As I work with CEOs around the country, I benefit from their unique in-the-trenches insights on how their businesses are being impacted by seismic shifts such as the war for talent. One CEO told me that the unemployment rate—which is the lowest it's been in years—is what's keeping most CEOs up at night these days. Companies of all types and all sizes are finding it increasingly hard to fill positions. It's an environment that is not likely to change any time soon, one that requires a concerted effort to create a culture that is diverse—and inclusive.
One of the big barriers we see: bias in the recruiting process, however unintentional.
Bias in the Recruiting Process
The recruiting process is often fraught with bias, however unintentional. As a Fast Company article, "Are You Making One of These Recruiting Mistakes That Show Bias," notes, some very simple mistakes are common. Author Gwen Moran pints to the following:
Requiring unnecessary credentials or job experience. Doing so can disproportionately impact the number of women and people of color who may apply for open positions. Women, in fact, have been shown to be less likely to "raise their hands and submit for candidacy when they feel that they are a 50 percent to 60 percent job fit," the article notes. Being overly stringent and setting a bar that's too high will limit your opportunity to recruit diverse candidates who can bring new perspectives and insights.
Not having the talk with your recruiters. The point here: don't assume that your recruiters know what your goals are in terms of recruiting diverse candidates. Have the conversation.
Choosing biased advertising parameters. Where this misstep has most reared its head is in relation to older workers. As the Fast Company article points out: "In December 2017, a joint investigation by ProPublica and the New York Times found that a number of high-profile companies were using Facebook ad-targeting tools to block older workers from seeing job ads."
Using off-putting language in job postings and interviews. Some examples Moran gives based on input from Lucia Smith, an HR consultant, are terms of phrases like "rock star," "ninja," "work hard/play hard," and "hardcore"—"all signs that your culture is a bit 'bro-y' or not welcoming to people with families or other responsibilities." Another example: "Social media management firm Buffer found that eliminating the word 'hacker' from software developer job descriptions made them ore appealing to women." The lesson here: watch your language! Even using such seemingly innocuous terms as "expert" can limit your opportunity to draw from a larger and more diverse pool—as noted earlier, women, for instance, are less likely to "raise their hand" when the bar seems too high.
What's particularly interesting about this list is that nearly every one of these items is also part of the talent management process. Those who make their way to the high-potential lists are those who get promoted and who get tapped for the succession plan. Bias in recruiting impacts employees at every stage in the employment life cycle, minimizing the positive potential that inclusion can have for the organization.
The bottom line: be inclusive!Related: Tech Tools for Mitigating Unconscious Bias