How To Harness Data In D&I Focused Recruitment

2020 might be immortalized as the year of a global pandemic, but more importantly, it’s the year where diversity and inclusion are being seen as a necessity instead of just fulfilling some organizational criteria. 

The past few months have brought the social injustice that black people face to the forefront every day. This singular event has kickstarted a global response where the way we view, treat, and behave towards underrepresented groups (or URGs) in our day-to-day lives- especially at the workplaces- has come under scrutiny. 

As CEOs and leaders of major brands and organizations are scrambling to demonstrate how inclusive their organizations genuinely are, we must focus on the starter phase where most companies already fail D&I-focused recruitment. 

The Hidden Problem With Hiring Out Of The Box

As humans, we are conditioned to seek out people who look, sound, and behave like ourselves. It’s a form of pack mentality where we connect better with individuals who look like ourselves. This need usually makes itself known in the form of “unconscious bias,” where you discriminate against someone based on their differences from us unknowingly. 

When we talk about diversity hiring, recruiters like to portray or rather believe that every possible candidate is being treated equally. But here’s the thing- you probably aren’t being as inclusive in your hiring efforts as you think. 

Even the simple effort of posting a seemingly innocuous job description might be ultimately hampering your diversity efforts. Some companies believe diversity hiring to be as simple as posting these said job descriptions to a broader talent pool and don’t anticipate the curveball that comes with it. 

Remember the thing about connecting with similar people that we talked about earlier? This same principle applies to the candidate who reads through the job description as well.

The language, pronouns, and tone used in the job description can significantly impact whether the diverse applicant you are aiming for becomes intrigued, correlates, and eventually applies for the job role.

To put it in a simpler perspective, it is not about casting a wider net while focusing your efforts on hiring a diverse workforce. It is about casting multiple smaller nets targeted to specific groups of people.

How Data Enables Better D&I Hiring

Data is undoubtedly the digital currency for any organization in today’s scenario. Collecting and analyzing the right set of data can uncover the fundamental patterns, trends, and outliers that are impacting the everyday business processes. 

When it comes to D&I-based recruitment, companies tend to follow what others are doing instead of harnessing the power of data. Doing things the same way will only yield mediocre results since no two organizations are the same and thus require diverse solutions as well. 

Companies need to redesign their D&I strategy as per their requirements and take a systematic approach towards driving necessary changes. Undoubtedly, data plays a vital part in ensuring that your hiring process remains fair, equitable, and bias-free. 

The most effective way to do so is to collect direct feedback from not only the intended audience but also your employees as well. Your own organization’s minority employees will often be able to highlight the problems and barriers of entry with your D&I-based recruitment process that they faced or noticed.

Finding The Right Driver Of Talents

Irrespective of who the candidates are, it’s essential to understand what organizational factors will act pivotal in attracting the right candidates.

The drivers of talents towards your organization might vary drastically depending on the individual. Multiple factors such as academic background, earning potential, living conditions, and even the company culture can influence a candidate’s decision to join an organization.

A person who came from a privileged background would have the liberty to take up a job role that prioritizes innovation. In contrast, it is often seen among underrepresented minority groups that a high earning factor or professional development might be a more significant motivator. 

Data can be paramount in uncovering the difference in motivators that diverse groups of people seek. It can prove beneficial for you to customize the delivery methods and the messages that a diverse group of candidates receives from your organization. Inviting the job applicants to take part in a survey is a cost-effective option to gather the relevant feedback but will limit the data of people who didn’t apply. A possible but more expensive way of remedying this problem might be to attach some form of incentives to a poll targeting your intended pool of candidates. 

Uncover Demographic Constraints 

One major mistake that organizations might be making in their D&I-based hiring process is not considering the existence of subgroups. Even among minority groups, some sub-demographics are often overlooked in D&I hiring strategies. 

For instance, organizations tend to group all women as a single demographic without considering the implications of Black, Latina, or Asian women. An organization might portray that it has an X percentage of female employees on paper, but it becomes quickly evident that the actual diversity percentage is relatively low. Even in companies with larger workforce, such as Google, only 0.5% are black women

For hiring specific purposes, using the right data tools and techniques can help you go beyond the larger demographic and model your hiring efforts towards the minority subgroups as well. An effective way to track such data is by:

  • Introducing specific sub-group demographics in your hiring plan
  • Calculating the percentage of sub-demographics that respond to a job advertisement
  • Calculating the ratio of the sub demographic to the main demographic group that applies for a job role
  • Calculating the ratio of sub-demographic who gets selected to the total number of applicants 

Limited data provides you with only a sample of what your intended diverse audience feels. Accumulation of such datasets is more pivotal to your future D&I plan than your present. With larger and varied data analysis, you can work towards a hiring plan that takes data-driven decisions instead of arbitrary ones. 

Track Sources

Another convenience that data brings is to track the job applicants’ sources- be it the place where they saw the job advertisement, the medium through which they applied, or the person who referred them to your organization. 

Such data presents you with a clearer picture of your market visibility and the best mediums and tactics to use while targeting your intended audience. It will ensure that you can determine the sources that bring in a higher rate of diverse applicants and analyze your candidate-reach strategy’s strengths and weaknesses.

Analyzing Your New Hire Data

Over time as you accumulate a significant amount of data, you will be better equipped to understand the unconscious biases that influence your hiring decisions. Like it or not, a considerable part of your recruitment process is governed by people and is hence open to discriminatory practices. Interestingly, not even automation is exempt from discriminating as the Amazon hiring fiasco displayed where the AI recruiting tool was “taught” by discriminatory datasets to bias against women candidates. Thus, analyzing your hiring data and identifying any problem areas makes it increasingly crucial in diversity recruitment. 

It is often difficult to gauge the effectiveness of your D&I hiring process without the input of the parties concerned. Be it your own gathered data evaluation model or in the form of onboarding feedback, the data after a diverse hire joins the organization is as essential as the pre-hire data analysis. 

Take, for instance, an organization that shows an admirable diversity hire percentage. But do these diversity hires leave the organization less than a year? Do the new hires rarely pitch in their own ideas? Are they showing a high rate of absenteeism? 

While the above problems might not be seen as a diversity hire problem per se, poor engagement levels can adversely affect employee advocacy, brand value, and ultimately the number of diverse candidates opting to apply for a job role. 

Any useful employee survey tools will help you determine the level of employee engagement in your organization and the factors that negatively affect job satisfaction. Additionally, most survey tools give you the feature of analyzing the demographic-wise engagement score. 

Utilizing such data tools to pinpoint the reasons for turnover can be monumental in designing an inclusive employee experience that, in turn, portrays your organization as being diversity-friendly. 

Summing It Up

The right data used at the right time can help you design the ideal D&I recruitment strategy for your organization. It is a matter of consistent accumulation, analysis, and application that’ll help you scrape off the ineffective measures and instead optimize the effective ones. 

About the Author

Anjan Pathak is the Co-Founder & CTO of Vantage Circle, a cloud-based employee engagement platform, and Vantage Fit, an all-in-one corporate wellness platform. He is an HR technology enthusiast, very passionate about employee wellness, and actively participates in corporate culture growth. He is an avid reader and likes to be updated on the latest know-how of Human Resources.

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