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February 25th 2021

Allie Wehling

3 ways to rethink hiring and help women recover from the shecession

Diversity & Inclusion, Hiring

Impacts from the global pandemic have rippled through the world of work, amplifying day-to-day struggles and creating entirely new ones. As the pandemic wears on, female-dominated industries like hospitality and retail continue to suffer, and employment rates for women continue to drop. In September 2020, four times as many women dropped out of the workforce compared to men. Experts have dubbed the staggering rate at which women are leaving the workforce as the “shecession.”

At the end of 2020, I was joined by a panel of experts from commercial and public sector organizations to discuss the shecession and provide concrete actions federal agencies can take to mitigate the impacts of COVID in the workplace. The primary takeaway from the discussion was how critical it is that re-hiring campaigns prioritize equity in hiring for marginalized applicants, specifically women, and particularly Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) women. 

Talent acquisition teams have three key, concrete areas where they can change hiring to ensure they find, recruit, and retain the women who have been so drastically affected by the pandemic. 

Opportunity 1: Look beyond the resume

Candidates are more than just the sum of the bullet points on their resumes. Now more than ever, it is critical to evaluate people based on their skills and capabilities, rather than arbitrary indicators like school and previous employer, data points we know are often susceptible to unintentional bias. Recruiters should also be mindful to not penalize resume gaps, which are more likely to occur for women who often act as primary caregivers for children and parents (e.g., sandwich generation). Mobile-friendly, validated pre-hire assessments offer a better candidate experience while accurately measuring a candidate’s job-related competencies. Standardized pre-hire assessments level the playing field for all candidates, which reduces bias and improves fairness. 

Opportunity 2: Provide flexibility in scheduling interviews

Imagine landing your dream interview, only to have a screaming child in the background. With blurred lines between life and work, flexible interview schedules for all candidates, and especially caretakers, becomes all the more important. 60% of the nearly 5 million interviews conducted in 2020 at HireVue were completed outside of “traditional” office hours. And 40% of those were recorded on Sundays. It’s no longer the norm to have interviews take place or be reviewed during the traditional 9-5. A modernized experience with video interviews can eliminate the schedule restraints imposed by face-to-face interviews, and it has the added benefit of protecting talent teams and candidates at a time when vaccine distribution is incomplete.

Opportunity 3: Commit to transparent communication

With millions of people looking for work due to record unemployment rates, there are too many applicants for recruiters to handle individually, much less efficiently. The angst of unknowing whether anyone will review your candidate profile, or if it will just fall into the dreaded black hole can be unbearable - in fact, 73% of people say the job search process is one of the most stressful things in life. Commit to transparent communication with candidates by providing automated chatbot feedback that is instantaneous, rather than waiting for an email. Automated FAQs allow candidates to ask questions at their convenience, without requiring additional effort from overburdened recruitment teams. Text scheduling provides a convenient, consumer-like experience for people who are on the go (e.g., daycare drop off, visiting family in assisted living facilities, doctor appointments, etc).

Talent acquisition teams are uniquely positioned to support women who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic by rethinking their hiring process. Small, intentional steps that re-examine our assumptions about traditional hiring tools like resumes and interviews can have significant and sustainable impacts on society.  

Shecession, Covid, and women in the federal workplace

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