“Can’t hack it: Tech’s diversity efforts are ‘a failure’.” — CNN
The modern workforce is made of people from diverse backgrounds; we have people from different age groups, nationalities, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, and that’s just the tip of the ice berg.
Over the past few decades, organizations have realized the importance of having a diverse workforce. And, as a result of that awareness, they have amped up their diversity recruitment initiatives, but there's a long way to go still. Even with more focus on diversity-related recruitment practices, firms often fail to achieve their diversity recruitment goals.
This failure could be for a variety of reasons; however, our research suggests that one of the most challenging happens to be sourcing. Firms often question, ‘how do we find diversity prospects? And is the diverse pool large enough to fill our demand?’ Another challenge that firms often face is unbiased assessment. As unconscious bias permeates throughout the selection process, organizations struggle with keeping the assessment process objective for diversity candidates. And, lastly, they often struggle with attracting or winning over the diverse candidates.
If you’re one of those struggling, here’s an all-encompassing, comprehensive, and simple strategy that might help you achieve your diversity recruitment goals:
Revisit your hiring constraints: As Digital Transformation has taken over the world by a storm, a lot of positions are now skill specific rather than being job specific. So, as a recruiter, get in touch with the manager and determine the areas where the caveats can be loosened. They could be in the form of relaxing the kind of degrees required to do a job or lessening the tenure required.
For instance, in comparison to men, women often experience an extended interruption after starting work, so, as an organization, you can lessen the tenure required for women to get more women prospects for a role. There are several pre-employment assessment tools at your disposal that would help you in determining whether they fit the role or not.
Broaden your horizon and approach things unconventionally: STEM happens to be an area where the minority, especially women, continue to get unrepresented. So, as a result, the vacancies for STEM-based roles are also (mostly) filled up by men. However, that isn't to say that women lack those skills, they just acquire them from different areas. So, identifying non-traditional backgrounds would be a good place to start.
Jobs like user design, data technology, marketing operations, network administration, for example, traditionally fall under the purview of IT. However, it has been proven that these roles don’t necessarily require the typical four-year degree. With the increased importance of skill-based learning, these roles have opened up for more people. Organizations could tap into this to fulfil their diversity recruitment goals; they can also make use of skill assessment testing as a measure of identifying which candidates suit the role the best.
Remove identifiers that add bias to your skill assessment practices: Certain irrelevant, and often irking, factors often find themselves in the recruitment forms. These factors include, but are not limited to, age, ethnicity, gender, physical traits, home address, etc. For instance, in the US, there are certain neighbourhoods that are predominantly African American while there are areas that are largely Caucasian; on an average, people from largely Caucasian areas are likely to get more call-backs as the area itself hints the ethnicity, education, and higher income average. Removing these identifiers would help you stay unbiased during the screening and assessment process.
Collaborate with your assessment tool provider(s): Another way to reduce bias during the skill assessment period is ensuring your assessments don’t, wittingly or unwittingly, hinder the process. Remove any bias-inducing factors from your tests and ensure the hiring manager doesn’t receive that information. As we have previously established, unconscious bias is hard to look over, so if that information is not present to the manager in charge of the role, there would be lesser chances of bias.
To ensure this, some of the questions you should be asking your assessment tool providers are:
- How much can you customize the tool?
- What quantitative measures have you taken to ensure less bias during the assessment?
- Would the question bank, or the tool itself, be demeaning or questionable to any group or community?
Introduce diversity in hiring and onboarding practices: It has proven to be true that diverse candidates prefer firms where an already diverse workforce exists. So, focus on your employer branding efforts and make sure your prospective clients know that it is a safe space to work.
Moreover, understand your candidates’ Employer Value Propositions (EVPs), ensure a positive onboarding process, and determine ways to introduce new talent to ongoing diversity and inclusiveness efforts.
Diversity and inclusiveness in workspace is an ongoing conversation, and a simple diagnosis of your organization would tell you the area(s) where you need to focus as far as diversity is concerned. It may be unrealistic to expect all your measures to work; there also isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to diversity. What organizations should strive to do is ensure each candidate gets an unbiased hiring process, and these steps are just a way to start in the direction of diversity.