DE&I is top of mind for most of today’s business leaders. While the importance of DE&I in the workplace is widely recognized, many organizations are still struggling to turn their bold DE&I commitments and goals into real, demonstrable change.
DE&I must be addressed at every stage of the talent lifecycle in order to build a truly equitable workplace, but if you’re just getting started on your DE&I journey, the Talent Acquisition (TA) function is a good place to start. Ensuring that you source and hire new diverse talent fairly and without bias is an essential part of becoming a truly equitable employer.
How can today’s companies and their TA leaders meet diversity targets in the hiring processes most efficiently and effectively?
Identify and understand the gaps
Before you can work towards any real change, you must first take a step back and understand the gaps and issues that currently exist in your workforce around DE&I. This requires accurate and up-to-date talent data.
Today’s enterprises have more data on their employees and candidates than ever before, but chances are that data lives in multiple HR systems (that likely don’t communicate with each other), which makes it very difficult to identify patterns and biases that could be damaging your organization’s reputation, limiting opportunities for your employees, or preventing you from reaching and attracting qualified candidates.
These issues and gaps will vary from company to company. Perhaps you will discover that one or two specific groups are receiving significantly fewer job offers than others. Or maybe you have several teams who lack diversity and you weren’t aware because you simply haven’t been tracking that data. Once you identify and understand the areas that need improvement, you can create a game plan and start making real, positive changes – starting with the ways you hire to ensure fair and equitable processes.
To see that full picture, you need the help of technology. With the right tools, you can get a holistic view of your talent data. Once you have this single source of truth, you can more easily identify areas where the most work needs to be done to become the equitable employer you aspire to be.
Reduce and remove bias
One of the most important issues to address when working to improve diversity and inclusion is the bias that may exist within your organization and, particularly, in your hiring process. Even unconscious biases like affinity or confirmation bias can result in high-quality candidates (who have the skills you need) being eliminated from the process prematurely or unfairly.
These biases must be removed to build a diverse and inclusive workforce. If bias remains in your hiring process, not only will you lose out on great talent, but it can be damaging to your employer brand as well – likely costing you even more talent in the future.
The right AI-driven HR technology can analyze candidates based on their relevant and transferable skills first and foremost – without emphasizing other factors that hold bias such as gender, race, level of education, or where they are from.
Shift your mindset to skills-first
A skills-first approach to talent acquisition (and talent management in general) is the key to diversifying your workforce.
When skills are prioritized over other ‘qualifications’ such as previous experience, what university they attended, or what their most recent job title was, the process becomes fairer. And more candidates can be considered for roles – many of whom might have been overlooked by a recruiter trying to manually match people to jobs on paper.
A recent study from Deloitte found that 80% of business executives agree that making decisions about hiring, pay, promotions, succession, and deployment based on people’s skills (rather than their job history, tenure in the job, or network) would reduce bias and improve fairness.
Businesses are understanding more and more that by focusing only on qualifications and experience, they may be missing out on top talent – including existing employees – who already have many of the skills that are needed to do the job well. And with the right technology, employers can map skills (between people and open roles) with accuracy – giving TA professionals confidence that they are making the right hire, the first time, without bias.
A Universal Skills Platform can take all of your skills data from across your HR systems and compile it into a single, holistic view of all the skills you already have within your organization, helping you identify what gaps are left unfilled. With that knowledge, you can better understand the skills you need to look for in candidates (internally or externally).
Cast a wider net
A vital part of a good DE&I strategy – particularly when it comes to talent acquisition – is to ensure that candidates are not being overlooked or eliminated from the talent pool unfairly or prematurely.
TA leaders must consider this when looking at their candidate pools and talent pipelines. Are there groups of people you aren’t currently considering for open roles? Take a closer look at your hiring process, and determine who is being left out. Perhaps you have excluded alumni candidates from your search, or ‘silver medalists’ who did well in your hiring process but ultimately did not receive an offer the first time around.
By including all of these groups, you can cast a wider net – creating larger talent pools and pipelines for your recruiters to work with. And in turn, when you start with a much bigger talent pool, you will likely have a more diverse pool of candidates from the very beginning of your search – all of them with a fair and equal shot at a new role with your company.
A Talent CRM can help you manage candidates of all kinds – new applicants, passive candidates, internal candidates, alumni, and silver medalists, all within one single platform. This helps make recruiters’ jobs easier and allows them to resurface talent that they might have unintentionally passed up had they been looking for candidates manually.
Build personalized talent experiences
So you have your DE&I goals in place, and you understand the importance of reducing bias and a skills-first approach to hiring. The next step is to incorporate personalization into your talent acquisition and talent management processes.
Today’s top talent desires personalized experiences from potential (or current) employers. At a small company, it may be relatively easy for a recruiter or HR professional to personalize a hiring experience to an individual candidate. But how do you do this at scale? For many large organizations, this is a serious challenge.
Luckily, there are a lot of tools out there that are built to address this problem. With the right AI-powered technology, large companies can automate manual aspects of their hiring processes, while personalizing the candidate journey along the way. For example, AI can look at an individual’s skills and can make personalized recommendations for open positions that they would be a good fit for. And remember, these recommendations are based on skills – not previous experience, education, location, or any other demographic – making your hiring process more equitable.
But DE&I and personalization must remain a priority well after a hire is made. To keep employees engaged and retain them long-term, diversity, equity and inclusion must become ingrained into the company culture and all of your HR practices to become a truly equitable company that will thrive for years to come.
A full Talent Lifecycle Management solution, backed by explainable AI, can help you hire and retain diverse talent, while reducing bias and achieving your DE&I goals at every stage of the talent lifecycle from sourcing new candidates, to developing existing employees, to engaging your alumni community.
At Beamery, we believe everyone deserves equal access to meaningful work, skills, and careers, which is why we are committed to creating human experiences that focus on potential through the talent lifecycle.