President, CEO of P3 INC (Pereless Systems); Applicant Tracking & Recruitment Technology.
As the CEO of a company serving the HR industry for 20 years, I have witnessed several shifts of technological innovations that change how recruiters hire. The latest change is the focus on diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategies in the workplace with the recruitment industry at the forefront.
Diversity and inclusion represented in company culture — or the lack thereof — is nothing new. In recent years, however, it has become a priority for hiring teams to source talent in response to social issues that demand change. In the age of the “fourth industrial revolution,” technology has the strength and capability to solve this problem. The first step: to recognize a problem exists and to become educated with solutions that promote better hiring.
In 2018, the D&I technology space had a global market value of $100 million and growing. Start-ups and smaller companies were the majority of vendors with 43% of technology solutions focused on talent sourcing and 26% focused on analytics. Using advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and natural language processing, innovators are highlighting issues of bias that are not always apparent in order to apply solutions that focus on talent sourcing.
It starts with a job listing. One of the main goals for recruiters is to create a job description that attracts a large talent pool of qualified individuals. Recent studies reveal that specific language used in job descriptions can dissuade certain groups of people from applying to jobs. This can result in a company culture that lacks inclusiveness and diversity.
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A study published by the University of Waterloo and Duke University, for example, commented: “Social dominance theory contends that institutional-level mechanisms exist that reinforce and perpetuate existing group-based inequalities,” and continued that “gendered wording” associated with gender stereotypes can lead to an unconscious inequality at scale.
Using job ads as an example, descriptions for male-dominated industries such as programming and engineering included “masculine words” in job listings that subconsciously discouraged qualified women from applying. Words such as “leader” and “dominate” were likely to cause candidates to perceive the occupation as male-dominated, resulting in women finding the posting less appealing.
With new technology (such as TalVista, Hiretual, SeekOut and Eightfold AI) using AI and language processing to analyze, rate and suggest new language, companies can now easily identify potential bias and improve job ads for diversified and inclusive sourcing. There are also free tools available that recruiters can use today to get started.
Recruiters tasked to source, hire and keep talent long-term have an important responsibility for the growth of an organization. Understanding what attracts talent begins with discovering what discourages them. It is encouraging to see that as a society — and globally — we are becoming aware of the subtle things that make a big difference.
Starting at the level of a job ad, a simple word or phrase that once pushed a qualified person away will now invite them to a workplace they will love and be proud to work for. The unconscious biases embedded at our workplace are no one’s fault, unless we become aware of it and don’t make a change.