Best Practices in HR

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Melissa Dobbins
  July 8, 2019

Data: a key ingredient in the recipe for diversity and inclusive hiring practices

“50% of our applicants for engineering roles are women, but 90% of our hires are men, and we don’t know why.”
This perplexing problem was plaguing a very large technology company, leaving their HR department banging their heads against the wall. They knew they had a problem, and, honestly, they suspected they knew the source – but they couldn’t prove it, so they couldn’t fix it.
The Challenge – No Data
They had excellent data on the demographics of their applicants hitting the apply button, and great data on the demographics of their hires… but they had nothing in the middle.
So, why were all their women disappearing? Were they missing basic qualifications? Were they being weeded out in the first interview?
The arguments raged, fueled by belief, gut feelings, and a big unknown blob of nothing.
To Enable Change, Add Data
Now, imagine the same scenario, but this time with data.
Knowing gender data (or any demographic data) at every step clearly shows any discrepancies and allows organizations to focus their diversity efforts towards the greatest impact.

It turns out, the high tech company was losing all of its women in the interview step. A little investigation uncovered that the problem was specifically in the inconsistencies in the interpretation of the interviews. Hiring managers were looking for ‘confident’ candidates, but when women showed this ‘confidence’, they were deemed as too aggressive or pushy compared to their male counterparts and removed from consideration as ‘not a good fit’.
Mix in Data to drive diversity and inclusive hiring practices
Does your organization tend to hire a specific type or types of people? If so, do you know why?
Rather than guessing, imagine how much easier it would be if you had the demographic breakdown at each step, so you could pin-point exactly where to focus your efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive practice.
By knowing where your process grows homogeneous, you can concentrate your efforts. For example:
Is it who is applying?
Look for additional sources for a more diverse candidate pool or take a closer look at the job description to make sure you are attracting the right talent from those sources.
Is it who has basic qualifications?
Examine the qualifications to make sure they are all required. This could also be a challenge with the sources or the job description (same as above).
Is it the interviews, in-depth scenario, or job-related questions?
Take a closer look at what the candidates are being asked and how they are being asked the questions. Are the questions relevant and asked without ‘leading the witness’? Are they consistent? Are the candidates being judged consistently?
Is it the final selection?
How are the final selections made? How are they documented? If all else is equal, is there a pattern of who is selected? Does that pattern make sense?
Add a Pinch of Anonymity for a Perfect Diversity Recipe
If you really want to step up your diversity game and ensure your organization is hiring the right people, imagine if your hiring team didn’t know which of your applicants were the women and which were the men (or any other biasing information, for that matter).
Combining high-level data with individual anonymity enables for a process that focuses on finding the best person for the job, with candidates evaluated consistently, fairly, and against what matters most.
Take the first Step to Diversity: Add Data
How is the data in your process? If you are aiming to create a more diverse hiring program but staring at beliefs, gut feels, and a big unknown blob of nothing, start with data. Map each step of your hiring process and identify ways to collect high-level demographic and other relevant data at each step through the process.
Word of caution: Be sure to keep the data strategy at a macro level – tracking individuals may encourage the opposite behavior – selecting the ‘token’ individuals because of their demographics. So keep the data (and ideally the individuals) anonymous.
Career.Place can help
At career.place we believe strongly that data is the first step to any healthy hiring process. We generate demographic breakdowns for each job as well as across hiring programs – balancing anonymity of the individual with actionable data at every step so organizations can maintain healthy, unbiased hiring practices, enabling diversity and compliance.

Want to see more? Check out our demographic and adverse impact reports, as well as all the other great things career.place can do for your organization.