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These Solutions Can Mitigate Bias in the Hiring Process - If You Set Them Up for Success

Audra Jenkins, SPHR, SHRM SCP, CDP, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Randstad North America

Audra Jenkins, SPHR, SHRM SCP, CDP, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Randstad North America

AI-enabled ATS platforms help us find the right candidates more easily. People analytics enables us to make data-driven decisions about human performance. Video screenings allow us to vet and hire from virtually anywhere. Each of these advances augment what HR professionals already bring to the table. But unfortunately, we — and I mean each and every one of us — also bring our biases to the hiring process. Fortunately, technology is also emerging that, when implemented and used correctly, can mitigate that.

But like any technology, these tools have to be leveraged across the organization and fully supported from the C-suite. That's easier said than done, but as chief diversity and inclusion officer for Randstad US, I've seen it happen at our clients' organizations all across the country. It's doable for organizations of any size, and these insights can help you do it, too.

Understand the Tools Available

Our biases impact who we hire, how we communicate and what we look for in potential hires, and today, there are platforms that mitigate bias at each of those stages.

"By mitigating bias in the hiring process, your organization will not only become more diverse, but you’ll take a meaningful step toward creating a culture where everyone feels truly able to be their true selves at work"

For starters, using a tool that leverages customizable AI, natural language processing and machine learning can deliver personalized candidate experiences. This reduces the amount of upfront human-to-human interaction in the recruiting process, and enables the most qualified candidates to progress without their candidacy being impacted by recruiters' biases. Other examples of customizable AI hiring tools, are best known for their hiring analytics features, which also allow for deep analysis of the hiring process, enabling organizations to see where biases may be causing candidates to drop out of or be removed from the funnel.

Additionally, some AI tools now have capabilities to mitigate bias in similar ways by automating the screening process. In this way, these complementary solutions also improve sourcing within diverse audiences by recognizing minority candidates and engaging underrepresented populations via email, SMS and chat. Likewise, similar platforms can, among many other things, automatically match talent with roles that suit them best.

These tools do their best work in the earliest stages of the hiring process, like resume review and screenings, and are best suited for organizations that hire frequently. By removing recruiters from these earliest stages — and freeing them up to focus on other things — these solutions mitigate biases that would prevent otherwise qualified candidates from advancing. That can be a huge step toward increasing diversity and inclusion, a result that comes with measurable bottom-line value.

Smart Implementation Starts at the Top

Before you can implement a solution to mitigate bias, you've got to ensure that your organization is bought in — and that starts at the top. The mandate for diversity must come from the C-suite, and it must also be a strategic business priority. A bias-mitigating solution that's merely a "nice to have" will never deliver on its potential if its impact on the business isn't carefully managed and frequently reported on.

To get that buy-in, take the time to build a clear business case, with KPIs tied to revenue goals and the ability to reach a more diverse client base. You may want to point out that millennials, who will make up more than 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, are the most diverse generation in U.S. history. That means the ability to hire talent from diverse communities will be table stakes for continued success. After all, you can't craft products or services for diverse audiences — which make up more than a third of the U.S. population today — without a diverse team. That's a clear mandate for greater workplace diversity, and it's something your C-suite simply can't ignore. Especially since a recent World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2020 says it will take approximately another 100 years to close the gender gap. These tools can help mitigate risk by focusing on skills and providing a great opportunity for more women and historically diverse and untapped talent.

But while implementation may start at the top, it certainly doesn't end there. The recruiting team using these tools needs to be both diverse and trained to recognize their own biases. Many of these tools use machine learning, and machines learn by what they're taught. The language your recruiting team uses, for example, can influence what these tools learn and how they communicate with candidates. Unfortunately, fewer than a third of employees have received that training, so that may be an area your HR function needs to tackle in order for these tools to be effective.

Takeaways

The ultimate goal of any D&I initiative is to not only increase diversity and inclusion, but also to foster belonging. By mitigating bias in the hiring process, your organization will not only become more diverse, but you’ll take a meaningful step toward creating a culture where everyone feels truly able to be their true selves at work.

Of course, you can't simply flip a switch and see ROI immediately. There's much work to be done within your organization before they can generate positive outcomes — but it's work that sets your company up for continued success in a more diverse global society as a whole.

As chief diversity and inclusion officer with more than 20 years of human resources, diversity, supplier diversity, and compliance experience; Audra provides internal and external clients with guidance for effective strategies in diversity, supplier diversity, inclusion, and compliance. Under Audra’s leadership, the company has received numerous diversity awards. Audra is the executive sponsor for Randstad’s Hire Hope program which provides career readiness training and job placement services to underserved and at-risk women, including survivors of homelessness, exploitation, and trafficking. Audra holds a Master’s in Business Administration with a Human Resources concentration, and a Bachelor’s in Finance, from the University of North Carolina. A member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM); she is also a Certified Diversity Professional (CDP), a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), a SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) and a Six Sigma Green Belt. Audra is known for her speaking engagements at diversity conferences, hosts the global Diversity Deep Dive podcast, and has published several white papers in her area of expertise.

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