Inclusive Hiring-Booting Bias to the Curb and Open Doors to Talent
Guest Blog-Making inclusive hiring practices your way of doing business requires thinking about others and expanding awareness. Mercy Moses takes us through a scenario of feeling excluded in the hiring process to help us understand the importance of becoming more conscious of our biases.
Hiring Bias-A Barrier that Discriminates
Imagine one evening, while checking your regular job board, you come across an ad for what seems like your dream job. The daily routine fits what you’ve always hoped for, and the industry is precisely what you’ve been waiting to break into for so long. Additionally, the gig comes with a reasonable pay raise. So, you update and submit your resume, being careful not to miss anything.
Unfortunately, you are hit by some harsh reality on the interview day. The recruiter proudly announces that the company happens to be wholly pro ‘complete family,’ and it is an integral part of the culture. The office walls are decorated with pro-two-parent family posters. Well, at this point, you are getting anxious. When you mention to the interviewing panel that you are a single parent, they are taken aback. “Are you sure?” a member asks. “Yeah, pretty sure,” you respond, and at this point, the recruiters are visibly worried. The situation gets even weirder. Some interviewers look confrontational, with one saying, “We haven’t had a single parent on our team for years.”
While the example above is exaggerated, groups of people having preconceived limiting notions in the workplace can happen more often than you think. You can likely imagine a similar situation playing out whenever a prospective employee who is different in a certain way walks into an office. They can pick up on subtle inferences that make them feel unwelcome, and nobody wants to join a workplace where they already feel like outsiders.
It’s common for organizations to struggle with enabling diverse cultures to thrive and ensure that employees feel included and are happy to work for the company.
What is Inclusive Hiring?
First, we must dispel the biggest misconception about inclusive recruiting- the quality concern or lowering the hiring bar.
Hiring inclusively is not akin to hiring unqualified women, people of color, or LGBTQ+ automatically in preference to male, whites, or ‘straight’ individuals. Supporters of inclusive hiring have a common goal: a hiring process that recognizes and embraces diversity, a wide range of perspectives, and each candidate’s unique qualities to the organization.
Here is the thing; no one person is diverse. Diversity is not a character trait. Thus, inclusive hiring may include interviewing and interacting with people from different backgrounds with varying opinions, views, beliefs, and demographic characteristics.
Despite the increased popularity of diversity and inclusion initiatives, most companies still treat the idea as a series of boxes to tick by simply recruiting people from underrepresented populations. They forget that inclusion and diversity involve leveling the ground to allow equal consideration of all applicants and eliminate recruitment bias and potential discrimination in the hiring process.
And yes, inclusive hiring entails creating a culture where people feel included. Inclusion is about feeling; it involves improving how specific groups of people think about the work environment, including if they are listened to, understood, and how management and other employees behave towards them. Creating an organizational culture where all employees feel valued and appreciated is vital. Otherwise, what is the significance of employing people from diverse backgrounds or with various characteristics if they are unhappy with the workplace environment?
Why Does Inclusive Hiring Matter?
Creating an atmosphere that encourages representation and inclusivity means embracing different experiences, opinions, and values. A diverse and inclusive workforce pushes employees and management to think beyond their comfort zone and challenges new ideas and thoughts. As a result, the company can leverage the creativity, productivity, and skills brought by such a team to produce and deliver high-quality services and products that address the needs and expectations of the target consumers.
Consider the benefits of an inclusive hiring process:
Attracting and Retaining Diverse Talent
Companies that create inclusive workplaces often rank higher for diversity, thus gaining a good reputation as an employer and a brand—using diversity as a branding technique influences how current employees and prospective candidates perceive the organization. Professionals often prefer companies prioritizing diversity and inclusion since they know their skills, experiences, and inputs will be highly appreciated.
Increases Customer Base
Clients from different backgrounds feel welcome engaging with companies branded as inclusive and diverse, which can be a driving factor to do business with them over their competitors. Current generations, especially Millennials and Gen- Z’s, are more socially conscious than previous generations. As a result, they prefer purchasing from inclusive companies. Failure to integrate inclusion and diversity as core components of your business strategy can make you miss out on an opportunity to enhance your company’s profitability, increase your customer base, build strong customer relationships, and boost sales.
Improves Creativity and Innovation
Since inclusion and diversity means bringing together people from different backgrounds and characteristics, they are more likely to provide different perspectives, ideas, skills, and experiences that lead to higher innovation and creativity. Research shows that an inclusive culture leads to creativity and improves innovation by 20%, is twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets, is three times more likely to improve performance, is six times more likely to be innovative and agile, and is eight times more likely to result in improved business results. These positive outcomes are possible since solving complex challenges requires input from people with different knowledge and skills.
Eliminates Hiring Bias
We all have some unconscious biases. Let me repeat that: we all have some unconscious biases. The trouble sets in if they are left unchecked; they may influence our decision-making and get us into the traps of stereotypes.
Inclusion means embracing a multi-cultural workforce characterized by people with different personalities, skills, knowledge, and experiences from diverse backgrounds. Approaching the recruitment process with such a mindset helps eliminate unconscious bias that often draws recruiters to hire people with their preferred characteristics. In this case, recruiters screen candidates for the role by focusing on how they may be successful rather than why they can’t be successful.
The biggest challenge with bias is that it is often in our blind spot. Consider Implicit Association Tests (IAT) that help identify stereotypes, prejudices, and other group-based biases.
How to Hire Inclusively
We should always strive to do better by prioritizing creating an inclusive workplace culture as a long-term, ongoing goal. While it may seem challenging to achieve inclusivity and diversity in the hiring process, below are some best practices to consider when making your recruiting process more inclusive.
Define What Inclusion Means to Your Company
Inclusion can mean different things to different people. For example, some managers define inclusion as engaging people from underrepresented populations such as women, people of color, and people living with disabilities. Mary Martin, VP of Client Success at Equiliem, shared her stance on inclusive hiring, stating that “employers need to attract workers through belonging, inclusivity, and offering options to conduct work on different terms than in the past.” In this case, inclusivity involves creating a healthy working environment characterized by flexible working terms and employees’ sense of belonging. However, inclusion in hiring can also mean recruiting people with different abilities, cultural or life experiences, and talents. Defining what inclusion means to your organization is a crucial first step in your strategy.
Write Inclusive Job Descriptions
The language used in job descriptions can significantly influence the inclusivity of the recruiting process. For instance, jobs described using terms such as “competitive” and “strong” are more likely to attract male candidates, while those using words such as “support” and “share” are more likely to attract female candidates. Thus, it is recommendable to use gender-neutral descriptions and focus on the roles and responsibilities of the position.
Listen to Your Employees
Creating an inclusive workforce means understanding what employees want and what makes them feel comfortable. Listening to employees creates a safe environment to share their concerns and participate in strategic decision-making. This approach ensures that the promoted organizational culture matches employees’ thinking and expectations to increase satisfaction, motivation, and overall performance.
The inclusive hiring process should be an ongoing objective embedded in your organization’s core culture. It is important to ensure frequent review and improvement of the recruiting process to accommodate changes and newer viewpoints on inclusivity and diversity.
Dealing with lack of inclusivity isn’t glorious—it is tasking. It calls for dedicating additional time to do things in the right way.
Mercy Moses is a writer passionate about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), personal finance, investing, wealth management, and millennials and younger generations.
Equiliem (www.equiliem.com) believes in empowering success. It’s our job to cultivate relationships that connect people and employers in a way that is inclusive, intelligent, and allows both to thrive.
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