Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) has been a top priority for many businesses for years, with public declarations about improved training and process changes. Now, the pressure is mounting for the same vocal companies to show proof of progress.
Talent leaders have set lofty diversity goals, and while our research found that many businesses have made some progress – 93% feel comfortable accommodating neurodiverse candidates – there’s still significant room for improvement.
The fact is, many organisations are struggling to meet the targets they set themselves. PwC’s recent findings on the gender pay gap are a striking example of this sluggish pace: the average pay gap has fallen just 0.5% since 2017.
Building equitable and inclusive processes is the moral thing to do for any business leader, but it has never been more important to have effective DE&I strategies in place to entice new talent and retain employees in an increasingly competitive market. Employees want to be a part of organisations where everyone is welcomed and valued.
To implement effective DE&I hiring strategies, recruiters and hiring leaders must look beyond traditional, standardised recruitment processes – such as CVs or face-to-face interviews. This means being open-minded and embracing new technologies that can make workplaces fairer for all.
Skills over first impressions
It is estimated that 30% of interviewers make their decision about an interviewee within the first five minutes of the interview. The hiring process is full of first impressions: from the first time a recruiter sees a CV to a candidate’s final interview with a hiring manager.
However, first impressions rarely take into account a candidate’s actual skills. In a recent study of 2000 adults, 65% said they feel frustrated when they don’t use their skills at work. This sentiment was glaringly evident during the pandemic when many people left their jobs to start working for themselves.
A focus on skills-based hiring widens an employer’s talent pool and increases the quality of that pool by retaining the most motivated employees. They can be hard skills, such as coding or writing, or soft skills, like dependability, communication, and problem-solving. What matters most is that candidates are evaluated on their skills during the hiring process, rather than being judged on their alma mater or lack thereof.
Less talk and more walk
Having diverse workforces can increase revenue – research suggests that more ethnically and culturally diverse businesses are as much as 36% more profitable than the least diverse companies. Done well, DE&I influences innovation, productivity, and employee retention. It’s the best way to recognise and celebrate the unique contribution of each individual.
The case for DE&I as a business issue can always be made, but addressing the issue needs to be more than optics – it’s simply the right thing to do.
Embracing new technologies – like Artificial Intelligence (AI) – has the power to make recruitment fairer for candidates while also giving recruiters and hiring leaders back valuable time to focus on high-touch interactions.
Instead of relying on outdated CV reviews that fail to predict job success, employers should focus on a candidate’s potential rather than their past. AI-backed assessments that can be completed in the candidates’ own time allow talent leaders to assess the critical competencies of specific roles. This means that all candidates go through the same experience and are evaluated in the same way, minimising the implicit biases that run rampant in traditional interviews. Furthermore, the constant flow of data makes it very straightforward to audit these assessments in a way that is not possible with human decision-making.
Yet, despite all the benefits that come with AI, many recruiters and hiring leaders are still hesitant to use it. Some argue that it lacks accuracy and reliability. Others say it takes away that human element. This is not true. As with many processes, it is important to automate tasks that lend themselves to automation while letting humans focus on where they can bring unique value. AI does not mean replacing humans. It should be used to improve and enhance human decision-making in the hiring process.
While humans do add value to the decision-making process, they are often a source of bias. It’s incredibly important for recruiters and hiring leaders to have an objective evaluation of each candidate that they can check their “first impression” and “gut feeling” against. Properly vetted, AI can be that objective decision support, providing crucial insight so humans can make better, less biased hiring decisions.
The missing piece of the puzzle
DE&I is a crucial ingredient for creating a workplace culture of leadership and healthy employee engagement – there is power in embracing different beliefs, ideas, and experiences.
Seeing tangible results has to start with getting recruitment right, ensuring that processes are fair and equal, and recognising what everyone has to offer right from the get-go. And one of the easiest ways to do this is for recruiters and hiring leaders to ditch traditional recruitment processes and opt for innovative technologies to build workplace cultures of belonging.
By Lindsey Zuloaga, Chief Data Scientist at HireVue.