similarly, terms such as “rock star” or “ninja” tend to have masculine connotations and may discourage some female candidates from applying for a role within your organisation. If you are looking to attract a more diverse pool of talent, these words should be removed or switched with more gender-neutral terms.

Think outside the box, when it comes to hiring sources
Whilst we all have our own tried-and-tested methods for finding candidates, you may need to expand your go-to platforms for advertising new roles, to reach a broader mix of talent. For example, exclusively promoting new roles on social media may receive a greater volume of millennial and Gen-Z applicants, as they are generally more actively engaged on these platforms. Similarly, companies which heavily recruit via internal referrals may find they are hiring many similar candidates over a period of time. It’s also worth bearing in mind that some job seekers still use (sometimes highly niche) job boards or learn about positions through word of mouth – so there is no catch-all solution. Instead, it’s important to make sure you are spreading the net far and wide, making use of a combination of methods, to best reach the greatest variety of applicants. Don’t forget the traditional methods of recruitment websites, as well as LinkedIn and other social media.

Ditch the CV, in favour of video interviews
The CV was designed as a general overview for recruiters to judge potential employees, based on factors such as work experience or education and has been the pivotal point of recruitment for a long time.. However, studies have shown that rating candidates by these incidental factors is one of the worst predictors of performance. In fact, rating candidates based on core and soft skills is a much better indicator of potential and allows you to open up the talent pool for people to apply based on ability, rather than background. But how can you do this?

Structured video interviews are a great way to narrow your candidate pool, based on their skills and attributes versus experience. It also makes the job application process more accessible to a broader range of applicants. Candidates record answers to a structured question set at a time and in a place that suits them, allowing recruiters and hiring managers to review the responses (and any data the platform collates around them) at their convenience. Not only does this allow you to consider more candidates, due to the accessibility of a video interview, but, seeing as all candidates answer the same questions, you create a more objective and fair evaluation process that ensures consistency in hiring decisions.

Incorporate AI into the decision-making process to reduce bias
There are many discussions in the media about the use of AI in recruitment and the fear that it could be just as biased as the human alternative, if proper attention is not paid to its coding or implementation. However, the reality is that unconscious bias is most common in interviews with humans.

Whether deliberate or not, even well-intentioned recruiters and hiring managers have biases that play a significant role in their hiring process. Any factors can be taken into consideration; perhaps the interviewer had a tough weekend with their family, impacting their attitude during a Monday morning interview. Such distractions can disadvantage a potentially perfect candidate.. In contrast, AI doesn’t have a bad day and will offer the same consistent experience to every candidate.

It’s important to ask any vendor offering an AI-driven recruiting technology to describe the ways that they combat bias in the development and implementation of their algorithms. Some have developed and are stringently following strong best practices in the mitigation of bias in their technologies, and some are not. Then ask whether any of their customers are increasing diversity through the use of these technologies, as well. The proof is in the metrics. From small tweaks to larger technology implementations, there are a number of ways companies can significantly reduce unconscious bias in their hiring – so why not take the first step toward reimagining your recruiting processes today?

About Sarah OBeirne


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