Candidates: Are you interviewing and need support?
Work discrimination and implicit bias.
The issue is not new. We’re just no longer ignoring it.
Recently, we’ve seen a heightened awareness of long-existing inequities within the workplace—mostly due to social unrest and shockingly unjust stories that have come to light over the last few years.
This increased attention forced many employers to sharpen their lens on their own businesses and address their lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
What’s come out of this is a definitive consensus: DEI in the workplace is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have. Leaders across the board pledged to do better, to advance DEI in the workplace, and to dismantle centuries of office discrimination.
And while this is certainly a start, progress is slow and many of the systemic issues remain the same.
One such issue is gender inequality. Even after research has proved that most women in C-Suite positions are more profitable, those who hold higher positions are overwhelmingly white men.
It’s not that leaders don’t understand the critical importance of workplace DEI. They do. Yet, when it comes to infiltrating diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout their business, they seem to struggle.
So where should they start?
We’d suggest that organizations create DEI by design, not default. This means putting systems in place and using tools as a powerful catalyst for change. Here are four ways to maximize your DEI efforts.
How do leaders stop paying lip service to DEI and begin taking action? It starts by addressing long-time hiring strategies that favor certain groups over others. Strategies like singling out candidates with years of experience or higher education when those qualities are not needed for the job.
So, if an elaborate resume isn’t a great predictor of job success, what is?
It might seem obvious that hiring leaders should look at the skills needed to do the job. However, leaders have historically emphasized poor indicators of success (like education) over the ability to do the job well.
And no, skills-based hiring does not invalidate degrees. Instead, it recognizes that some people can acquire in-demand skills in non-traditional ways. This shift in job requirements is critical for marginalized groups.
Beyond hard skills, employers must start considering candidates’ soft skills, such as willingness to learn, adaptability, problem-solving, or initiative. Qualities a resume won’t reflect.
In HireVue’s Equity Research Report, we found that most HR professionals agree that soft skills should trump degree requirements. Yet, only 29% of them have adopted a skills-first approach to hiring.
So how do HR professionals jumpstart their skills-based hiring?
Assessment software focuses on exactly this. It gives hiring teams insights into candidate skills and potential through game-based, interview-based, and coding assessments. This tool identifies the skills employers need for the job—then prioritizes candidates with skills and potential that align with the job requirements.
And hiring teams no longer need to rely on subjective opinions to choose the right fit for the job. Because candidates are being evaluated on skills—not accomplishments or pizazz—everyone, from all walks of life, has a fair and equal chance.
The term “cast a wider net” is a popular term in recruiting.
It’s a fishing analogy describing fishers’ plight when they cast their net in one, secluded spot and reel in the same fish, every single time. To expand their variety, they must be willing to widen their net.
The same can be said for recruiting. When recruiters reach out to the same people every time, they’re trapped by their own limitations and will never expand their diversity.
You may be surprised at the audience your recruitment efforts are reaching. Think about your job description language. Does it include language that will attract minorities, such as single parents or people of color? What about people with disabilities? Do you have accommodations in place—and are you advertising those accommodations?
What geographical locations are you advertising to? If your job description only shows up in middle-class, suburban areas, don’t be surprised when you attract candidates with the same experiences, opinions, and way of life.
A few years ago, Goldman Sachs decided to broaden their recruitment efforts. Increased competition from Silicon Valley forced them to look beyond Ivy League recruitment and welcome candidates from other, less secluded schools. By using video interviewing to expand their reach, they saw a 20% increase in interviews.
Video interviews are a powerful way to reach a wider range of talent. They remove time and location barriers and allow HR teams to expand their reach beyond their own zip code. This on-demand experience gives every candidate the exact same questions so decisions are based solely on job competency and nothing else.
Even when leaders believe they’re free of discrimination, often they’re not.
This can be a hard pill to swallow, but it’s helpful to think of unconscious bias as exactly that—unconscious. While intentions are usually good, we’re still human. And it can be easy to be naturally swayed toward a candidate who has similar interests.
The solution for unconscious bias is fairly simple. Structure your interviews.
It’s easy to let subjective opinions seep into a decision when interviews lack any real structure. However, when candidates are compared on the exact same criteria, you reduce the wiggle room where bias tends to seep in.
Additionally, structured interviews are much better at predicting job competency over human opinions.
Structured interview tools allow hiring leaders to assess candidates the same way, every time. Instead of creating their own interview questions, which may unintentionally permit bias, hiring leaders can choose from a list of optimized questions that directly relate to the job competencies.
Then, they can assess candidates consistently using evaluation guides that are built into the interview experience. With structured interviews, candidates experience a faster, fairer outcome.
Your DEI strategy doesn’t stop once candidates are in the door. Sure, hiring for diversity matters. But if you can’t sustain an equitable and inclusive workforce where everyone feels like they belong, your DEI initiatives are futile.
So how can you translate your DEI hiring into DEI retention?
A good starting place is to look at your internal mobility opportunities. Do all employees have fair and equal opportunities to progress within the walls of your organization?
Unfortunately, many do not. Performance and promotion have traditionally been another gateway for subjective, empirical views, leaving marginalized groups overlooked.
A McKinsey survey shows that 84% of black frontline workers want to be promoted, yet only 62% feel there’s an opportunity to advance. And when they are promoted, they feel less supported than their peers.
We found the same issue in our Equity Research Report. Only 55% of employees say they feel supported in their career growth, while 41% say discrimination has directly impacted their career progression. And it’s a lack of career progression that is causing people to leave their jobs—one study showing that 40% left between 2021 and 2022.
Giving all employees the same opportunities to advance in their jobs lets them stay relevant and grow within the walls of your organization—not somewhere else.
Just like skills assessments can be used to identify the best candidate for the job, they can also be leveraged for internal progression. Skills assessments measure employee capabilities, helping determine which role or position would best suit their strengths.
And if an employee wants to advance but isn’t quite ready, skills assessments can show leaders where employees may need more training and development.
Instead of making promotion decisions based purely on opinion, skills assessments give fair and equal chances to every employee.
DEI is business imperative. But simply believing DEI is important won’t change a thing. Organizations must create actionable, structured steps towards a fully diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce—all while holding leaders accountable.
And while DEI can’t be fixed with a few hiring tools, it’s a big step in the right direction.