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Diversity and Inclusion

Top tips to strip bias out of your talent practices

👉Your company constantly sends messages about its inclusiveness

Signals about your inclusiveness are hidden in plain sight in job adverts, marketing materials and messages about your culture. It’s important to analyze and adjust these signals to attract a diverse range of talent.

When you turn away potential candidates with messaging they can’t identify with, you restrict the pool of applicants that will ever come to your doors.

🌟Quick tips for more inclusive job specs 🌟

  • Beware of the temptation to throw in every “nice to have” as required criteria. Research shows that while men apply for a job when they meet 60%+ of the criteria, women won’t apply unless they meet 100%. Allow some wiggle room by using qualifiers for the “nice to haves” like “bonus points for X”
  • Ruthlessly audit your word choice for gendered language (Textio offer a free trial): phrases such as “caring deeply” can encourage more women to apply
  • Scrutinize for age inclusiveness. Beer pong tournaments may sound fun for 20-somethings, but to appeal to a broader audience you also need to tout your benefits package, family leave provisions, flexible work, etc.
  • Add the line “salary negotiable” – this will increase the likelihood of women applying, and the likelihood they’ll negotiate their salary at the offer stage (a key driver of the gender pay gap)
  • Question the educational requirements – is a university degree really required? Or could you add a qualifier like “or equivalent life experience”?
  • Be explicit that you support diversity and equal opportunities within the spec itself.

Demand Diverse Candidates

✅  Be challenging when the initial pool of candidates you get isn’t diverse enough; don’t progress until you have a more diverse selection
✅  Bring an element of “blind auditions” into your hiring process where possible via assessments and/or stripping identifiers out of CVs
✅  In interviews, ask each candidate the same questions, in the same order 
✅  When interviewing, allow each interviewer to form their own decision before swapping notes on the candidate
✅  Ban the term “culture fit” in your team – instead, look for culture contribution. What’s missing from your team and how can you fill that gap?
✅  Consider hiring from untraditional streams like coding camps or community colleges to widen the possible talent pool.

It’s natural for our biases to subconsciously play into conversations and decisions on performance, development, promotion and pay. But you can de-bias these processes through an awareness of where bias is most likely to creep in, plus some simple adjustments.

Start with data

❓ Are there particular groups of people who are underrepresented?

❓ At what levels? And at which stage in their careers do these groups fall behind or leave the business? Why might that be?

❓ Is there equal access to development opportunities – learning, mentors, sponsors, access to the network (incl your senior leaders) – across the board?

❓ Do senior leaders in your business typically progress from within, or get hired in from outside?

This data is a starting point that can help you spot stumbling blocks and missed opportunities.

Reflect on Criteria for Promotions

Watch out for the criteria you use for “high potentials” – is this truly inclusive? 🤔

For example, it’s common for businesses to exclude a high performer who’s a new parent from a special development program, with the thinking that their leave of absence may make them less committed to it. Don’t make those assumptions and choices for people – offer them all the development you can, and let them make the call.

In addition, always keep a running track of who was promoted or provided a certain training opportunity, and why.

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The bottom line?

Instead of trying to ‘fix’ unconscious bias, sidestep it through conscious actions. Level up by stripping bias out of your team processes: the way you attract, hire, support, promote and develop your teammates.

Top tips to strip bias out of your talent practices

Have anything else to add? We’re always keen to hear your feedback! Drop your comments, suggestions, or whatever else you’d like to talk about here.

unnamed-5-150x150 Fiona Young (she/her)

Having previously led Learning and Development for 3,000 people at Europe’s leading venture builder, Blenheim Chalcot, Fiona knows a thing or two about how to build high performance culture. As Content Director at Hive Learning, Fiona pioneered the organisation's leading guided content programmes which are designed to turn learning into action. Most recently, Fiona led the inception, development and delivery of Inclusion Works by Hive Learning - the world’s first diversity and inclusion programme focused on turning unconscious bias into conscious action - created from over 1,000 leading sources.