4 Ways to Focus on DEI in Recruiting
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a hot-button topic in our increasingly connected world. As an HR leader in a global vacation rental (VR) company, Beyond, I can attest that from the recent #seacabo movement in Spain to Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. bringing international attention to racial injustice, conversations about DEI are consistently happening both inside and outside the workplace.
Employees and customers increasingly want to know what organizations are doing to ensure that diversity is valued, that company systems and policies support equitability, and that everyone feels included. The company I work for, Beyond, is made up of a diverse group of global individuals who serve a diverse group of global customers, so we feel that it is imperative that our company culture values DEI.
While we are still far from perfect in our DEI efforts, recruiting is one area where we have made significant strides by implementing DEI best practices that can be replicated in any company in the VR industry.
There are four specific ways that we have learned to focus on DEI in recruiting:
1. Set a Goal and Communicate It
As with any business objective, achieving recruiting success in DEI starts with setting a goal and communicating it. That goal could be hiring a woman into an all-male leadership team or increasing the number of bilingual employees to support bilingual customers. The important part is to know what you want to achieve and to communicate that goal to the broader company. While this might feel uncomfortable at first, it helps to ensure accountability and action.
Here is a pro tip if you are still unsure about public communication: If the goal is to increase representation in a specific area, the opinion of the underrepresented group should carry the most weight when determining whether or not to publicly communicate the goal. Also, once a goal has been set and communicated, people will also want to know whether the goal has been met or not, so plan to report on your progress along the way as well.
2. Words Matter
Studies have shown that words used in job postings can increase, or decrease, your chances of receiving qualified applicants. There are many paid and free tools that will review the text of a job posting and suggest revisions to words to make them more inclusive. Our process is to run job postings through the free online Gender Decoder tool to ensure we are not accidentally turning away qualified job applicants.
It is important to acknowledge that the tool reviews for gender bias are specific to the English language. Other languages may have structures that follow binary gender types and are therefore unable to be changed without sounding grammatically incorrect. Additionally, if your job posting passes the gender decoder but still uses slang or terms that are not widely understood by different generations or non-native speakers of the language, you may still be unintentionally narrowing your qualified job applicant pool.
3. Provide the Best Candidate Experience
News travels fast in this day and age.
An important recruiting best practice in a hyperconnected world is to provide a high-quality candidate experience. The same people who are applying for jobs at your company may be your future customers or may be part of a network that includes your future hires. If job candidates feel they are treated with disrespect or disinterest during the evaluation process, you risk turning away your future customers or shutting yourself off from an entire network of qualified job candidates that someone could refer to your company. Even if you quickly decide that someone is not going to be a match for your job, it’s important to maintain high standards for every candidate’s experience.
To further illustrate this point, we once had a job candidate that we ultimately decided was not a match for the role, and we provided that feedback to the candidate. That person was so impressed with how they were treated throughout the evaluation process that they still referred someone in their network for the position, and we ended up hiring their referral!
Another point to consider in the candidate experience is how candidates might view themselves in relation to your company as they progress through the evaluation process. Think of this as the candidate equivalent to posting enticing photos of your rental listings on your website; you want your potential customers to be able to picture themselves having a fabulous time visiting your beautiful property. You also want job candidates to be able to picture themselves fitting in at your company.
If a job candidate doesn’t find people they can connect with during the evaluation process, they are more likely to drop out, or, even worse, turn down your job offer. As an example, imagine a job candidate who is a parent with school-age children at home. The candidate is only provided with interview times that conflict with school drop-off, and all of the employees who interview the candidate talk about how they like to work late and then go to dinner together at 9 p.m. While a “child-free” culture might be intentional and perfectly acceptable for that company, it’s less likely they’ll be able to diversify and hire a working parent with a candidate experience like that.
4. Standardize Candidate Evaluations
We all have biases that inform our world view and help us to make decisions. Sometimes those biases are helpful, and sometimes they are harmful. One common biased viewpoint is that a college degree is required to be a successful worker. However, big name employers have moved away from requiring college degrees for some jobs. From my professional experience with high-performing employees of all education levels, a college degree does not improve someone’s ability to be successful. In order to maximize the number of qualified applicants for any job and minimize biases that naturally occur in the evaluation process, consider standardizing candidate evaluations in the following ways:
- Blind resumes – This is a technique where personal identifying information, such as a candidate’s name, address, year of graduation, or school information, is removed from a resume. The idea is that it reduces an evaluator’s bias by ensuring they decide whether a candidate is qualified for the job based only on the candidate’s listed experience and skills.
- Consistent processes – Having a consistent evaluation process helps candidates know what to expect and ensures maximum efficiency of the evaluation process, in addition to reducing bias. Not only that, but having a clear process helps provide a better candidate experience because you can clearly communicate to a candidate what they can expect in the evaluation process.
- Questions + scorecards – Having a set list of questions and standard scoring for each evaluator can help reduce biases by ensuring that evaluators are focused only on what matters to being successful in the job. It’s very easy for an evaluator to mark a candidate as “must hire” because they like the person, and we tend to like people who are just like us! But this affinity bias is a trap. Even though a candidate seems like your long-lost twin, it does not mean they will be good at the job. Having a set list of questions and scorecard for each evaluator can reduce that bias and instead focus on what’s important to success in the job.
Hopefully you’ve found these tips valuable in helping to improve your recruiting best practices to be more diverse, equitable and inclusive. Remember, DEI work never ends, and change won’t happen overnight, but DEI goals can be met with consistency, accountability, and being intentional in your efforts!