Do you need diversity recruiting software to improve diversity?
Whilst it may make your job easier, you can make real change without any specific tech.
Improving diversity doesn't have to be an expensive - there are simple, proven practices you can use that will result in tangible diversity gains.
By reducing unconscious bias and testing directly for skills, diversity will improve.
When we set out to build the Applied Platform, the first thing we did was look at the research...
What has actually been proven to work?
Although using diversity recruiting software like ours will undoubtedly save you time and make things like reporting and feedback much easier, all of the core practices we use can be implemented manually, without using our platform.
Organizations using our process tend to see:
- Up to 4x attraction and selection of ethnically diverse candidates
- 3x as many suitable candidates
- 66% reduction in time spent hiring
- 93% retention rate after one year
- 9/10 average candidate experience rating
1. Are your job descriptions inclusive?
You don’t need a diversity recruiting platform to write better job descriptions…
Everything from the words you use to the number of requirements you list can have a real, measurable impact on who applies.
So by simply optimising these for diversity, you should see tangible results without spending anything whatsoever.
One of the first things to consider is requirements.
Asking for specific years of experience or ‘redbrick’ university degrees will narrow your pool to a specific type of candidate.
Those from disadvantaged backgrounds will be less likely to have these credentials and so won’t apply.
When it comes to the rest of your requirements, only list the skills that are genuinely needed for the job - and consider ditching ‘nice to haves’ completely.
People will rule themselves out if they don’t think they can meet your laundry list of requirements.
If gender diversity is an issue, you’ll also want to avoid excessive gendered language.
Certain words are subconsciously associated with a particular gender. By writing more gender-neutral job descriptions, you’ll be able to attract a more even gender split.
A few of the masculine-coded terms you’ll want to avoid:
The final thing to consider is reading burden - how difficult is it to read?
The reading burden shouldn’t be any higher than the level needed for the job itself.
Unless you’re hiring someone who will be writing a lot, you’ll probably want to keep your language simple and use short sentences.
2. Make applications anonymous
Things like someone’s name, gender and age can all affect how we perceive their ability.
It doesn’t matter how good your intentions are, all humans are prone to biases.
Simply being made aware of these biases doesn’t change outcomes.
We have to design bias out of our hiring processes if we want to genuinely improve diversity.
Since we can’t train ourselves to be less biased, the most effective means of masking hiring fairer is to anonymize applications altogether.
Start by anonymizing basic identifying information such as names, photos, dates of birth and addresses.
Whilst many organizations are currently anonymizing applications manually (either digitally or using a marker pen the old fashioned way), this process is something that a diversity recruiting platform would speed up significantly.
If you’re going to be making the purchase, make sure the platform you choose has some form of anonymization feature - bias is something that is left unchecked, will seriously harm diversity.
3. Use skill-based assessments
Hiring people based on background won’t help your diversity initiative - no matter what diversity recruiting software you use to do it.
We know that those from disadvantaged backgrounds will find it harder to attend top universities and therefore get the best looking experience.
And since people from certain ethnic minorities are more likely to be living in relative poverty, filtering candidates by background only perpetuates these systemic issues.
Education and experience are proxies for skills.
We use them to make semi-informed assumptions about how well someone might perform on the job.
However, testing for skills means that we don’t have to make any assumptions at all.
The Applied Platform uses ‘work samples’ to assess candidates.
Work samples take scenarios that would realistically occur in the role and turn them into hypothetical tasks.
This isn’t just a fairer way of hiring but also a more predictive one.
How well someone answers a work sample question is more strongly correlated with future job performance than how many years they’ve worked or where they went to university.
The ides behind work samples is to get candidates to perform small parts of the job before actually getting it.
Rather than guessing how someone would perform based on background, they offer candidates a chance to show you what they can do.
Work samples are 3x more predictive than CVs… and we found that +60% of people hired this way would’ve been overlooked via a traditional process.
To incorporate work samples into your hiring process without a complete overhaul, we’d recommend using 3-5 work samples alongside CVs to start off with.
We tend to see organizations gradually ditch CVs when they see the shortlisting decisions they would’ve made without the use of work samples.
4. Know what you’re looking for
In a world where candidates viewed first tend to be perceived more favorably, a single attribute can overshadow an entire application, it's important to give yourself set criteria to score against.
By giving every interview and screening question answer a number score, you’ll be able to build an objective candidate leaderboard.
Your scoring criteria doesn’t need to be overly elaborate. You’re just giving yourself a rough rubric to judge against.
Below you can see what reviewing looks like using Applied.
As you can see, your scoring criteria can be as simple as a few bullet points and a 1-5 star scale.
For the most fair, accurate scores, have three team members score candidates (we use 3-person interview panels at Applied).
Having multiple reviewers will average our any biases, and collective scores will generally be more accurate than that of an individual.
So what are the benefits of a diversity recruiting platform like Applied?
When it comes to send invites, manage your hiring team, build questions, and scheduling interviews using something like Applied will centralise all of this and save you a significant amount of time - especially if you're going to be anonymizing candidates manually!
This won't improve your diversity but will free up time to spend on what matters.
Fully debiased process
The practices above will reduce bias - but won't account for ordering affects and lesser known biases.
Applied differs from your typical diversity recruiting platform since it has been built specifically to remove as much bias is possible.
Candidates' answers are sliced up and randomized so that no application is ever viewed in its entirety and everyone gets a fair and even shot to showcase their skills.
Whilst it may not work as quickly as something like quotas of positive action, reducing bias is a sustainable, evidence-backed means of boosting diversity.
Below you can see how we review applications using Applied - a process you're welcome to copy!
Diversity analytics and reporting
Collecting and reporting on diversity metrics is something that would be fairly tricky without specialist software.
Although by no means impossible, managing candidates over several roles and manually copying over their details/scores would be extremely time consuming.
Collecting data like we do isn't necessary to make an impact on diversity. What is will help you do, however, is report back on your success and optimize your process so that any drop-offs can be flagged and addressed.
If you want to take a stab at diversity data collection on your own, you can see our equal opportunities form here.
What software like ours will do is gather diversity data (only from those who consent), and then track the progress of all demographics over the course of the process. This means you'll be able to see which job boards, questions or even reviewers are best at identifying the best, most diverse set of candidates.
When it comes to diversity, employer branding is often overlooked.
If you can have even unsuccessful candidates recommending your organization based on your hiring process alone, half of the work is already done!
This sounds too good to be true but is very much possible.
Beyond using skill-based assessments, feedback is they key to a candiate experience people will genuinely appreciate and talk about.
Giving feedback at all will put you ahead of your competitors but we believe in going the extra mile...
Every Applied candidate gets objective, personalized feedback based on their performance over the course of the assessment process.
By scoring answers against the skills needed for the job, we can give candidates a real sense of how they did and how they could improve.
This is doable without our platform - you can get our Candidate Feedback Template here.
However, using Applied, all feedback will be generated automatically, so all you have to do is hit send!
Conclusion: do you need diversity recruiting software?
Some of the most impactful steps towards your diversity goals can be taken for free.
We know this impossible because there are organizations using our practices to improve diversity as we speak.
The real question is: have you and your team got time to undertake the manual work needed to make them successful?
Yes, things like anonymization and skill-based assessments are free to do...
But they also require a hefty amount of manual work to do properly.
If you're a very small team with low volumes of candidates, you're probably best off striking out on your own.
Start by anomymizing, using work samples and have a scoring rubric in place.
If, on the other hand, you have 50+ employees and are hiring for a lot of roles, using a diversity recruiting platform (whether it's us or not) will cut admin time and keep all of your data in one place, as well as ensuring that the best possible person is hired for every role.
Applied is the essential platform for debiased hiring. Purpose-built to make hiring empirical and ethical, our platform uses anonymized applications and skill-based assessments to identify talent that would otherwise have been overlooked.
Push back against conventional hiring wisdom with a smarter solution: book in a demo