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INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY 2022: HOW DO WE 'BREAK THE BIAS' IN TECH RECRUITMENT?

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by Dale Swords
International Women's Day , 2022 , Recruitment , Tech Industry , Understanding Recruitment , LifeAtUR , Tech Recruitment , Advice , Tips , Equality , Careers , Candidates , Clients , Internal Recruitment , Recruiter , Women in recruitment , Hiring , URLife
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As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, I’m not only reminded of the talented women we’re lucky to have within Understanding Recruitment but also the positive progress we’ve made over the years to ‘break the bias’ (this year’s theme) and encourage both technology and recruitment as a career path for everyone, regardless of gender.

Thankfully, times are changing, and we’re seeing more women being encouraged to drive technological innovation across the world. That said, despite the positive shift, the statistics we’re seeing are still shocking, with several sectors having as much as 85% male-identifying people versus 15% female-identifying individuals within their teams.

So, how can hiring companies tackle bias in their recruitment processes and overall lead the way for more gender diversity in the workplace?


A TOP-DOWN APPROACH

In my opinion, it’s the job of everyone involved in the hiring process, from the top down to be mindful of diversity every step of the way. And to help with this, it’s really important to have different people with multiple perspectives involved to help eradicate unconscious bias of any individual during the process.


Here at Understanding Recruitment, we’ve introduced unconscious bias training and support around inclusive hiring so that everyone is aware of their unconscious biases and how this can impact the recruitment process. Across the business, we regularly review our internal interview and recruitment process to help eradicate any bias as well as promote and encourage new ways of working, including part-time working which sadly can be all too often overlooked within our industry.

We’re also members of Women in Recruitment, within which there are mentoring opportunities to help encourage more women to have a seat at the table and elevate their careers.  Additionally, we have an internal mentoring scheme so that all our team members can reach their fullest potential.

We recognise from a range of research carried out that people involved in the hiring process are often encouraged to look for a certain profile or behaviour. However, we know that this negatively impacts business performance and in turn, companies are losing out on talent without knowing it.


THE VALUE OF DIVERSITY

Companies that embrace diversity are proven to be much better positioned for innovation and perform better. It also creates more diversity of thought and approaches in the workplace which research proves makes for a far more productive and successful business.

In my experience, companies that are growing quickly sometimes haven’t been deliberate enough about their hiring process and end up allowing unconscious biases to creep into their decision making. Although a lot of companies are already aware of this issue and claim they are trying to make their hiring processes less biased, it is easy to fall into the trap. In many cases, people don’t even realise they’re doing it.


 “In my experience, companies that are growing quickly sometimes haven’t been deliberate enough about their hiring process and end up allowing unconscious biases to creep into their decision making.”

We advise our clients to work with standardised competency-based questions, making sure questions don’t vary between people so they are interviewed objectively. Letting interviewers pick their own questions means that their experience of the candidate can vary. While some people might just have a friendly chat based on common interests, others interrogate the candidate. This means that people often end up being recommended for the role based on a personal connection rather than their ability to do the job, a fact often supported by the company’s staff retention rate, a statistic often ignored.

The good news though, is that the easiest place to remove unconscious bias is in recruitment. Taking the time to make biases visible will help companies address them and improve the diversity of their teams.

And whilst we’ll be fully celebrating International Women’s Day here at Understanding Recruitment, it’s the work we’ll be carrying out throughout the year around breaking the bias that really matters.


DISCOVER OUR 'DIVERSITY IN AI' SERIES:

Catherine Oxley, PolyAI: https://www.understandingrecruitment.co.uk/blog/2021/08/annas-diversity-in-ai-series-catherine-oxley

Priscilla Boyd, iTech Media: https://www.understandingrecruitment.co.uk/blog/2021/09/annas-diversity-in-ai-series-priscilla-boyd

Ye Tian, Wluper: https://www.understandingrecruitment.co.uk/blog/2021/10/research-scientist-ye-tian-on-working-on-amazon-alexa-and-the-value-of-nlp

Yue Wang, Samsung: https://www.understandingrecruitment.co.uk/blog/2022/02/diversity-in-ai-series-samsungs-yue-wang-on-propelling-the-ai-industry-forward