Hiring for Diversity

Tech NationTech Nation 4 min read

Hiring for diversity aims to bring new people from different backgrounds into your organisation. Hiring for diversity works best when approached with preparation and care. Note, however, that all recruitment decisions need to be based on hiring the best candidate as it is unlawful to select an inferior candidate solely because they fit within a specific D&I goal.

For instance, by spending time on the structural elements of your business, such as, understanding your D&I data, culture and the employee lifecycle. It’s important to prepare the workplace environment to be more inclusive. If it isn’t, hiring for diversity will increase churn and create false ‘proof’ that diversity doesn’t work. 

For further information about D&I in tech take a look at the reports and initiatives below:

  • TechUK’s Skills and Diversity Council –  It aims to support the wider D&I agenda in the tech sector by providing concrete steps to help the UK develop skills for the modern economy and address skills gaps. The Council brings together some of the most influential networks and people working across the industry to champion diversity in tech, relating to: gender, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, neurodiversity and social mobility. 
  • UKBlackTech – UKBlackTech is on a mission to help make the UK the most ethnically diverse tech ecosystem in the world. They are working to see equity, transparency and representation at decision-making level in tech and pushing for tech services, tools and organisations to reflect their employees plus the communities they are trying to serve.
  • Next Tech Girls – launched in early 2016 in response to the lack of women working in technology, they also proactively target skilled professionals from minority groups.

In the UK, support for D&I in tech can be seen from the Mayor of London Digital Talent Programme. With a funding budget of £7 million, there is potential for the diversity in the tech talent pool to increase as a result of the doors this initiative opens for young people in the UK. 

Hiring for Diversity checklist

  • Be transparent about your D&I efforts: when you’re ready to bring new people in, it’s important to be transparent about your D&I efforts. Some job boards actively encourage candidates to seek out diverse and inclusive employers, so you could miss out on some of the best candidates if they can’t see what you’re doing.
  • Look at the language you are using in your job ads and job descriptions objectively: Will it lead to certain groups screening themselves out? Research shows that when applying for jobs, women feel they need to meet 100% of the application criteria, whilst men usually feel comfortable applying after meeting only 60%. Roles with endless lists of requirements can therefore deter women from applying as they often want to make sure they tick every box. Focusing on the performance objectives of the role and what the person will be expected to accomplish gives candidates a more realistic idea of the job and attracts people with non-traditional skill sets and experiences. Run your job description through this gender decoder that will highlight whether there is any bias within your description. Use Textio to analyse your language and create a culture of belonging. 
  • Rethink the way you review CVs and the questions you ask at the interview stage: Focus on the performance objectives of the role and what the person will be expected to accomplish. For example, is having a degree or multiple years of experience imperative to being able to do the job, or could the key responsibilities be learned within a few months of training? 
  • Take advantage of remote working opportunities to expand your pool of candidates: Remote working policies can give a company access to a wider and more geographically diverse workforce. It can also open up an organisation to employees who are unable to commute on a daily basis, such as those with disabilities or caring responsibilities. Read the inclusive work environment section for more information on this. 
  • Work with D&I technology to help at the point of recruitment and secondary/final checks: Keep in mind the risks of algorithmic and AI biases. Read the Product section for further detail on AI bias.  
    • Snap.hr uses AI and machine learning technology to automate the hiring process, cutting out the potential for human bias to appear. 
    • HireVue uses AI to analyse candidates’ facial movements, tone of voice and word choice in order to assess suitability for a role, thereby reducing unconscious and conscious human bias associated with traditional ways of recruiting, such as scanning CVs for years of experience and University education.
  • Encourage employees to aid diverse recruitment: Encourage team members to recommend diverse networks, communities or job boards to connect with. Encouraging existing employees to specifically look for potential candidates from diverse backgrounds can help widen your candidate pool considerably.
  • Make use of targeted networks: Targeted networks like Facebook groups and job boards which focus on diversity can help you find groups of people you wouldn’t reach through traditional recruitment channels. Job board and groups to consider are:
  • Connect with companies that are working to tackle diversity issues: companies like Tech Stars are focused on hiring diverse talent, and offer office tours and day work experience with their cohorts to show what it’s like to work in a tech company.  
  • Enhance recruitment marketing to attract and convert a more diverse talent pool: 69% of Gen Z-ers said they would “absolutely” be more likely to apply for a job in which recruiters and materials were representative of a diverse workplace, while some would even turn down a job that didn’t meet that standard (Tallo, 2020). If you work with recruiters, demand that their candidates are from a broad talent pool and push them to present a diverse shortlist.

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