How to Support Diversity in Your Hiring Process
This article on diversity hiring was originally published in October 2017 and updated with new information in February 2022.
We’ve discussed many topics relating to diversity, including the importance of diversity in the workplace, technology in diversity recruiting, statistics to be aware of, and our own commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at ClearCompany. But what about increasing diversity in your hiring processes as they exist today?
Today’s candidates are making it clear that a diverse workforce is a top priority, with 76% saying it’s an important factor when considering job offers. This means considering diversity, equity, and inclusion not only in your employer brand, which gives candidates their first impression of your company but throughout the application and hiring process as well.
Here are some ways to support increased diversity in your company’s hiring process.
Audit Your Employer Brand
First, understand what your brand looks like from an outside perspective. Most likely, employer branding is something that you already monitor and refine to reflect your company’s values. But don’t skip this step — you want to be sure your employer brand is not alienating any potential candidates.
Here are a few pointers for evaluating whether or not your employer brand demonstrates your commitment to DEI:
- Website and Careers Page
Your website should make it clear that DE is a priority for your company. If, like many companies, it’s a core value at your organization, go into more detail on your company’s About page. Ensure representation in the photos and verbiage used across your website.
- Job Descriptions
Speaking of inclusive verbiage, double-check your job postings to make sure they are not using excessively gendered language. If using pronouns, do not use exclusively she/her or he/him pronouns. Use they/them as a singular pronoun wherever possible, or alternate use of feminine, masculine, and gender-neutral pronouns. Notice any gender-coded words, like ‘dominant’ or ‘competitive,’ which are male-coded and may deter applicants.
- Social Media
Just like your website, social media also needs to reflect your company as well as represent your audience accordingly. Remember, you are trying to attract individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds. Create a way for potential applicants to easily picture themselves within the company and the position at hand by providing a glimpse inside the lives of your current employees.
Now, you could be looking through your processes and thinking there’s no need for improvement. But, the truth is that only one-quarter of employees believed their company had made any progress with DEI measures last year. That’s why it’s so important to evaluate your company honestly and constantly look for ways to support diversity, equity, and inclusion. No matter how polished you feel your system is, there is always room for improvement.
Talk About Bias
Harvard Business Review recently conducted a study to evaluate bias in hiring at large firms, including several with active DEI initiatives. Researchers discovered what they call “a new type of discrimination” revealed by a question in which employers asked to rate the likelihood that a candidate would accept a job offer. This rating mattered, said HBR, “because employers are unlikely to invest time and energy interviewing and recruiting candidates who are unlikely to join their organization.”
No matter the industry, employers said that minority and women candidates would be less likely to accept job offers. In addition, the study also shows evidence of many other unconscious biases in recruiting. It’s critical to train all of your employees about bias and how to recognize it to support diversity in the hiring process. Your recruiters and hiring teams must also be trained on how to reduce the influence of biases on hiring decisions.
Here are some biases to watch out for when evaluating candidates:
- Affinity bias
It’s illegal to discriminate against candidates based on their race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity), national origin, age, disability, or genetic information (including family medical history). Unfortunately, we’re susceptible to affinity bias, meaning we tend to favor people who have things in common with us — and that bias extends from sharing an alma mater or hometown to skin color or gender. Affinity bias often appears as “culture fit” when describing candidates.
- Confirmation bias
Confirmation bias happens when an interviewer asks questions that support their first impression of a candidate, rather than asking a well-rounded set of questions. Avoid confirmation bias with a structured interview process where candidates are asked the same set of questions.
- Affect heuristic
Affect heuristic refers to our tendency to rely on emotions when making decisions. Feeling down or upset may lead to an interviewer more harshly judging a candidate’s experience or rating their interview negatively. It’s important to be aware of how emotional states can affect decision-making to ensure hiring decisions aren’t impacted.
Evaluate Every Step of the Hiring Process
Now that you can better recognize bias, it’s vital to evaluate your application, candidate screening, and interview processes to keep bias out of the overall hiring process. Let’s look at a few tips to ensure that you have a fair process for assessing candidates from every background.
- Candidate Screening
Use an intelligent recruiting system like an applicant tracking system to find qualified applicants based only on if they meet job requirements. From there, you can set standard screening questions for all candidates applying for a role. Many ATSs also allow for blind screening, where the candidate’s name and other personal information are obscured to help reduce bias.
For roles that require assessments, ensure that every candidate takes the same tests. Assessments should focus on the exact skills needed for the job. These should also be evaluated blind so that candidates are judged solely on their skill levels. Anonymous skills tests help make it clear whose skills match the role best without bringing in personal attributes.
Why should you establish diverse hiring teams?
When Intel began requiring at least two employees who were women or from an underrepresented group on interview panels, new hires who were women or people of color jumped from 31% to 45%.
Just like with screening, create a structured interview process with standardized questions for each role so interviewers cover the same ground with each candidate. Establishing diverse hiring teams is a must, too. Technology giant Intel began requiring at least two employees who were women or from an underrepresented group on interview panels. As a result, the number of new hires who were women or people of color jumped from 31% to 45 percent.
If you use an ATS, you can dive into your hiring analytics for a real look at the diversity of your new hires. This can help inform recruiting strategies and set achievable hiring goals to ensure your company actually does increase representation. It also allows you to tangibly see the effects of updating hiring processes to be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
As you strengthen your company’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, continue refining your hiring process to keep bias out of it. Frequently check in with candidates, new hires, and longtime employees to gauge how they feel about DEI initiatives. Don’t just set and forget — reassess hiring processes often.
This article was originally published on the ClearCompany blog by Sylvie Woolf.