I feel that in most quarters of the staffing, recruiting and talent space there is a general acknowledgement that the traditional ways of hiring are far from ideal and that they have led and continue to lead us to a place of inequality and inefficiency.
More and more we see new talent tech embracing more than just key word searches, tick boxing of essential and desirable skills and moving away from an individual review/interview perspective.
We need to build a better world, and find a fair way to allow talent to rise to the top on merit and ability, and not be restricted and shackled by conscious and unconscious bias. We need to not just follow convention and start to apply consistent fairer process that places empirical evidence, data science and real insight into talent acquisition.
We need to do what’s right, be fair and move towards being consciously inclusive. It’s one of the reasons that a business that I am involved in Level= came into existence in 2021.
The old process is broken
Hands up who’s bias? I am, and it's just part of being human and we should not deny it but embrace it and be aware of it. My bias, like very many peoples is unconscious, and therein lays the issue with traditional recruiting methods, as humans gravitate to the familiar and we are prone to making quick judgements based on background & physical attributes, skewing our judgement.
Understanding bias, the different forms of bias and actually acknowledging that we can all be prone to bias is a key starting point that I’d like to touch on and the fact that traditional hiring methods are prone to bias, which is why we must change and evolve.
From confirmation bias (seeking affirmation of our own opinions/ideas) to affinity bias (being draw to those similar to ourselves) and also perception bias (making group based assumptions and stereotyping), and other bias besides… they all exist and need addressing, but how?
This isn’t a white paper, but there has been extensive research done across the globe by much smarter people than I, and the results and consistent reality are startling, ad in just one small section around of studies around application and ethnicity, then its quite revealing:
In a ethnicity and religious bias study (Weichselbaumer 2016) conducted in 2016 in Germany showed how the name and the photo on the application - influenced a candidate’s likelihood of getting an interview. They randomly assigned 1,500 real employers to receiving an (otherwise identical) application from Sandra Bauer, Meryem Ӧztürk, or Meryem Ӧztürk when she was wearing a headscarf. The names were specifically chosen to evoke either a person with a German heritage (Sandra Bauer) or Turkish heritage (Meryem Ӧztürk). The results speak volumes; Sandra was invited to interview 19% of the time, Meryem (no headscarf) was invited to interview 14% of the time and Meryem (with headscarf) was invited to interview 4% of the time
A study (Bertrand & Mullainathan 2003) conducted in the US looked at bias linked to people’s names, it found; They sent out identical resumes to randomly chosen job opportunities changing only the name on the application, White sounding names got one interview opportunity for every 10 applications, Ethnic Minority sounding names received one interview for every 15 applications. So people with Ethnic Minority sounding names had to apply for 50% more roles to get an interview than people with White sounding names.
A study by BBCs inside out with Bristol University (Modood 2017) conducted in the UK also looked at bias linked to names and the results were even more startling having sent 100 job applications in with a cv from Adam and the same cv from Mohamed, Adam had a 12% success rate compared to Mohamed
A 2019 study (Centre for Social Investigation, Oxford University) looking at ethnicity found that candidates from minority ethnic backgrounds had to send 80% more applications to get the same results as a White-British person
So are things improving slowly? Sadly not, as a meta-analysis conducted over 50 years of studies (L. Quillian et al 2017) show very little shift in racial discrimination over time.
Got to be more inclusive.
To have genuine inclusivity you need to be consciously inclusive, that require a radically different approach to the norm. As mentioned earlier “We need to not just follow convention and start to apply consistent fairer process that places empirical evidence, data science and real insight into talent acquisition.”
It’s proven that education and experience are not the best predictors of ability and future performance and that anything between 20% and 35% of individuals falsify aspects of their resume, and whilst much is over polishing and exaggeration a decent chuck is fabrication. Couple these facts with what’s already been touched on around name/identity and the fact that its well evidenced that initial CV reviews can be as little as <10 seconds, then surely its time to change?
Detailed CV reviewing also leads to bias, not just the ones mentioned earlier but is also susceptible to things such as halo effect (eg, having gained experience at a business that positively resonates with the reviewer compared to the same experience gained at a different, less glamorous entity). So redacting information from the resume will help remove bias, such as concealing age/dob to remove age discrimination, removing ethnicity/name/photo will help reduce race discrimination, not having viability of gender will start dealing with that issue… but there is some much more on a cv such as level of education & education establishment where qualification was gained (they got a 2:1 from Oxbridge as opposed to a local less prestigious establishment), address (do they live in the smart end of town or on the council estate), remove hobbies and interests (oh look they support the same football team as me, I like them already) and its goes on and on.
Education and experience can be relevant and important but to put this front and centre could be a mistake, as it’s been well researched and documented that consistent Pre-screening questionnaires, work scenario/situation questions, cognitive ability testing, use of structured interviews are all ranked as better at predicting ability than education and experience.
I don’t think that the CV will cease to exist this year or next, as people change and adapt to change slowly, but what I do see around the whole recruiting, staffing, and talent space is a lot of change coming with a positive shift to:
using the CV later down the line to support the process and it not being the be all and end all that it has been historically and is so currently
an improved use of questioning based on skills and ability, not background experience and education
more relevant and nuanced testing and assessment
Improved consistency of process with use of scoring and ranking
decision making moving from an individual hiring manager and more constructing use of diverse panels
a much improved candidate journey with detailed and constructive feedback
big increase in use of data, specifically D&I data to measure inclusivity and to be able to demonstrate rigour in the talent acquisition process
a bigger move towards culture fit as a key driver for both employer and candidate
We've a long way to go to see talent acquisition become truly inclusive, and there's so much more i want to and will share in future talent acquisition blogs on; social mobility, sustainability, ongoing discrimination, lack of appreciation and understanding of neurodiversity, lack of progress in hiring of people with disability, the challenge of hidden disability... so hope to see you back here soon for these and more and feel free to reach out and connect