We’re coming up to seven years helping businesses with their recruitment (so we’re like, 43 in start-up years). That’s been over 800,000 candidates assessed and a heap of lessons about the things that really matter when it comes to inclusivity.
But wanting diversity and getting it are two separate issues – here are some of the things we’ve learned along the way that could help.
So, yeah. Basically.
If your organisation seems to be staffed by the same kind of person, you have a bit of work to do before you worry about whether your recruitment is inclusive. Ask yourself what needs to happen to make your workplace more welcoming to different kinds of people.
Kylie Gardner, GM Human Resources at Chemist Warehouse, would agree with us (if she were reading this).
“Let's make diversity more than a token word. Let's take ownership of it! Let's look in our own backyards and really evaluate what we are doing, the hours we work and the expectations we have to ensure we are not creating issues in the workplace,” she said.
Thanks, Kylie, there aren’t enough praise-hands emoji in the world to express our feelings.
Asking for “Coder Bois” or talking about “man-hours” will be an issue – we know women don’t apply for roles that sound too masculine. But other, more subtle language cues can put off diverse candidates. Simple, jargon-free language will feel easier and more welcoming to neurodiverse people. Similarly, avoiding metaphor will do the same for people who have English as a second language – for example, the phrase, “push the envelope” is… weird if you’re not familiar with English idioms.
Even saying “strong leader” instead of “capable manager” could attract more men than women.
Blind recruiting isn’t the magic elixir for diversity, but it can be one very powerful ingredient. It’s not news that unconscious bias can sway recruiters towards some candidates and away from others. Here’s a study showing bias against candidates with Asian-sounding names, for example. This one demonstrated that minority candidates who ‘whitened their resumes’ got more interviews. Covering up irrelevant demographic information means recruiters can focus on the things that will actually make a successful candidate – values alignment, soft skills and experience.
But, beware – if you’re still reviewing resumes as part of your blind recruiting process, your clever brains may still be able to tell a lot about a candidate. You probably can tell if English is not a candidate’s first language, even if they’re fluent and the resume is error-free. A woman’s resume also generally reads very differently from a man’s. Women will typically emphasise strengths in coordination, organisation and communication, while men’s resumes focus on specific skills. The point: blind recruitment works if you can do it without resumes. That’s how we designed Fletcher’s grad programme – using a custom quiz, we whittled 600 candidates down to 50, with no demographics or resumes. The client was pretty stoked.
“The huge volumes would’ve forced us to make snap judgments and inevitably bias would’ve played into that. [Using Weirdly] we ended up uncovering a whole lot of brilliant candidates who might have either not got through or not even applied for a place in our grad programme in the first place.” – Dan Phillips, Brand Experience Manager.
Take a long look at your recruiting process – underneath all those good intentions, there’ll be bias, grumbling along, ruining your efforts at diversity and inclusion. For example, when we first introduced our video interview feature, our clients were all heart-eyes. Video gives hiring managers an amazing chance to get to know the candidates early in the process. But? It can be massively off-putting to people who are used to being marginalised for the way they look. So, tweaks were in order. Now, using our new multimedia question feature, candidates can choose to answer one question through their pick of video, audio, image or text, which makes it more inclusive for more diverse candidates.
If you’re always casting your rod in the same pool, don’t be surprised if you end up with the same kinds of fish. Keep using those job boards, sure, but have a look for more unusual places. Seek out community groups, job boards, newspapers or social media channels that serve underrepresented groups. Consider tweaking your terms of employment to make them better suit people with different lifestyle needs, live in different locations or have different skills and qualifications.
You know who tend to get paid less? Women, migrants, people of colour, disabled people, neurodiverse people (and so on and so forth). Instead of asking people about those underpaid roles – and expect them to gamble their employment by asking for more money – just be upfront about what you consider fair pay. This helps undo societal discrimination and means you’ll more readily attract more diverse people.
AI is helpful, but it’s still built by people – i.e. it’s still biased. A clear example of that was Amazon’s sexist AI, programmed to choose candidates based on who had been successful in the past. That meant the algorithm was actively penalising any resume that included the word ‘women’. Amazon resolved that particular issue but there’s no telling what other bias is built into systems like it, that will be subtler and more insidious.
If you’re using AI, include it as one tool amongst many to help solve specific challenges in your recruitment process. It’s also important to use AI developed by people who have made it a focus to eliminate bias.
True diversity includes people who have atypical brains, come from underprivileged backgrounds, have disabilities, speak different languages (and so on) – and there are things you can do to make sure your recruitment process is accessible to these people. Do you have alternatives for people who don’t have homes or access to technology? Are your job ads designed to make it easy for people who can’t see, can’t hear, are dyslexic or otherwise neurodiverse?
Huge call here, but resumes tend to replicate and reinforce bias, and we believe they don’t tell you what you really need to know about candidates anyway. What does their university or work history tell you about their emotional intelligence, capacity to collaborate or interpersonal skills? Nothing, is what. Resumes are especially unhelpful if you’re looking for very young people, who’ll have no work history to speak of at all. Those resume limitations are a massive part of why we started Weirdly in the first place.
Of course we’d say this, but genuinely, technology can help solve a lot of the issues inherent in the way people recruit traditionally. For example, Weirdly lets you build instant longlists based on values-alignment, doesn’t require resumes and has built-in features to help factor against other kinds of bias. Tech won’t solve everything overnight, but it gives you the platform to untangle the parts of your recruitment process that discriminate against some candidates.
If you’d like to see a demo or read about how our clients have been using the tool to de-bias their recruitment, get in touch.