AGR Blog

Four ways to improve diversity

31.05.17

 Crowd of People Large

Tom Lakin, Innovation Manager at Resource Solutions shares four principles for removing bias from your recruitment process to improve the diversity of your workforce.

Diversity is high on the agenda for most employers. Not only because it’s the right thing to do, but research increasingly suggests that it positively impacts profitability and success.

Early careers recruiters arguably have the most significant role to play in the diversity of an organisation. As the initial filter of applications they can directly impact selection, they are often the first touch point for students building an impression of an employer and are responsible for removing bias from the recruitment process.

Here are four key principles to removing bias from your hiring process:

#1 Gender de-coding of job ads

Academic research shows that different words resonate with men and women. For example, white, middle-aged men tend to use words that resonate with other white, middle-aged men. We tackle this by using innovative gender bias software to strip out gendered wording from our job adverts. This identifies subtle words and phrases in job advertisements that are ‘gender-coded’ – that is words that appeal more to men or women. The tool helps eliminate words that may discourage men or women from applying. We have seen an increase in the proportion of female applicants in 100% of trials when job advert wording was revised.

#2 Learn from reality TV

TV show, The Voice, is a shining beacon of inspiration for anyone involved in recruitment. For us, it’s the principle of blind auditions void of irrelevant information – the judges can’t see contestants, they can only hear a voice - that defines meritocratic recruitment. Blind CVs have been trialled with limited success, but truly blind sourcing is possible.

We use software to hide photos of faces and names from LinkedIn profiles, searches, recruiter searches and recruiter projects to reduce the effects of unconscious bias when sourcing. This may sound extreme, but we can all be susceptible to bias when regarding genders, ethnicities, visual traits and even names. By removing irrelevant information from LinkedIn, the overall perception of a candidate’s ability is linked purely to their relevant skills.

#3 Embrace shiny, new tech

Driving the diversity agenda in recruitment often means challenging processes, which can be easier said than done. It helps to have a ground-breaking technology in challenging the status quo. The early careers space is probably the most innovative area within recruitment and there are many examples of tech that has driven change – from US-based GapJumpers to the Government’s beapplied.com.

#4 Learn to love your excel spreadsheet

One of the first challenges Resource Solutions had to overcome when tackling diversity was the data gap. While spreadsheets may not get our creative juices flowing, they allow us to identify areas for focus and potential pockets of bias. For example, there may be specific locations or teams where a gender or ethnicity may be significantly under-represented. Intelligent use of data has also helped launch successful initiatives such as contextual recruitment software from PiC and Rare.

The AGR’s Graduate Recruiter magazine has a special edition out now on Diversity and Inclusion

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