No amount of surveys will change your culture

Just as no amount of diversity training will give you people who are less biased.

As a company, you are unlikely to move the needle much on engagement or performance if you are hiring the wrong people.

The only way to change culture fast is through your people decisions – who you hire and promote.

Our Principal Data Scientist knows this from analysing data at his old employer Culture Amp for three years – it’s often the same companies in the top and the bottom on engagement year after year.

This is why highly engaged companies remain engaged as they hire like-minded people. It’s a virtuous cycle.

Build trust through inclusiveness and transparency

Transparency and inclusiveness builds trust. We know that from our own relationships and it applies equally in the workplace. Healthy cultures thrive on people feeling heard and leaders being transparent on what’s going on in the business.

Making unbiased hiring decisions

The greatest algorithm on earth is the one inside of our skull, but it is heavily biased. Most decisions related to people are heavily flavoured by emotion, aka bias. Biases are difficult for humans to remove even when we are conscious of them. We need technology to help us – to de-risk the bias and change mindsets.

Are these connected themes or unrelated?
Here’s our formula for the Right Culture: (Inclusiveness + Transparency) – Bias = Trust

What do you think? We invite you to join the conversation on LinkedIn.


How the contrast principle is messing with your job interviews

In his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, author Bob Cialdini explains how the contrast principle can unfairly distort our perceptions of quality and value. By comparing a really good thing to something that is just okay, we tend to judge the latter as far worse than it is. It works the other way, too: when presented with a host of bad options, the best of the bunch – the lesser of all the evils – looks disproportionately attractive.

Cialdini gives us myriad examples: Realtors who show you a couple of dingy properties to make the target property look better, and retail salespeople who suggest a really expensive coat to get you to settle for the cheaper belt. The principle also turned a series of bad management decisions into the Watergate incident, if you can believe that.

It doesn’t stop there, however. The contrast principle is a natural and inextricable part of the traditional face-to-face interview.

Comparing the gregarious extravert with the soft-talking introvert

Janie is bright, exuberant, and chatty. The interview starts strongly. She strides proudly into your office, hand outstretched, smiling warmly. Her clothes are fashionable. Her resume is colourful and well-designed. You like her right away, as does everyone, because she’s a ray of sunshine. She probably plays the harp and makes her own muesli.

The interview goes well. Janie knows what to say, and because she is extraverted, she knows how to deftly circumvent tricky technical questions. There’s a slight concern in the back of your mind that she is not sufficiently experienced, but you figure that her outgoing, can-do attitude will more than make up for that (and you might be right).

Alice is your next appointment. She’s a lot quieter than Janie. She speaks a lot less, too. Her smile is genuine, and she is perfectly well spoken, but Alice is clearly nervous. Her manner is cautious, full of apprehension. 

You notice that her resume is excellent. Ticks all the right boxes. She’s a veteran in the field. But there’s something amiss: She’s just not like Janie. As a result, you’re probably not going to call her back for a second interview.

This is one of the most common ways the contrast principle plays out: If the second candidate does not match the energy of the first, if her presence does not illicit the same rise in dopamine, then we are likely to favour the first candidate. Objectivity quickly goes out the window.

Here are some other examples of how the contrast principle affects hiring

  • We are more likely to hire people who look, sound, or think like us. So, resultantly, we might rank a candidate higher than they deserve in comparison to others.
  • We spend so long looking for a candidate to fill a role that we lower our standards over time, and give later candidates more leeway than we do earlier ones.
  • Multiple candidate rejections may lead hiring managers to relent and accept a less-than-perfect candidate. This is an example of the contrast principle and  the reciprocity rule working together (that is, multiple rejections make the hiring manager more likely to concede and accept a lesser decision, in order to appear more cooperative to those doing the talent hunting).

How to remove the contrast principle from your hiring process

There are many suggestions out there for mitigating or removing the contrast principle, but the truth is this: If humans do your face-to-face interviews, you cannot prevent the potential for contrast bias. Even conducting what’s called a ‘blind resume review’ will not help. Yes, you can assess resumes stripped of identifying characteristics, like race or gender, but you cannot account for the fact that the details themselves are easily doctored and falsified. Don’t forget that 78% of people lie.

The bottom line is this: You need a blind, non-human smart interviewer to do your first-round interviewing for you. It’s the only way to be free of biases, compromise hires, and the intractable likeability factor. We can help with that.

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Why Your Lack of Diversity is Affecting your Bottom Line

Organisational diversity is still an issue, and the cost is real.

You would think in this day and age organisational diversity would be a moot point. With global social reforms across gender, sexuality, disability and race equality, one could believe the challenge of diversity has been overcome.

Sadly, this is not the case. Some fu(cked) facts:

  • In 2018, unemployment of ethnic minority groups in the United States made up 44.9% of total unemployment.The worst-off being Black or African American, despite the fact they represent less than 14% of the total population.[1]
  • In Australia, the average full-time weekly wage for a woman is 15.3% less than a man; and women will retire with less than half the superannuation of a man.[2]
  • In the UK, men with physical impairments generally experience pay gaps in the range of 15% to 28%, depending on the nature of the disability. The difference between non-disabled women’s pay and that of women with physical impairments ranges from 8% to 18%.[3]
  • In the United States, 42% of Transgender American’s are unemployed and 31% are living at the poverty level.[4]

So why do we continue to see inequality in employment?

Despite all the awareness and work to improve employment equality and inclusion, there are four commons slip-ups in recruitment which allow for underlying bias to be introduced into the hiring process.


1. Job descriptions

Despite the best of intentions, hiring managers or recruiters can discourage groups of potential applicants. They do so by using restrictive terms which are gendered or ageist. This can extend to unnecessary education standards which are not required to do the role.

2. CV filtering

More often than not, recruiters and hiring managers are overwhelmed with application volumes. To save time CV screening is done for job titles, big brand company names, and favouring certain universities or education providers.

3. Unconscious name filtering

In some instances, unintentionally or intentionally, applicants will be filtered out of the screening process based on their name. Researchers of Harvard and Princeton found that blind auditions increased the likelihood that female musicians would be hired by an orchestra by 25 to 46%. Whilst one seminal study found that African American sounding names had a 50% lower call back rate for an interview when compared with typical White named individuals.

4. All of the unconscious biases

Would you believe there are over 100 different forms of cognitive biases? Confirmation bias, affinity bias, similarity bias, halo effect, horn effect, status quo bias, conformity bias… the list goes on. These biases make diverse hiring an even more difficult process as you don’t even know that you are missing out on the best candidates!

The Bottom Line? Lack of diversity costs.

Time and time again research has shown that diverse organisations are more effective, perform better financially and have higher levels of employee engagement.

A recent McKinsey report, “Delivering through Diversity” showed that organisations with gender-diverse management were 21% more likely to experience above-average profits. Whilst companies with a more culturally and ethnically diverse executive team were 33% more likely to see better-than-average profits. This figure grows to 43% when the board of director level is also diverse in gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation.[5]

More compelling is that for every 1% rise in workforce gender and cultural diversity, there is a corresponding increase of between 3 to 9 per cent in sales revenue![6]

Not only is diversity a social and ethical problem for organisations, but it is also a commercial one.

Assessing all applicants blindly and equally leads to improved diversity, recruitment efficiency, and organisational performance.

Blind screening: Removing information that reveals the candidate’s race, gender, age, names of schools, etc to reduce unconscious bias that creeps into hiring decisions.

For our customer, a global airline, cabin crew are at the heart of delivering great customer experience. With 9000+ cabin crew creating iconic experiences for passengers every day, they want to maintain their strong brand. They intend to do this through hiring the best in customer service to give their applicants an iconic experience.

An iconic brand also attracts an enormous number of applications some of which don’t fit the criteria. Sifting through so many CVs to uncover the right candidates is extremely time-consuming for the recruiters.

Some of the challenges the team faced in their existing processes included:

  • Using videos to screen applicants that only added to the cognitive and time load for recruiters and introduced the opportunity for bias.
  • Low yield from assessment centres for those applicants shortlisted from screening.
  • Maintaining a gender mix in the applicant pool was important. Yet their screening tools were inadvertently omitting men from the process.

The results were amazing.

  • No bias in the process with the ratio of men and women unaffected leading to a more diverse set of hires in comparison to prior campaigns.
  • Shortlisting completed in 2 hours instead of 2 weeks.
  • Over 2.5 times more offers were made compared with the existing process. 100% completion of the process by applicants.
  • Average candidate enjoyability score of 9/10.

A post-campaign survey showed a perfect score from the recruitment team rating the technology as faster, fairer and delivering better candidates.

How conversational AI can truly remove bias in screening

No matter the good intentions, humans will always lean on their biases when making decisions. Interrupting bias in recruitment needs a systemic solution. Something that can operate independently, in the absence of a human trusted to do the right thing.

While Sapia does not claim to completely solve for bias within an organisation, using a chat-based assessment at the top of the recruitment funnel will help you to interrupt, manage and therefore change, biases that reduce diversity in hiring.

A fair and inclusive Candidate Experience

Chat is inclusive for all candidates

Candidates chat through text every day. It’s natural, normal and intuitive. Chat interviews provide an opportunity for them to express themselves, in their way, with no pressure.

Playing games to get a job is not relevant. Talking to a camera is not fair. What if you are unattractive, introverted, not the right colour or gender, or don’t have the right clothes?  When you use chat over other assessment tools, you’re solving for adoption, candidate satisfaction, inclusivity and fairness. Our platform has a 99% candidate satisfaction score, and a 90% completion rate. Here’s the 2020 Candidate Experience Playbook.

We use an intrinsically blind assessment design

Blind screening means an interview that is truly blind to the irrelevant markers of age, gender and ethnicity. That just can’t see you. And therefore, cannot judge you. Sapia does not use any information other than the candidate responses to the interview questions to infer suitability for the job your candidates are applying for. As a company we call this ‘fairness through unawareness’. The algorithm knows nothing about sensitive attributes and therefore cannot use them to assess a candidate. Sapia only cares if the candidate is suitable for the job, and nothing else.

Why is organizational diversity important?
Are there some examples of organizational dimensions of diversity?
What does diversity mean?

Join the movement

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You can try out Sapia’s FirstInterview right now, or leave us your details here to get a personalised demo.








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These 6 start-ups will be in the ‘spotlight’ at Spring HR Tech

The pandemic hasn’t slowed down innovation in HR tech

By:  | March 1, 2021 • 2 min read

While the past year has brought considerable challenges to the HR function, there is one silver lining: Innovation in HR tech is abounding. Despite the disruptions of the pandemic, the HR tech market has continued to thrive—with many new entrants tailoring solutions to the unique HR needs that have arisen in recent months, says Steve Boese, chair of the HR Technology Conference, which will be held in Las Vegas in the fall.

Steve Boese

“The HR technology start-up space has been extremely vibrant for years, and the pandemic, it seems to me, has not really slowed the pace of innovation very much if at all,” Boese says. “Newer, more agile tech companies can often provide important and immediate benefits to help organizations react quickly to a changing environment.”

Boese will share several of the most innovative solutions during a Spotlight Session at this month’s Spring HR Tech, a free and virtual event. Boese and conference organizers reviewed about 75 start-ups, conducting demos and meetings with about 30 of them, to ultimately select six standout start-ups that will demo during the conference session. The session, Six Emerging HR Tech Startups to Put on Your Radar Now, will begin at 2 p.m. Friday, March 19.

“These six showcased innovation, relevancy, impact and leading-edge technology for HR organizations that we felt represented a great selection of the best in new thinking in HR tech,” Boese says.

Although the start-ups address a range of issues facing HR, their work is being uniquely driven by recent events.

“As you would expect, the impact of the events of 2020—the pandemic and the social justice movement in particular—are definitely influencing the technology developments we are seeing,” he says. “So, areas like mental health and wellbeing, diversity and inclusion and even support for offboarding employees are three specific areas that will be showcased in the session.”

The participating companies are:

Unmind: a technology solution employers can use to support their overall mental health programs and strategies

FutureFit AI: a new approach to separations, offering people a more supportive and personalized experience as they transition to their next role

Hourly by AMS: a set of tools to help both organizations and candidates navigate the hiring process for hourly roles

Sapia (Formerly PredictiveHire) : a fully digital software solution for volume recruitment

Eskalera: a platform that drives employee inclusion through training, reflection and connection

Work Shield: a tool that manages employers’ reporting, investigation and resolution of workplace harassment and discrimination issues in their entirety

Click HERE to register for Spring HR Tech

To keep up to date on all things “Hiring with Ai” subscribe to our blog!

You can try out Sapia’s Chat Interview right now, or leave us your details to get a personalised demo

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