Skip to main content

Reduce Bias in the Hiring Process with a Skills-Based Talent Acquisition Solution

image of colleagues talking about hiring and how to reduce bias in the hiring process

 

The global pandemic and its economic fallout have had a disproportionate impact on Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) individuals who are facing higher rates of job loss, housing insecurity, and financial hardship than their white counterparts. This disparity exists despite companies spending more than $8 billion on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs every year to help bridge the gap and hire more diverse talent. In order to make real and sustainable progress, organizations will need to rethink how they source, recruit, and hire diverse candidates. Basing hiring decisions on verifiable data rather than self-reported information on resumes can help reduce inequity and restore fairness to the talent sourcing process.

Perception of Equity in the Hiring Process 

One of the biggest problems, argues the latest State of Inequity report from HUE, is that there’s a major disconnect between what HR teams think they are doing in terms of creating more diverse hiring initiatives and how BIPOC individuals perceive how much their employers are actually doing to address inequality in the hiring process.

According to the report, 80% of HR executives say their industry does a good job of implementing diversity-related initiatives, yet 85% of BIPOC employees report that their companies do not invest in recruiting racially diverse candidates nor are they aware of any racial awareness training. Unfortunately, employment data backs up the perception that organizations can do better: Black employees make up 13% of the U.S. workforce but only 2% at the executive level.

While it's clear that organizations are spending money on DEI initiatives aimed in part at reducing bias in the hiring process, more needs to be done in order to achieve lasting results and make a real difference.

Finding the Right Tool for the Hiring Process

Recruitment has traditionally been based on who an applicant knows, where they’ve worked, or where they went to school. However, these outdated proxies have been proven to limit your talent pool. Confirmation bias occurs when hiring managers or recruiters base their opinions about candidates on where they’re from, their name, religion, race, color, sex, age, and disability (or another federally protected category). Unfortunately, confirmation bias is present across industries, occupations, and employer sizes. In a study called Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination, researchers sent resumes with randomized African-American and white-sounding names to help wanted ads in Boston and Chicago. The resumes with white names received 50% more callbacks for interviews.

When looking for a network architect or Python developer, the university a candidate went to has little bearing on whether they would succeed at your company. All that matters is that they have proven proficiency in a technology or coding language through the completion of a verified certification. A keyword-optimized resume or recommendation from a college friend should not hold the weight that most talent acquisition solutions rely on.

Not all talent matching platforms offer the same benefit to employers seeking to improve their DEI results. Here are three things to look for when exploring talent matching solutions that reduce bias in the hiring process:

1. Focus on skills-based hiring:

Sourcing candidates based on verified digital credentials puts the focus on a candidate’s skills and abilities–a good step toward ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion during the hiring process. This data-based approach can effectively work towards removing bias from your talent acquisition strategy, allowing you to refocus your efforts on verifiable skills, such as third-party certifications, rather than outdated proxies, buzzwords, or specific phrases. This ensures you hire an applicant with the required skills regardless of race, gender, or other social identity factors.

2. Rely on responsible AI:

When you’re responsible for the output of your AI-powered tools, it’s important to know what goes into them. Make sure your talent acquisition solution is powered by transparent AI, and matches skills rather than personally-identifiable information that can inadvertently introduce bias into a decision–such as making inferences based on profile pictures or names.

3. Proactively source candidates based on verified skills:

Social media has quickly become the primary resource for 79% of job seekers, but why spend a lot of time tediously searching LinkedIn and other job posting boards based on inconsistent, unreliable keywords. Your talent sourcing tool should proactively search out qualified candidates based on their verified skills. Getting a short list of qualified candidates gives you the opportunity to find skilled candidates without having to go through traditional sourcing channels that can perpetuate bias.

Take Steps to Reduce Bias in the Hiring Process

Most HR teams, recruiters, and hiring managers are aware of the inherent racial bias that exists in the hiring process, and are committed to taking steps to do better. Taking a data-based approach to talent sourcing and recruiting can be a great first step to reducing hiring bias, but it’s important to evaluate the capabilities and compliance of your HR tech tools. Organizations must choose a solution that focuses on verified credentials, ensures there isn’t inherent bias in their talent match algorithms, and allows learners to easily share earned certifications with recruiters.

Learn more about how to reduce bias in the hiring process in our new ebook How Digital Credentials + Skills-Based Hiring Reduce Bias in the Workplace.