How Can Talent Acquisition Balance Diversity and Time to Fill?

The right foundations allow organizations to operationalize D&I strategies to make a deep impact on the diversity of their workforce.

Talent Acquisition has a key role to play in advancing diversity and setting the stage for an inclusive and equitable experience for future employees, but according to Culture Amp’s 2022 Diversity and Inclusion Survey, only 34% of organizations felt they had sufficient resources to support their DEI initiatives. With pressure to fill roles, increasing workloads, and competing priorities, it can feel unsustainable to integrate goals around diversity into the day-to-day. In a recent webinar with ATAP, HiredScore’s Value Engineer Director, Liam Smees and Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Tabitha Ashura discussed practical strategies for advancing diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Foundations to pursue a robust D&I strategy in hiring

The right foundations allow organizations to operationalize D&I strategies to make a deep impact on the diversity of their workforce. It is critical to take a proactive, step-by-step approach and to have visibility into each step of the recruiting cycle.

Collect the right candidate data

To start, ensure you’re collecting demographic data from candidates at the point of apply in countries where it is legal to do so. It’s also important to offer candidates clarity on why you’re asking, as well as naming what protections they’ll have in disclosing, so that they’ll opt-in to providing that information.

Get visibility into your progress

Deploy tools that allow for real-time visibility into demographics during the TA process. Many organizations look at diversity metrics retrospectively - by then it is too late to make a positive impact! A proactive, aggregated req-level approach helps recruiters identify ways to meet targets appropriately, without accidentally tokenizing candidates by looking at their individual attributes.

Help recruiters balance goals

Set clear expectations for your recruiters and support them with clear targets and appropriate actions to reach them. As mentioned in Chip and Dan Heath’s Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard - to ensure transformation you need a clear direction, motivation & to ensure goals are easy to achieve. 

Empower recruiters agility 

Be aware of actions you are taking from top of funnel and through the process that might be exclusionary and reduce your opportunity to make fair and unbiased decisions. By having real time data and setting targets or KPIs to hit as you move through the stages of the process, there will be fewer surprises. Without those surprises, recruiters won’t need to make hasty attempts to fix the shortcomings and get time-to-fill back on track. This agility ensures recruiters are not waiting until the end of the process before they realize they aren't making progress toward achieving diversity goals. For example, they won’t end up having a gender imbalanced shortlist and then having to go spend time trying to source for people of a set gender while impacting their time to fill.

Areas where Talent Acquisition teams lack visibility and control of D&I data and processes

TA teams often lack demographic data because it either sits with other teams or candidates opt-out of self-identification. Because a wide variety of teams are critical to the success of D&I in an organization, recruiters may have to collaborate more frequently with D&I leaders, Hiring Managers, or other teams than they historically had to, to ensure candidates are provided with the right questions and information to elect to self-identify. 

Additionally, when there is access to data, it can be challenging to know where to benchmark when reliant on look-back data, as many of the previous years have been abnormal - whether it’s due to a pandemic, economic downturn, or the great resignation. D&I work (and justice work in general) requires time, intention, and long-lasting commitment to succeed.

TA teams may also struggle to understand which choices to make when posting a role. For instance, requirements may be limiting to certain groups or general volumes of people. Having insight into how the talent pool diversifies if they ask for 3 years experience rather than 4 is powerful.

It’s critical that goals are appropriately aligned for TA teams - how are recruiters rewarded for meeting D&I goals? If you aren’t, they’ll often be forced to prioritize other metrics, which can have an adverse impact on your goals.

Translating company-wide diversity goals into daily activities that drive impact

To quote Minal Bopaiah of Brevity & Wit, “Focus on observable behaviors.” Set expected behaviors for TA and operationalize change by doing so. There are several approaches that can serve diversity in talent acquisition including:

Be creative in the ways you look for talent. 

Many companies try to fix their challenges with diversity by spending millions on a new or rebranded careers website. In the words of Liam Smees, “This is like painting your front door a different color and expecting someone different to walk down your street.” 

Set sourcing goals to ensure you’re sourcing from multiple platforms.. Perhaps more critically, consider how you’re resurfacing candidates who may have been silver medalists or who you’ve collected into pipelines when attending events. Our research shows that over 94% of Fortune 500 requisitions could be filled with existing candidates from your own database.

Ensure job requirements are set appropriately. 

A look at over 500 million hiring decisions in our data lab found that 45% of reqs would be more inclusive if qualifications were expressed differently. To learn more about how to ensure reqs are properly calibrated from the outset, please reference our blog post on Creating Inclusive Job Descriptions.

Track diversity by stage of the hiring process

Set slate diversity goals at different stages in the hiring funnel, but ensure you set up clarity on when those may need to be overridden. It doesn’t help anyone if you continue to source diverse candidates if you already know that an internal applicant or referral will be granted priority. Make sure there’s also clear thresholds around when you would prioritize time to fill over further sourcing to meet those goals. If you’re tracking diversity at each stage, you should be able to correct for imbalance in meeting these thresholds earlier, minimizing the need to prioritize time to fill.

Prevent bias from impacting the screening process. 

In order to be fair, we must recognize that there are decisions we make that are influenced by years of having the system unfairly skewed. For instance, educational institutions that are historically Black or historically women-only, may not be recognizable at a glance in the same way as those with big names that historically only served men or white students. When we recognize something we have an affinity toward it, which can introduce a bias. This bias in the hiring process leads to unfair outcomes. This can be mitigated through intelligently masking resumes - that is replacing the institution name with only degree type.

Act on your learnings

Apply what you learn in inclusion and allyship trainings to interactions with candidates. Communicate fairly and evenly across candidates - if you’re giving feedback ensure it’s actionable, if you’re responding to candidates for a role try to balance timing so everyone gets a fair opportunity, close out reqs so no one wastes time applying to something that isn’t filled.

Escalate where necessary

If you feel something isn’t aligned in your recruiting process to provide candidates with a fair and inclusive experience, escalate to your manager, and if possible propose solutions. This escalation can also occur if you have concerns surrounding the diversity of the candidates in a req - sometimes others in your team may be able to help identify alternative approaches to sourcing, requirement setting, or process that will allow for an improvement of diversity within the req.

If recruiters could do one thing today to make an impact, what would it be?

There is no silver bullet to solve for D&I challenges. It’s critical to take a multi-pronged, multi-tiered approach. That said here are a few key areas to focus on:

If you have a supportive technology that allows you to focus on creating a consistent, inclusive experience for candidates, you have the opportunity to work with leaders and challenge them on their strategies of how to hit their DE&I goals. It's too easy at the top to set the targets and then let it be a TA problem, but efforts need to be coming from all angles.

Additionally, make use of the great diverse talent that you already have at your fingertips; resurface silver medalists (you’ve already paid for that candidate in time/advertising etc) so you don’t let them go stale in your ATS. Also push internal mobility, it's so important right now that you keep your employees engaged and give them opportunity for progression, because you know that external companies will be willing to offer them something.

How can HiredScore help?

HiredScore has built tools to address issues with diversity at top of funnel, the building of diverse slates, and hiring bias - as well as recruiter efficiency. By strategically operationalizing behaviors through tools like HiredScore, recruiters are left with more time to focus on building a sense of inclusion and belonging for their candidates. 

Our tools are able to help you set the right job description requirements, get visibility into your slate, resurface previous candidates, strategically mask resumes, and more - to learn more about why we were awarded Fast Company’s 2022 World Changing Ideas for AI, book a demo here.

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