Conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace are louder and clearer than ever before — and it’s heartening to see more and more organizations listen and take note.
Recognizing these as a hiring necessity stems from the realization that they are a powerful enabler of business performance and success. A McKinsey report on diversity and financial performance showed that companies with a diverse workforce are over 20% more likely to see above-average profits. The report also revealed that there is a direct correlation between the diversity level in the organization and its sales revenue growth.
Thus, businesses no longer just have a moral obligation to reduce recruitment bias but also significant performance incentives to do so. Is unconscious bias hampering your efforts and costing your business money? Let’s take a look at strategies that you can put in place to make your hiring process more inclusive.
Your first opportunity to communicate with potential employees is through job descriptions and recruiting emails. These give job seekers a glimpse of life at your company and what is required out of them. Unfortunately, job descriptions are often marred by the use of biased and prejudiced terms.
For instance, describing an ideal candidate using phrases like “killer instinct” or saying “the candidate will report to his manager”, has masculine undertones that may be off-putting to female candidates.
Beyond racial and gender discrimination, it's also important to avoid educational discrimination. “Ivy League” and “top tier” are some terms used by employers to run ads and these very often discourage qualified, eligible candidates from applying to roles for which they are a great fit. Even the use of culturally weighted language, including slang and sports metaphors pertaining to a region, are instances of bias.
Such misses are rarely deliberate or malevolent; but we cannot deny their impact in alienating certain groups and individuals. This is where tools like Text.io can help. By identifying implicitly gendered language, jargon-loaded phrases, and words with cultural or regional biases in job descriptions and hiring emails, they help companies showcase their culture better and weed out prejudice.
Even with a well-intended job description, biases are not fully eliminated. There is still the danger of automatic judgments that arise from past associations or assumptions. According to a landmark study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, “white-sounding” names like Emily and Greg perform better in terms of replies and conversion than “black-sounding” names like Lakisha or Jamal. The study also suggests that employers who describe themselves as ‘Equal Opportunity Employer’ discriminate just as much as others.
One way to remove personal bias at the screening stage is to use AI tools to shield candidate details such as name, gender, age, and race from the application.
When personal details are eliminated from the screening stage, what remains is evaluating the candidate for role suitability and culture fit.
There are a number of assessment tools that help you do this based on personality, technical skills, aptitude, and more. These encourage hiring teams to look for fitment rather than any other personal factor while evaluating candidates.
No matter what tools you use, the human factor plays a huge role in hiring. Recruitment practices can only be refined over time when hiring managers are given adequate awareness training to reduce the impact of their biases.
Companies have regarded training as a checkbox requirement far too long. For equity, respect, and inclusion to get woven into the fabric of your company’s hiring culture, these training and sensitization programs cannot be just a one-and-done exercise. It is essential to expose recruiters and hiring teams to the right attitudes and emotional responses in hiring and reinforce these from different directions.
The message that diversity, equity, and inclusion are a non-negotiable part of your core values needs to be repeated through executive messages, HR reminders and refresher sessions until everyone is aligned.
There are a number of workplace culture training organizations that can help you design these; for instance, Emtrain has programs and solutions that help create ‘healthier organizations’ with a strong social fabric rooted in the core competencies of respect and ethics.
Often, the very structure of your hiring process may be contributing to unconscious bias. For example, recruiters operating with unstructured questions in the early screening stages may create an imbalance by treating each candidate differently with a different line of conversation.
One way to eliminate this is to deploy recruitment chatbots that work as digital recruiters, programmed with standardized sets of questions to screen candidates. When the entire recruitment process, from sourcing profiles and screening applicants to conducting interviews, follows a standardized process, every candidate gets a fair and equal platform to demonstrate their abilities.
If you are truly committed to making your recruitment process inclusive, definitely ensure a diverse interview panel. You can go a step ahead by creating two-way communication with the candidate to help your team track the conversations and get feedback about the process.
For example, deploying an AI-powered chatbot to engage with the candidate at different stages of the hiring process is a great way to eliminate human biases. Sending an SMS check-in after a recruiter conversation or an interview can reveal the candidate’s perception of the panel and raise any flags about biases that might have been actively or passively present in the process. These can feed forward into future engagements.
How do you track if your company has actually achieved inclusion? This can happen only if it is formalized as a significant long-term goal for the company, with trackable short-term milestones.
To that end, it is not enough if only the talent team is strategizing policies or setting inclusive recruitment practices. It is not enough to just say that you want to hire a certain number of people from underrepresented groups. It is going to take a structured, company-wide approach to measure and improve diversity, equity, and inclusion, right from hiring throughout the employee’s time in the company.
“A diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.” — Sundar Pichai
Would you like to explore AI-based automation & communication solutions to power your diversity and inclusion program? We can help you turn happy talent into your competitive advantage. Schedule a chat with us to know more.