Becoming, by Netflix tells the Michelle Obama story, and throughout the documentary, it is clear that other people’s stories resonate with her just as much as her story resonates with them. As inspiring as you would expect her to be, she spends much time mentoring and coaching young women, just by listening to them and sharing her story. Midway through the doco, as another young African American woman shares her self-doubt because she doesn’t have all the reference-able facts to open up the right doors, (the right college on her CV, the right GPA, etc. ). Michelle Obama says this:
Wow! That line just nailed it for us because your story of what makes you you. What shapes and motivates you is what matters not how you turn up to your education, to an interview, to your job.
It’s why so many organisations are investing in testing your softs skills, the real skills because hard skills can be learnt. Your openness to new ideas, ability to cope with change, humility to ask for help, are way more relevant than ‘your stats’ at any point in time. That means two things for HR: Finding technology that will help you understand the story and removing bias that gets in the way of being able to hear the story.
COVID-19 enforced WFH restrictions have created zoom fatigue. It’s a real thing.
Eight weeks and already we are so over video.
Text has been around for a decade. Ever heard of text fatigue? No, that’s because text is easy, it is fast (especially if you are a 16-year-old who texts in acronyms (our latest fav ‘POS’ (not point of sale but parent over shoulder)). It’s also safe. Safe for introverts, safe for people who might not feel comfortable on a video call or even worse a video interview.
Forcing your applicants to invest in impression management is not a good start to building a relationship of trust and authenticity with your newest employee. How many great introverts, deep-thinkers and high-integrity individuals are you at risk of losing when you force people to perform on a video interview?
And why would you make people play a game, answer 150 +multi choice questions, (many repetitive that gives your experience no platform at all), when you can make it easy and comfortable with a chat or text interview?
Doing it by text gives everyone a chance to shine, without performance anxiety, without having to prepare or risk someone gaming it by googling the right answer. When you connect with people about them, using technology they trust, that lets them be themselves (without bias getting in the way). That is what a candidate first experience looks like. It’s why we get 99% + candidate satisfaction from 10,000 applicants a month.
To find out how to interpret bias in recruitment, we also have a great eBook on inclusive hiring.
While workplace diversity might once have been considered a ‘nice to have’, today it’s a ‘must-have’ for employers who recognise the value it brings to their organisation.
The idea of workplace diversity is that the people in any organisation’s team should reflect the society in which we live – that is people of different genders, different ages and different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. That seems logical and simple enough, yet achieving diversity is still a struggle for many.
Today, workplace diversity is not just about increasing female representation and employing team members from different cultural backgrounds. While these are great goals, true diversity is about so much more.
Diversity can be broadly sorted into two categories:
Inherent – effectively the defining traits and characteristics we are born with – gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic background, religious and cultural backgrounds.
Acquired – reflecting our experience of the world around us and covering things like education, life knowledge, learned values and skills, socio-economic mobility, political beliefs. These are developed, earned or achieved over time.
It’s the combination of inherent and acquired traits that make people and societies diverse. This holistic view of culture, background, life experience, education, values and perspectives is a top priority for recruiters and employers alike.
Diversity hiring is not about increasing workplace diversity for the sake of diversity. Diversity hiring is all about giving every candidate an equal opportunity, regardless of their background. It’s about identifying and removing any steps in sourcing, screening and shortlisting candidates that may allow discrimination against candidates and personal characteristics that have nothing to do with their ability to do the job such as gender, age, religion, sexual orientation and so on.
By removing biases against individuals or groups of candidates, the process of finding the best candidates to be considered for the role can be based on merit and all the qualities identified as essential for the role and the organisation.
From discovering an opportunity through to offer. It addresses bias, inclusivity and fairness. And ideally, it makes recruiters’ lives easier. This is explored in the Inclusive Hiring e-Book here >
Diversity is embraced by companies who understand the value it brings to their business.
In their 2018 report Delivering through Diversity, McKinsey&Company found that:
While McKinsey’s study was focused on US global companies, their findings are reflected in other studies, white papers and shared experiences of organisations all around the world.
Unsurprisingly, diversity in the workplace can be a deal maker or breaker for millennial and GenZ job seekers. Deloitte found that 83% of millennials are more engaged when they can know a company fosters an inclusive culture.
But it’s not just the next generations. A recent survey by Glassdoor found that 67% of all candidates say it’s an important factor when considering employment opportunities while more than 50% of current employees want their workplace to do more to increase diversity.
While there’s no doubt that diversity hiring is good for business, for any organisation that doesn’t embrace diversity, the opposite can also be true. Apart from missing out on the benefits that diversity brings to productivity, employee satisfaction and business reputation, employers also risk breaking the law.
Within Australia, diversity is supported by national and state laws that cover equal employment opportunity, human rights, and anti-discrimination in the workplace. It’s essential that all employers understand their own responsibilities and the rights of employees or job candidates. The cost of non-compliance can be severe while the damage to an organisation’s reputation could be matched by irreparable damage to sales, business contracts and their employer brand.
In Australia, it is unlawful to disadvantage employees and job seekers in any way because of their:
Whether innate or learned, everybody is capable of unconscious bias. Reinforced by our own personal experiences, cultural background, beliefs and world view, bias is how we feel about something – a person or group of people, an idea, a thing – and how we use those feelings to make judgements and decisions about those people or things, often instantaneously.
Psychologists and researchers have identified over 150 types of bias that impact the way we engage, assess and interact with others. In the recruitment process that’s 150 ways that otherwise suitably qualified candidates can be overlooked, ignored, put aside or deliberately discounted. You can read more about unconscious bias in our article here.
Because unconscious bias is a universal and inherently human condition, it’s a problem that can’t be solved by any amount of bias training or awareness.
So if humans can’t solve the very human problem, what can be done? Sapia has solved the issue of unconscious bias in hiring by taking humans out of the process for top-of-funnel interview screening through an Artificial Intelligence enabled chat interview platform. It’s an easy way to implement data-driven decision-making with a structured and automated process that provides a level playing field for all candidates.
Adopting Sapia Ai-enabled decision-making to remove bias from the early interview process is one of the easiest ways to get diversity hiring working for you. Here are some further ideas from Sapia’s team to help increase diversity in candidate sourcing, screening and, ultimately, hiring.
More female graduates in technical roles? A better cultural spread across the organisation? More women in middle management? Without understanding how diversity hiring supports your business plans, how would you ever know you’re making progress? Diversity hiring strategies and initiatives should be agreed by your leadership team, documented in HR plans and socialised among all stakeholders.
Developing a reputation as an employer who values and nurtures diversity starts with your own people. Talk to your people to hear what’s important to them and understand if they think any policies (or attitudes) are holding diversity back. Talk to your team about diversity and the benefits it can bring.
Think about policies that may support more diversity in your workplace. Beyond hiring, it may be providing extra time off for community events or religious festivals, or simply providing workplace flexibility and freedom for employees to be comfortable being themselves.
The more your team buy into policies that support, value and celebrate diversity, the more your reputation as a diversity employer will organically grow. And the more it grows, the easier diversity hiring will become… as candidates who value diversity will be lining up to work with you.
Sapia’s automated interview platform is designed to integrate seamlessly with leading Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). Even before the interview process, use screening tools in the ATS to filter and sort candidates on skills, qualifications or experience alone. This blind screening to identify candidates with the best potential adds an additional layer of bias-free screening to your diversity hiring.
Undertaking a review of past job ads can help you see where bias may have crept into your recruiting process. Is your language inclusive? Would all candidates feel they could apply regardless of age, gender or cultural background? While being careful not to actually be biased, your words can talk more directly to the candidates you want to attract and explain why they’d be a great fit for your team.
While you’re reviewing the way you reach out to candidates, also consider whether you’re screening or interviewing for the qualities you actually value most or you’re unconsciously guiding the process towards certain types or profiles. Sometimes you need to ask others to check your own bias.
Is it time to fish for candidates in a different talent pool? If you’re relying on the same sources and same screening factors, you’re likely to keep cultivating the same type of candidate. Think about where and how you can connect with a more diverse candidate pool.
If you are targeting more women in specific roles, for example, find relevant interest or networking groups online or within platforms such as LinkedIn and talk to candidates directly. Ask your female employees to recommend their own connections or former colleagues and share job leads. The same principle applies to reaching out to any particular demographic or skill set and employees appreciate having their opinions and recommendations heard and valued.
Especially when you’re starting your diversity hiring journey, you may want to help things along with specific diversity programs that could offer an internship or traineeship to candidates of specific backgrounds. Consider working with local schools, colleges or community groups to make connections and target the appropriate up and coming candidates. It can also be a great way to engage and motivate your own team in supporting diversity hiring goals.
Candidates know text and trust text and questions can be tailored to suit the requirements of the role and the organisation’s brand values. Unlike competitors, Sapia has no video hookups, visual content or voice data. No CVs and no data extracted from social channels. All of which can be triggers for bias– unconscious or otherwise.
Sapia’s solution is designed to provide every candidate with a great experience that respects and recognises them as the individual they are. People are more than their CV and candidates appreciate the opportunity to tell their story in their own words, in their own time. Sapia is the only conversational interview platform with 99% candidate satisfaction feedback. You can read more about blind screening in our article here.
You can try out Sapia’s Chat Interview right now – here – or leave us your details to get a personalised demo
The rise in video platforms for hiring suggests we still have as strong a ‘bias’ towards having to see someone to hire someone, as there has been with having to see someone working in the office to trust they are working.
What will it take for that bias to be disrupted?
Mature organisations who have fully remote teams working in 75+ countries, hire remotely via text and/or email. No face-to-face and definitely no video interviewing, which can be a petri dish for bias.
Many companies are hurting right now. COVID-19 is forcing them to make lay-offs and tough decisions about the things that mattered to them. For some, Diversity and Inclusion initiatives have been the first to go. Given the havoc that COVID-19 has created in our economy, this loss of focus is somewhat understandable.
Then George Floyd died after a police officer held him down so he was unable to breathe. In the week since we’ve seen unprecedented statements coming out from companies in support of the #blacklivesmatter movement. This signifies a huge shift in how companies engage with these issues, but when we’re fighting institutionalized racism, and corporate America is a very much part of the institution, it doesn’t matter how powerful your statement is – unless you’re unwilling to take action and to change internally.
The idea of “blind applications” became a thing a few years ago, with companies removing names on applications thinking that it would remove any gender or racial profiling. It made a difference, but bias still existed though the schools that people attended, as well as the past experience they might have had. Interestingly, these are two things that have now been shown to have no impact on a person’s ability to do a job.
Artificial Intelligence was touted as the end-solution, but early attempts still ran through CVs and amplified biases based on gender, ethnicity, age – even if they weren’t recorded, AI created profiles comparing ‘blind’ candidates to those in roles currently (ie. white men) – as well as favouring schools and experience.
True bias in recruiting can only exist if the application is truly blind (no demographics are recorded) and is not based on a CV, but through matching a person’s responses to specific questions to their ability to perform a job. It has to be text-based so that true anonymity can be achieved – something video can’t do as people are still racially profiled.
To have a conversation about removing bias from your organisation – we would love to chat
Have you seen the 2020 Candidate Experience Playbook? Download it here.
On 26th August, our CEO Barb Hyman facilitated a webinar on “Hiring with Heart” in collaboration with The Recruitment Events Network.
To our surprise, Jeff Uden who is the Head of Talent and L&D for Iceland Foods also joined the webinar.
During the session, Jeff offered some wonderful comments. We took a transcript of Jeff’s input and have jotted it here. It offers insights on dealing with enormous volumes of candidates, offering positive candidate experience and communicating culture from a candidate’s first experience with a brand.
Thanks for your insights, Jeff. Incredibly valuable.
At Iceland Foods, we have started working with Sapia. That was as a result of a couple of things. One was the element of the mass recruitment that we were doing. Just to put it in perspective, in the first four months of this year, we received over five hundred thousand applications.
We wanted to find a way that delivered a level of fairness, a level of consistency around how we sift those applications that then enabled store managers to reduce that amount of time that they are spending on doing the recruitment.
The other thing that we wanted to do was significantly enhance our candidate experience. One of the challenges that I had around the experiences that we had within the business is that it felt like it was really standard. It felt like it was cold; it felt like it came from a computer. We wanted to change how we did that and more importantly give something back to the candidates.
Often nowadays people apply for jobs, and there’s the standard ‘bulk’ response that says if you haven’t heard anything from us in two weeks take it that you haven’t been successful.
As big companies or companies of any size we have a duty to help those individuals to understand why they haven’t been successful and to help them to be successful in the next role for which they apply.
The fact that they won’t be hired into your business is probably the right decision because they wouldn’t have been the right fit given the testing that they have gone through. However, that doesn’t mean they are a bad individual. What we need to do is to help them to understand where their strengths are and where their development needs are, and certainly, that was a massive appeal of working with Sapia.
Going through and reading some of the feedback that we’ve had from the candidates, it’s having a huge effect on the candidate experience.
We had a swift implementation planned. But probably one of the lengthiest parts of it was about actually getting the questions right and getting the language right. We really did spend a decent period doing that.
I just had a quick look at one of the pieces of feedback here, and this is completely unedited:
That’s what’s coming over from the way in which we put the language across within the questions.
We are genuinely really chuffed about how they are engaging far more with us as a brand and how they are feeling like they are getting something back. They genuinely don’t feel like this is a computer process in any way whatsoever; they genuinely feel like they are talking to people.
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If there was ever a time for our profession to show humanity for the thousands that are looking for work, that time is now.