Posted on Friday 19 April 2019 by Ulster Business

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Diversity and inclusion in the workplace has never been more relevant than it is today, writes John Moore, managing director of Hays Northern Ireland

In a recent global survey by Hays for International Women’s Day, we asked over 1,100 respondents on a scale of one to five how committed their employer was to achieving gender equality. Close to a third (32%) said their employer was less committed to achieving gender equality, with women (39%) more likely to believe there was a need for improvement, versus 23% of men. Only 45% of all respondents said their employer was committed to achieving gender equality, with men overwhelming (57%) believing this to be the case versus 38% of women. There’s clearly still a long way to go.

Most business leaders are well aware of the merit of employing a diverse workforce. Diversity in areas including age, employee background, gender and religion affirms a message of inclusivity within the organisation and to a wider external audience, creating a strong position and

Hiring methods are an integral element of increasing diversity among employees, and CVs are one of the many ways in which the process can be improved. Many organisations will judge candidates based on their most recent job listing, potentially overlooking talented and competent applicants without a steady course of uninterrupted career progression. This can particularly disadvantage many women in professional sectors who have prioritised childcare at points throughout their career.

Whether you believe it or not, we all have unconscious bias built in to our responses to others. So, if you could eliminate those biases from the process, would you do so?

More and more organisations, including many here in Northern Ireland, now recruit based on blind CVs, where information such as age, race and gender is removed to prevent subconscious biases from influencing hiring decisions.

Using competency-based application processes assesses essential soft skills such as communication, emotional intelligence, problem solving and self-motivation, rather than testing specific knowledge, which can be learned more quickly than soft skills. The absence of a CV can change the way you prepare questions and open interviews up to discussions that wouldn’t otherwise take place.

Favouring competency-based applications or requiring blind CVs is a sign your organisation is taking steps to fairly assess candidates based on their skills and experience. These methods of talent-based hiring also demonstrate a commitment to overcoming the perceived disadvantage of career breaks which will positively contribute to diverse representation across all sectors.

The practice of blind hiring is not without its shortcomings. For instance a candidate’s personal information can only be withheld during the initial screening process. Once a line manager conducts a one-to-one interview there is no way to suppress a candidate’s gender, ethnicity or age. While applying the principle may result in a wider pool of first-round interviewees employers subsequently be faced with the same diversity challenges, for example, seeking graduates with a first class honours or a high 2:1.

At Hays we have trialled blind recruitment at assessment centres for a number internal of appointments. The absence of a CV opened up a depth of enquiry and supporting examples from interviewees where the receipt of a CV might not have encouraged the same level of enquiry and open-mindedness.

Demand for transparency around targets and performance is also at an all-time high. So, if your organisation is transparent in their diversity reporting, it proves their willingness to make a public commitment to achieving a fairly recruited workforce and makes them accountable for measuring and reporting their progress.  

You’ll undoubtedly make some excellent new hires that you may not have appointed if you maintained your traditional processes.

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