IT Diversity Crisis: Why you should make your hiring process truly blind
By Fay Capstick
We have seen the scale of the IT diversity problems and how the industry leans towards employing male-gendered white staff. Now we present the first of our solutions to the crisis, which is to make your hiring process truly blind.
You can’t fix a diversity problem if you have hiring practices that prevent good candidates from making it past the initial selection process. I think you should consider methods to make the process as blind to biases as possible.
One way is to point out that the experience and skill set required for a role is open to flexibility. This should be clearly stated on the job advertisement. This way candidates who might not have gone to the best universities or have a set number of years’ experience can feel comfortable applying for the job in the first place. You’d be surprised how off-putting some job adverts can feel to minority candidates.
Studies show that women aren’t usually comfortable applying for a job unless they have all of the skills listed. Men don’t seem to have the same concerns and are more likely to wing it, having confidence that they can obtain the skills needed(1). Applicants should be encouraged to apply if they think the role is something they could perform well at. Interestingly, applying a male mindset to job hunting can bring results for women, so it could be an issue of confidence(2). However, as recruiters, we get a huge volume of CVs submitted, and one clearly not matching the criteria is at risk of being immediately screened out. If, as we predict, AI starts to play a bigger role in recruitment, then there is the risk that CVs that don’t meet computer-decided criteria might be simply filtered out. Therefore as recruiters, we can help to ensure that the best people are given the chance to succeed.
Disabled people can be deterred by job descriptions that stress the long hours or travel involved in a role. Being committed and a hard worker shouldn’t mean having to physically exhaust yourself; that doesn’t prove anything. Having an option to work part time, from home, job share or with some flexibility would help encourage people like me, who simply can’t manage a full workload but have all the skills, to apply and thus achieve their potential. Many jobs can be done from home, such as Developers and Programmers. Virtual meetings and fibre broadband mean that office time can be lessened without any drop in productivity, and for some, working from home brings a greater level of productivity. Obviously, some jobs simply cannot be done from home, and candidates should think accordingly before they apply if they face limitations.
Make it clear in your advert that you welcome disabled and disadvantaged applicants. Don’t simply pay lip service; rather, say how you can help achieve this. For example, ‘We welcome disabled applicants and will happily accommodate all disabilities, visible and invisible.’ The aim is to give potential applicants confidence in your company to work with them.
We can also all be guilty of making assumptions based on someone’s name, as this can sometimes give clues to gender, ethnic origin or social status. Addresses can give clues to wealth and class too. Ages can introduce bias, but obviously age brings experience, so this can work both ways. Schools attended can also provide hints that could lead to unconscious biases. Obviously, CVs can’t be stripped of all details, but in bigger companies, having a selection process where names are removed can start to level the playing field. The scary thing is that these biases are things that no hiring manager would admit to, and might have no real knowledge of, however ‘woke’ they think they are being. We can all play our part in helping alleviate the lack of diversity in IT through making our hiring process truly blind and open.