Hiring practices to build a diverse workforce

A diverse workforce can strengthen your organization on every level, from employee retention to your bottom line. Updating practices to support a more diverse and inclusive workplace is more important than ever. And part of this includes bringing blind hiring into your recruitment process.

Why you should hire a diverse workforce

Creating a diverse office begins with your recruitment strategy. Bringing broad and varied perspectives into your business while protecting your reputation from blunders due to blind spots can make your company more profitable.

Research1 has long shown that increasing workplace diversity improves a company’s ability to market to a more diverse customer base, which can have a direct impact on its bottom line.

Inclusive employers attract a broad range of applicants, which strengthens both your recruitment and your business. When you are recognized as a diverse and inclusive employer, you gain a wide pool of applicants from which to draw, with differing skills, perspectives, enthusiasm and commitment to you as an employer.

Plus, when you commit to creating a diverse and inclusive work environment for your employees, where everyone feels welcome, people are happier and more productive.

What is “blind hiring”?

Blind hiring involves removing all identification details from applications, so the hiring committee can review candidate skills and experience without seeing details, which can lead to biased decisions. This includes names, age, education, and personal interests. Lack of personal details also prevents recruiters and hiring managers from making assumptions about a candidate from their social media posts or profile pictures.

The concept behind blind hiring is based on eliminating opportunities for unconscious bias, which could negatively impact your company’s diversity goals. According to research,2 unconscious bias can inadvertently affect every level of recruitment and employee retention. Blind hiring techniques can be particularly important if there is a lack of diversity within the hiring committee. A variety of unconscious biases contribute to who gets hired and who doesn’t.

Tips and techniques for blind hiring

  • Speak to a diverse pool — Language used in job descriptions, such as asking for a specific degree, or using words like ‘salesman’ instead of ‘salesperson’, will limit who applies. Use relevant skill-based keywords and post your job in places where more diverse candidates are likely to find it.
  • Go the manual route — Make sure you stay focused on your applicants’ skills and experience, and avoid introducing unconscious bias by having someone who is not part of the hiring committee remove all identifiable information from applications and resumes before they are reviewed, including names of women’s or historically black colleges. Also, obscure mentions of interests, hobbies or experience unrelated to job performance.
  • Leverage technology — Take advantage of new and emerging software that is designed to reduce bias and can help with blind hiring. Look for software with features like auto removal of details that could introduce bias or screening for job-related skills without looking at factors such as age, gender, education, and previous work experience.
  • Create a review process — Create a skill-based ranking system, outlining the work experience most critical to the success of the role. This will help you fairly assess applicants based on criteria like team leadership, budget management, and technical skills.
  • Avoid social media pre-screening — Being the powerful communication medium that it is, social media provides permanent and wide-reaching information that often holds little value for the recruiter. How people choose to present themselves on social media, through pictures, posts, comments, etc. could be misinterpreted and bias your hiring decision in a negative way.
  • Use inclusive skills tests — Ask for samples or conduct a skills test that reflects actual daily responsibilities. Keep in mind some common skills tests can put underrepresented groups at a disadvantage. Depending on the circumstances, you might provide test instructions in multiple languages.
  • Offer unconscious bias training to reviewers — Provide training to reviewers on the many ways bias can appear, particularly when bias is unintentional, and teach them to recognize these biases, both in coworkers and in themselves.
  • Conduct structured interviews — Create a list of skill-based or behavioral-based interview questions that are the same for each candidate in the pool, and rate answers according to a preset scoring system.

Establishing hiring practices to build a diverse workforce will benefit your employees and your business. Blind hiring in itself will not guarantee that diverse candidates will make the final cut. Recruiters and hiring managers need to be sensitized on recognizing unconscious bias and conducting standardized interviews with the aim of improving representation. Although it may sound like a lot of effort now, ensuring that you have a workforce that is diverse in thought, experience, perspective and practice will bring financial and cultural benefits to your organization, as well as improve your brand perception among your clients and employees alike.

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1 https://harver.com/blog/diversity-in-customer-service/

2 https://www.ciphr.com/features/unconscious-bias-in-the-workplace/