Recruiting leaders know that if their companies aren’t sourcing and hiring for diversity they are missing valuable talent and experience. This is one of the reasons diversity has been a focus area for improvement in recent years.
Many organizations start with training. While diversity training is important for creating awareness, it doesn’t affect human behavior. A 2017 meta-analysis of studies investigating bias training confirmed this. Formal training can reduce unconscious bias, but it does not change behavior.
This has put talent leaders in a difficult position. The way to make real progress on diversity hiring initiatives is by using systematic processes that apply data-driven decision making. With structured interviews and AI, you can overcome unconscious bias and make hiring more equitable for all candidates.
Learn how two companies are putting these approaches into practice today:
The Impact of Unconscious Bias
You can think of unconscious bias as the cognitive equivalent of muscle memory, coming into play when we are faced with gaps in our own personal experience. Due to the human brain’s tendency to create shortcuts, everyone has unconscious biases. The human mind is fantastic at creating connections and grouping things together for easy access.
When faced with unfamiliar or infrequent circumstances, it disproportionately pulls from widely applicable (and misinformed) associations, like stereotypes. Combined with the brain's preference for what is familiar, we can make prejudiced decisions while still consciously believing that prejudice is wrong.
Common Solutions to Bias, and Why They Fall Short
Companies today use a number of different strategies to combat bias and increase diversity, but these solutions often don’t affect meaningful behavior change.
Corporate Diversity Policies
Harvard Business Review research shows that policies like diversity training, performance ratings, and grievance procedures are more likely to reinforce bias in the workplace rather than eliminate it.
Forcing management and employees to adopt diversity policies leaves them feeling less autonomous. In some instances, compulsory diversity training and initiatives have led to backlash and retaliation against minority employees.
Some companies blind resumes, preventing recruiters from seeing ages, names, race, and other inherent traits. It falls short of eliminating other forms of bias, such as towards college education or against employment gaps.
While all companies collect diversity information for the Department of Labor, fewer companies publish or utilize that data. Only 20% of Fortune 500 companies publish portions of their D&I data, and only 3% share their full results. The reason for this is often simple: discussing and revealing diversity metrics may uncover a problem that requires complex solutions.
5 Proven Recruiting Approaches to Increase Diversity in the Workplace
1) Start with Diverse Hiring Teams
Ensure that your interview panels include many diverse viewpoints and people. A balance of interviewers will bring unique experiences to the discussion, and help candidates feel more comfortable. Many organizations now mandate diverse interview panels.
2) Create Inclusive Job Descriptions
This is easy to execute and often overlooked because many companies keep using old job postings. Biased wording sends a subtle message to candidates, and can influence some not to apply.
A 2011 APA study demonstrated that gendered wording has a strong impact on the likelihood of applying to a job. Terms like “rockstar” or “ninja” have masculine connotations and may drive away female applicants. The Catalyst Organization suggests balancing aggressive terms with inclusive terms or replacing them entirely.
Here are 6 pointers to keep in mind:
- Use gender neutral language (they will, they should)
- Begin points with an action verb (distribute, produce, manage, develop)
- Separate minimum prerequisites from preferred prerequisites
- Use clear and simple language, such as “deliver project reports to managers”
- Consider broad demographic appeal when writing benefits
- Assess a posting for inclusive language
Refine job descriptions and qualifiers so only the most relevant are presented to applicants. While men often apply when they meet only 60% of a job’s qualifications, women generally won’t apply unless they meet 100%. Challenge your organization to find out which screening qualifications really matter or how to use flexible requirements instead.
3) Diversity Hiring Sources
Consider a wider variety of hiring sources. Look at where you promote jobs and where applicants are entering your pipeline. While many millennials and members of Gen-Z are engaged with companies on social media, some job seekers still use job boards or learn about positions through word of mouth.
Engage groups that are traditionally underrepresented and find ways to cultivate them. Reach out to minority advocacy groups in your area to connect with candidates and identify career fair opportunities. Check minority centered job boards such as the Professional Diversity Network.
Recruiters using social media should be careful to not become tunnel visioned to a single network. Identify culturally and ethnically diverse platforms and focus on them to develop a diverse candidate pool.
4) Expand Your Talent Pool with Video Interviewing
Studies have established that factors like years of experience, college attendance, and lapses in employment are some of the worst predictors of employee performance. Screening candidates based on skills and attributes instead of these less predictive factors can and will build a more diverse labor pool.
So what does predict success on the job?
Candidates record answers to a structured question set at a time that suits them, and recruiters and hiring managers can review the responses at their convenience. This allows you to consider more candidates since all qualified applicants can take a video interview.
Since all candidates answer the same questions, you create a more objective and fair evaluation process that ensures consistency in hiring decisions. HireVue OnDemand video interviewing empowers you to cast a wider net and evaluate candidates more fairly.
5) Leverage AI to Reduce Bias
Even well-intentioned recruiters and hiring managers have biases. Whether deliberate or not, these unconscious biases play a role in the hiring process 20-40% of the time.
79% of recruiting and hiring managers believe that AI will play a role in their jobs in the future. Artificial intelligence enables people to make better hiring decisions by reducing unconscious and conscious human bias that impacts how they evaluate candidates. AI will never be a full replacement for human creativity and empathy, but it will amplify the recruiter’s ability to focus on the best job fit by surfacing top talent regardless of background.
AI will assist with:
- Sourcing candidates from different platforms like social media or your ATS
- Screening candidates based on objective vs subjective criteria
- Nurturing candidates through the beginning of the hiring pipeline
AI can’t replace:
- Building high quality relationships with candidates
- Managing hiring initiatives such as diversity and inclusion
- Advising hiring managers through the hiring process.
Key Principles for Recruiting a More Diverse Workforce
1. Set Goals
Set diversity goals for hiring teams to analyze the effectiveness of your talent sources. Develop an accountability system for hiring with diversity in mind.
2. Remove Barriers to Underrepresented Groups
Sourcing from nontraditional talent pools and making the hiring process more accessible to underrepresented groups increases the diversity of your hiring pool and empowers more inclusive hiring decisions.
3. Combat Unconscious Bias with Data and Process
Reimagine your recruiting processes and apply data-driven decision making to overcome unconscious bias. Consider video interviewing to expand your talent pools and provide candidates with a more fair, structured interview process. Leverage AI to ensure diverse candidates are not screened out because of unconscious bias.