4 Ways Technology Can Improve Diversity Hiring

Diversity initiatives are rarely the number one concern of businesses, and LinkedIn’s 2015 Global Recruiting Trends report demonstrates this perfectly. In fact, only 9% of small companies prioritize diversity recruiting. Large companies fare slightly better with 15% of them making diversity a priority. However, it’s also worth noting that diversity was not mentioned at all in LinkedIn’s 2016 Global Recruiting Trends report.

Unfortunately, we’re still living in a world where under qualified men are 25% more likely to gain employment in STEM fields than similarly qualified women, and where white candidates are 50% more likely to be hired than black candidates across the entire job market.

With this in mind, here are some of the best ways technology can help improve diversity hiring: 

1. Make your hiring managers aware of any subconscious bias they might have

While we might like to think we are acting in the most rational and logical manner, the truth of the matter is that many of us carry subconscious biases. These are often a product of the environment in which we live, and remaining unaware is what enables lack of diversity in the work place.

As part of your onboarding process for recruiters or hiring managers, make it compulsory for these individuals to take part in the Implicit Association Tests. IATs can determine whether an individual has any subconscious biases that might affect their hiring decisions. You can make the results of these tests confidential, as the goal for employees is to become more aware about themselves, not have them shamed by others. By becoming more aware, hiring managers can make changes to the interview process to remove any unfair biases.

2. Remove gender bias in job listings

Textio, a new app for recruiters and hiring managers, analyzes your job listing and provides instant feedback on whether the language you’re using skews more towards masculine or feminine. It might seem implausible, but certain verbiage can carry subconscious gender bias and might actually be dissuading certain gender identities from applying to your positions. By substituting this language for a more neutral choice of words, you can make sure your job listings are as welcoming as possible to all interested parties.

3. Encourage anonymous applicants

People make first impressions rather quickly. Sometimes even after just seeing your name. Case in point: in 2014, José Zamora was having difficulty getting job interviews, despite sending out 50-100 resumes per day. After changing the name on his resume from José to Joe, he was inundated with replies from companies that were interested in scheduling an interview. A 2014 report even confirms that that “discrimination appears to be strongest at the time when employers decide whom to interview” (source: IZA World of Labor).

In order to prevent gender or racial bias, investing in an anonymous application process could do wonders with improving neutral hiring while giving all applicants an even footing. An application system that replaces names with an identification number and replacing the phone screen with an online chat would help make sure that all qualified candidates get their chance, regardless of race or gender.

Also, implementing standardized application forms, designed to keep the applicant’s identity anonymous, would save hiring managers’ valuable time as they wouldn’t have to sort through resumes and cover letters that are in all different formats. They would be able to focus in on the information that matters to them most to determine who they want to bring in for an interview.

The only cause for concern with anonymous applications would be ensuring affirmative action compliance. Allowing an administrator to reveal certain aspects of the candidates’ profile, such as gender, would at least allow hiring managers to make sure they are able to meet diversity quotas if their initial picks ended up being not diverse enough to remain compliant.

4. Implement data-driven recruiting

A lot of bias can hide behind rejections based on ‘cultural fit’. While it is important for retention that a candidate be a good fit with the team, it’s very difficult to gauge that fit with just a few meetings.

For example, excessive confidence in an interview can be seen as a positive attribute for a male candidate, but be misconstrued as bossiness or ego for a female candidate. Her rejection could be justified by claiming her to be a poor cultural fit.

Keep a record of all of your employees and determine objective data points like education, source of hire, years in the industry or anything that might affect their performance. Determine who your top performers are and start looking for trends in the data. That way, if you have an applicant who aligns with these criteria, you can gauge whether they are a true fit with actual data instead of with just a gut feeling.

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Originally published on March 9, 2016.