Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: how to put an end to recruitment bias?

Whether we like it or not, subjectivity impacts the recruitment process and cognitive biases can sometimes give way to discrimination when choosing new talent.

However, the majority of companies do not seem to take measures to deal with this problem, even though tools exist. Within a company, diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) begins even before the integration of a new recruit: the first stage begins with equal opportunities in the recruitment process. And in this area, the margin of progress is very important. Indeed, while 65% of French companies say they are committed to diversity in recruitment, less than half of companies say they actively maintain a plan that describes and allows this objective to be monitored. [1].

Many companies are still struggling to translate their ambition for more inclusive teams into effective strategies for attracting and selecting diverse talent. They face various recurring problems that are difficult to solve, such as a lack of communication with potential candidates about their intention to open up to more diversity. Also, it is common to observe that these companies do not capitalize enough on the synergies between the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) teams, the teams in charge of talent acquisition and those responsible for marketing. Finally, an HR decision maker often does not have a precise method to define his recruitment diversification objectives.

The place of AI in the objectification of recruitment

To reduce recruitment bias, most employers seek to know the best practices to adopt, especially since the field of possibilities is particularly wide. Often criticized, Artificial Intelligence (AI), well configured, can be a valuable aid in diversifying recruitment. For example, this technology can identify possible transfers of skills between two professions on the basis of similar experiences, and constitutes a first lever for better identifying atypical profiles. In addition, AI can help mitigate these biases of favoring candidates who look like us. The tool will notably examine the job posting to look for possible elements of discriminatory language, or set aside information on gender, ethnicity, name or age, during the first stages of the process. recruitment.

While this tool can prove to be a powerful ally for recruiters, it is not enough to eliminate all sources of discrimination. Internal awareness and training are essential. Companies know that it is by becoming aware of their own biases that they can be successfully mitigated. Moreover, 54% of French companies would offer in-house training to their executives in order to make them aware of DEI’s recruitment policies.

Against discrimination, 4 levers are to be mobilized

If the elements mentioned are a first step towards diversity, equity and inclusion, companies have every interest in setting up fair recruitment processes, making it possible to really objectify all the criteria that weigh on the choice of the candidate. For this, several strategies and actions can be considered and adopted according to the needs and operations of the company.

Take, for example, standard maintenance procedures. It involves asking the same questions to all candidates for a position, questions that would be based solely on the criteria dependent on that position. This seems simple and obvious, but above all it allows the recruiter to eliminate any risk of mentioning personal differences that could generate bias. Another possibility, quite well known in particular via CVs, is that of blind applications. Here again, the objective is to remove any mention of elements that could trigger discrimination, conscious or not, such as the candidate’s surname, photo or address.

Recruiters and HR professionals often use this third method: the focus on the level of skills. Today, many recruiters know that the diploma and professional background do not (always) provide the skills sought. Thus, it is indeed the portfolio of hard skills and soft skills that is crucial in the match between a candidate and a position. Through this prism – through exercises, simulations or even specific questions – this is undoubtedly the most effective way to reduce bias. Finally, there remains the involvement of employees from diverse backgrounds. They are in the best position to know the limits of their company’s recruitment process and pinpoint unconscious biases. The fact of associating them with the preparation of the interviews will make it possible to better objectify the criteria by ensuring that the questions asked are not discriminatory.

However, if these methods prove to be profitable, they can only be really effective if they benefit from the full and complete support of the recruiters themselves. Their active involvement is indeed essential to set up and maintain an objective, transparent and coherent recruitment process.

More and more companies are making progress: 60% of French companies say they are committed to equal pay and working conditions, regardless of gender, age or religion. However, much remains to be done to eliminate all recruitment biases.

The priority is to lay the foundations of a solid foundation, and this through an objectification of all the criteria sought for a position and their translation into skills. This is how the employer will give itself every chance of recruiting the best talent for the position offered. He will also be able to initiate a quality employee HR experience for new recruits.

[1] iVox study conducted in February and March 2022 in 13 European countries with 4371 companies

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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: how to put an end to recruitment bias?

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