Sapia (Previously PredictiveHire) has won Best Innovation in Algorithmic Bias Mitigation for Fair AI in Recruitment (FAIR™). CogX is the world’s largest celebration of Ai and emerging technology. This is the second time we have been honoured at these awards shortlisted last year for Best Conversational Ai Solution for HR.
The big question of this year’s CogX awards “How do we get the next 10 years right?” couldn’t be more important to us. We want to give everyone a fair go when it comes to getting a job. It has the potential to have so much impact in addressing bias and structural inequality in the world. We know because we’ve seen it. We’ve helped some of the world’s most trusted consumer brands achieve their DE&I metrics by giving all applicants a fair go.
We know Ai tools can seem confronting in concept. Ai has an incredible ability to provide reliability and comfort that outcomes are fair, but if not implemented and used correctly, it can compound bias. Because Ai technology is outstripping regulation in most countries, poor algorithmic hygiene can easily creep in.
We believe that our platform is the world’s most inclusive talent solution and we’re proud to be leading the way on the ethical use of Ai for hiring. We want to empower leaders considering Ai for hiring by giving them the right questions to ask vendors, and we want to get developers talking about bias mitigation best practices.
This year we made FAIR™, our framework for the ethical use of Ai in hiring, available on the public domain. Our framework presents a set of measures and guidelines to implement and maintain fairness in Ai-based candidate selection tools. It is a data-driven approach to fairness. It was a bold move, but CogX liked it.
FAIR™ was created by our team of incredibly dedicated data scientists, led by the incredibly humble Buddhi Jayatilleke our Chief Data Scientist. Our team have tested and re-tested and experimented and re-experimented to find a new formula for assessing talent–one that is 100% inclusive and bias-free.
The winners of the CogX Awards were announced during CogX 2021 in London, June 14-16, 2021.
I think back to my days as a recruiter, you filled jobs by posting adverts. That was 15 years ago. The saying was: “Post and pray” because you never knew what would come back.
The average time to fill a role, as we advised the business, was 30 days.
Even then, there was flexibility on that because of the ‘war on talent’. It was hard to find people. Skilled people. The ‘right’ talent. When we needed to find talent fast than from time-to-time, we would engage a 3rd party recruiting agency to help us. However, that was costly.
So, even with the proper sourcing tools in hand – the business just needed to wait. Here were the reasons that recruiters gave for not delivering quickly:
Reasons, and perhaps excuses. And the business just had to wait.
According to a Job Vite – time to fill remains anywhere between 25 (retail) or 48 (hospitality) days (when I read this, I nearly fell off my chair!). This is surprising since technology has come such a long way since then.
Why are hiring managers waiting this long for these high-volume skills? And the wait will undoubtedly be increased due to the volumes of applications – thanks to C-19. What is the cost associated with waiting? A straightforward formula I found published by Hudson (for non-revenue generating employees) is:
(Total Company Annual Revenue) ÷ (Number of Employees) ÷ 365 = Daily Lost Revenue
Here’s a working example. Let’s take a retailer. They generate 2.9 billion in revenues and have 11,000 employees. This means that their daily lost revenue PER vacant position is $722.
I’ve observed talent teams who recruit in high volume scenarios; spending hours screening thousands of CV’s – with inherent bias’s creeping in by the 13th CV. Then fatigue sets in. And by the 135th CV, unconscious biases have turned into bold conscious judgements;
Keeping your process consistent and fair is a challenge and the quality of the screening process diminishes.
Then there is the phone screen. If you only took 30 into this stage and spoke to them for 10 minutes each, then it will take the recruiter five hours.
And time is not concentrated nor time-bound to one session – it elapses. You aren’t sitting for 1.6 hours at a time nor can you schedule back-to-back phone screens, so the realistic time frame for this is about a week.
From there, it’s coordinating Hiring Manager interviews, conducting their interviews, getting feedback, making decisions, giving offers, taking reference checks and finalising compliance steps to make the hire. This is where it ends up being a long and drawn-out process.
Plus they can drive a far better process. How? By getting a trustworthy understanding of the candidate and their personality modelled against the organisations’ success DNA (the “Success DNA” is the profile of what success looks like in your organisation).
When candidates apply their first step is an automated interview.
It takes 15-20 minutes to complete, and all candidates receive a personality assessment based on what they wrote (which they love).
Personality can be deduced from the text that candidates write (scientifically proven) and then there is also the feedback from thousands of candidates talking to the accuracy of these personality assessments.
Here’s a tiny sample of all the feedback >>
For Talent Acquisition to build its credibility in the business, it needs to demonstrate its impact on the bottom line and provide tangible solutions to address this need for speed. Tools like Sapia can help with solving for these speed and cost challenges, and the benefits of providing a consistent, bias-free candidate experience are just the icing on the cake.
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A few weeks ago, I confessed my imposter syndrome on social media. That I was, and still am, the least likely candidate to run an Ai tech company. I am a former CHRO, I am female, I am neither an engineer nor a data scientist. I also have no sales experience, and yet I find myself spending 80% of my time in sales (although we don’t call it that of course).
When I was Head of HR at BCG back in the noughties, the firm was going through a growth period. Due to the way teams were sold into engagements, having senior people who could execute on complex change programs in areas that were quite new to the firm (digital, etc), meant looking externally for ‘lateral’ hires.
These were people who could be trusted to uphold and amplify the firm’s strong values and bring much-needed expertise by virtue of their seniority and transferable skills. It was hard.
‘Organ rejection’ is a term I learned in my next gig, as CHRO at the then-largest digital company in Australia, the REA Group. Organ rejection is what happens when a lateral hire fails miserably – for both parties.
So, here I am 2.5 years into my current role. The one I feel professionally ill-qualified for when I realize I’m a lateral hire. But despite my self-doubt, there hasn’t been any ‘organ rejection’.
When I reflect on my life and the things that mean I might (there’s that imposter syndrome again) make a great CEO, I realize that so much of what I bring to this job is what I experienced outside of education. Born out of a need to be resilient from a young age, and a bit of serendipity.
In 1980, when I was 10, my family immigrated from Zimbabwe to Perth, Australia. We arrived, a family of six, with little else than each other. Anyone who’s done it knows the uncertainty of immigration. Most of us do it to risk a better life knowing very little beyond what is a glossy brochure-like version of the new land we are sailing to. It wasn’t as easy as we had been sold, but we survived and adapted to our new home country.
At 18, I moved to Melbourne from Perth to study my undergrad. Not because I wanted to make a bold move again, but because I wanted to get as far away as possible from my stepmother. My mother had tragically died at a very young age a few years after we immigrated and my dad remarried within 10 months.
I took law as my undergrad because a friend a year ahead of me was doing it and she seemed to like it. I then took a wild punt on doing an MBA and managed to get a full scholarship. Which meant I could take my time to figure out what exactly I would do with an MBA.
Fast forward three kids, and a divorce in the middle. I decided I needed to be in a creative environment. So I took an executive role in the arts knowing nothing about the two areas I was responsible for nor the sector.
I accepted an opportunity to be Deputy Chair on a board because someone believed in me. Not because I had a grand plan to build a portfolio career. I’ve never planned my life really, but I have often taken a punt. After all, I found my home by knocking on the front door because I just loved the look of it from the outside and thought ‘what the heck?”
I landed in this job because a close friend recommended me. I found the whole idea of figuring out how you find the best lateral talent so fascinating – without realizing until right now, I was a good example of just that.
I’d say that very little of my formal qualifications and work experience has really equipped me for the rough and tumble of being the CEO of a startup. The sheer unknown of building a new product in an emerging market, and the stress of checking the bank balance daily to make sure we can make this month’s payroll.
Most of what got me here came from the lessons I learned away from the workplace. From immigrating, losing a parent when I was young, leaving a city that I knew well on my own, learning to follow my whims, take chances, and constantly look for meaning.
None of that makes it onto my CV.
My mission is to make those things matter the most when it comes to finding the right people for the right job. I’m also making peace with my imposter syndrome by accepting that it’s the different perspective that I bring to the table that makes my contribution so unique.
I’d go so far as to say we should all hire “industry imposters” if we can. And I’m here to help you find them.
Barbara Hyman, 03/08/2020
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If a new customer entered your store and was keen on buying something, you would never dream of ignoring them.
Even if they’re just browsing, you would not let them leave without trying to make a good impression on them. You’d try and win them over for next time they are looking to buy. You’d respect and thank them for thinking about you, and share knowledge with them about products you have, so that they leave better informed consumers. Maybe they’ll remember you the next time they have a purchase to make.
This same philosophy needs to apply to candidates who apply for jobs at your organisation.
Yet, everyday we don’t … and it’s damaging. It’s damaging to both brands and to the people who apply to them.
You need to treat your candidates as you do your customers. You need to treat them with respect, give them an interview experience that makes them feel comfortable, familiar and convenient, is fast, and dignifies the effort they have made in applying. Go further and give them feedback and insights about their strengths and weaknesses that they can use when looking at other jobs, it’s likely they will think of you in the future, and recommend you to their friends.
As Michael Eizenberg, Head of Qantas Group Talent, Digital & Analytics told us: “We care deeply about two things when it comes to hiring. Firstly, diversity and inclusivity, and secondly the experience of everyone who comes into contact with the Qantas brand. Our goal is to treat every candidate like we would a customer.”
Qantas metrics prove the value of treating candidates as customers.
The idea of creating positive candidate experiences is not new, but the global talent shortage has empowered candidates in a way that companies are no longer the ones wielding the power.
You’re not doing the choosing. Candidates are. They are assessing you at every step of the way in a recruitment process.
We need to treat candidates not just as ‘prospective employees’, but put on the best show as “prospective employers”. We need to roll out the red carpet and listen to their needs – from the first moment they interact with us.
We’ve heard about the great resignation across the globe as people have reassessed their lives and decided they want more from their job than just a steady paycheck.
People looking for jobs not only have more choices, but they also possess more information about companies thanks to technology like Glassdoor. They will likely do research on your company before they apply.
Much like shopping has changed the way people buy things, making online comparisons and reading reviews, the internet has created a similar opportunity for job seekers who are looking for the best place to work.
Organisations need to not only consciously articulate and promote the value they offer and why people should consider working for them – they actually have to prove it through their recruitment process.
The candidate is a consumer of your “product’ (your workplace and everything you stand for), or at least you need to think of them as one.
This means making people feel valued by your company even before they work there.
You can read how Qantas’ approach to treat candidates as customers has improved the quality and retention on their candidates here.