2023 Talent Outlook Study
With so many possible development levers to pull in today’s corporate environment, how can leaders stay aware of their options and the outcomes of those options?
August 16, 2023
Employers who want to cultivate a more diverse and equitable workplace should begin by taking a thoughtful look at how they can implement equitable hiring practices. Allowing common biases to persist in the recruitment and hiring process, restricting the talent pool with narrowly defined recruiting parameters, or trying to source diverse talent from the campuses of not-so-diverse educational institutions are examples of hiring practices that could be hindering efforts to diversify.
In this article, we will present several steps for improving equitable hiring practices and strategies for encouraging workplace diversity. We’ll begin with a discussion of the negative impact of bias on diversity and inclusion.
Avoid unconscious bias in hiring by:
Another helpful practice toward building a more diverse talent pool is to look at the universities from which you’re recruiting. A simple question may be all that’s needed to reevaluate your approach: Are their student populations as diverse as you’d like your workforce to be?
Conducting unbiased interviews is essential to an equitable hiring process. Your interview process can be adjusted to achieve better equity and inclusion by following a few simple guidelines.
If you plan to use video interviews, prepare all candidates for success equally by sharing, in advance, best practices that include recommendations for lighting and audio. Why is this necessary? Some candidates might be coming from professional backgrounds where video conferences aren’t common, or they may not have optimal technology or a quiet place in which to conduct their interview. Unpleasant background visuals or too much noise may impact interviewers’ perspectives of a candidate’s professionalism.
Interviews should be standardized. As mentioned earlier, this is helpful in mitigating bias, but it also helps to provide consistency across all candidates.
Take a critical look at the types of questions your interviewers are asking. Interview questions are often focused on specific experience, rather than skills. Instead of asking the candidate if they’ve “done” this or that, ask them how they would “approach” this or that.
Rather than relying on candidates’ own assessment of their abilities, work sample tests can be used to assess candidates’ skills more objectively. Candidates are asked to solve a problem that is similar to one the company might actually face, and their sample tests can be evaluated side by side.
Employers have adopted tuition benefits programs as a way to solve for current and predicted skills gaps, but lack of inclusivity in tuition policies can work against their efforts to diversify management teams and achieve diversity in hiring.
In examining these policies to assess their impact on inclusivity and diversification initiatives, employers should ask: Are our tuition policies inclusive, or are they shutting out the very people they were intended to help? Tuition reimbursement policies that require employees to pay their tuition upfront are often underutilized. Because of an inability to pay for their education upfront, lower-income employees may be less likely to pursue higher education and, therefore, miss out on opportunities for professional development and career advancement. Over the long term, this stifled upward mobility contributes to a lack of diversity. A tuition benefits policy that allows the employer to pay the education institution directly, eliminating the need for the employee to borrow the money, pay their way and wait for reimbursement, may strengthen your long-term diversity and inclusion objectives.
Tuition benefits polices should also be flexible enough to meet the needs of employees in a variety of situations. Consider, for example, making the benefits available on “day one” of employment without a timeframe requirement, and allowing employees to use the benefit to pay down existing student loan debt.
Work-based learning programs, including apprenticeships, are another way to cultivate talent and help new employees without prior experience to work their way into new roles, acquiring on-the-job training and preparing for industry-applicable certification exams.
At DeVry University, we’re developing a diversity, equity and inclusion-focused course to be included in all of our programs, by 2025. We’ve also recently launched a DEI badge program to provide recognition of the completion of a DEI program. Your company could do the same.