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5 things leaders wish they knew before recruiting

As a leader, you have probably heard all the excuses why your organisation is not hiring more {insert under-represented group}: “There simply aren’t enough female candidates out there in engineering”, “we don't get many people of colour applying for jobs”, “we really would hire them if we could find them” “I only got one CV of woman out of 100 CVs!”, etc... In a recent Linkedin Gender Insights Report, a survey found that recruiters open men’s profiles more frequently and when looking at female and male candidates on LinkedIn, recruiters are 13% less likely to click on a woman’s profile when she shows up in search and 3% less likely to send a woman an InMail after viewing her profile. Some recruiters might say “there is a higher bar in engineering roles”; the issue about ‘lowering the bar’ stands from a biased belief that a company/profession (engineering or Technology) has a high bar and the reason it hasn’t hired more women or diverse people is that these women and diverse groups aren’t able to meet that bar, in fact, in many cases, it’s the opposite. Here are a few tips that you should spend some time focusing on to create more inclusive recruiting!

1) Create an excellent career website (one that is better than your competitor!)

Your organisation’s career website is one of the first places a candidate will visit. Make sure this webpage is welcoming to people from marginalised groups. Use diverse images and inclusive language throughout. Feature diverse employees who are thriving at your organisation; if you offer Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), be loud and proud about them on your website. Highlight all your social good initiatives including any partnership with a non-profit or with a charity for example, as this attracts people from marginalised groups. Review the language that is used to emphasize all employee benefits on your career’s webpage. Feature parental and family benefits, mental health support, disability support, flexible working, childcare support etc…. These employee benefits are especially important to women who are the primary caregivers in our society.

2) Craft equitable job descriptions

Considering that society is not a level playing field where everyone has a fair and equal chance of succeeding, it is your responsibility to create equitable job descriptions. Your job descriptions should appeal to a wider range of diverse candidates, not just to your stereotypical engineer, technician, etc… First off, make sure that the criteria listed are necessary for doing this job well. Most people add job description requirements that are stereotypical to the job, without asking themselves whether it is critical to do the job; often, implicit bias makes us add job requirements that are, indeed, not necessary. Ask yourself if any of these job criteria reflect typical assumptions about the kind of person you think usually does this job and if they reflect subtle biases about who traditionally does this job. Make sure that the language in the job description does not subtly reflect gender or racial stereotypes/preferences. Phrases such as “high-powered”, “results-driven”, ”action-oriented” are gendered and should be replaced with gender-neutral ones. Tools such as Textio can help remove bias from your job ad description. Finally, make sure that you include and value criteria such as “ability to work on diverse teams or with a diverse range of people”.

3) Change your CV selection mindset

As you select CVs, ask yourself if you are accounting for important life experiences that may not show up on traditional CVs, but that can indicate likelihood for success in the job. For instance, before you write off a CV with a gap year, dig deeper and ask yourself: what did that gap year bring to the candidate’s wealth of knowledge, skills, that could be helpful for this role? If a mother took one year off work to raise her family, what skills can she transfer to her role, including patience, resilience, perseverance, discipline etc... Look beyond gaps and university degrees and look for value add. Follow diversity and inclusion experts to learn more tips on changing your CV selection mindset.

4) Structure your interviews and stick to the process

Most interviews are unstructured, unplanned and improvised. However, implicit bias plays a big role at the interview stage and can indeed significantly reduce any chance of hiring diverse candidates. Make a plan to remove bias from the interview process. Ask all interviewers to ask the same questions, in the same order to all candidates, as much as possible, Make sure that each interviewer ranks candidates on the same scale and shares their ranking in the central system without speaking with each other about the candidate to avoid influencing each other. Follow the same process for each candidate, the same ranking system, the same order of questions. This interview structure will significantly remove implicit bias including gender bias, age bias, name bias, confirmation bias, halo effect etc… Find out about unconscious bias in hiring here.

5) Make job offers without bias

Managers often end up with two candidates at the final stage of the interview process and they struggle to decide which to choose. I always recommend that you choose the most diverse candidate to have a more diverse team. With the knowledge that society is not a level playing field for women, people of colour, LGBT+, disabled individuals, etc... when you have the choice between two candidates, you should select the one whose group is under-represented in the workplace to demonstrate your commitment to a more diverse and inclusive workplace and society. If you are truly dedicated to creating a more inclusive workforce, you should select the candidate who brings a new perspective. As you onboard new hires, consider that some diverse candidates may think that you hired them solely because you wanted a more diverse workforce, not because they were perfectly suited for the role. They might also think that their co-workers think that the bar was lowered for that same reason. Remember to explain to the new hire and to your entire team that you hired them because of their skills and expertise and remind everyone that often to set the tone. Watch how other leaders prioritise diversity and inclusion in their business strategy here.

Needless to say, there are plenty more areas you may want to look into when it comes to diverse and inclusive hiring. However, focusing on the above steps will really help you to ensure your recruitment strategy is off to a great start and has everything it needs to create an inclusive and diverse workplace!

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