There is huge scope for technology to democratise future recruitment and help overcome diversity and inclusion barriers, a panel of experts have argued at a Westminster Employment Forum Keynote Seminar.
Experts included Professor Vlatka Hlupic, author of The Management Shift and Charles Hipps, CEO of WCN, who said that industries must look to technology to ease pain points that are important to workforce development in the near future – in particular diversity, inclusion and employer transparency.
Joe Wiggins, Head of Communications – Europe at Glassdoor, demonstrated how Nando’s was starting to feature employee voices in its outdoor advertising and said this could start a precedent as the recruitment journey is increasingly being fast-tracked, but candidates are more empowered than ever and demand transparency from businesses. Without that transparency, there is no value proposition to attract the best candidates and encourage diverse applicants.
Raphael Mokades, Founder and Managing Director at Rare Recruitment, added that employers needed to be more transparent in making disadvantaged candidates feel like they can be hired. He said that with high volumes of candidates vying for jobs nowadays, it is difficult to tell them apart without extra data points. Technology can help to broaden applicant consideration beyond factors where privilege plays a factor such as extracurricular achievements or work experience which can be biased towards those who are privileged, but by asking optional questions around socio-economic factors that help to unlock potential. Beyond the application process, he added it was important to help coach these employees so that they can excel and be a positive fit for organisational values.
Olivier Vidal, Founder and Consultant for the Fair Hiring Project, agreed with Raphael but stressed technology needed to concentrate on overcoming barriers – more than simply eradicating bias. He shared how time-stretched recruiters needed to think wider than short-term fixes and help the disadvantaged feel like they can fit in to a business culture using consistently inclusive messages and outreach techniques. Complementing this with empowerment techniques such as investing in learning, development and coaching would help to alleviate barriers in candidate pools beyond traditional assessment forms such as psychometrics where factors can be overlooked.
Charles concluded the panel session with a talk on how predictive analytics will transform recruitment. He noted how recommendation algorithms are already personalising experiences and making user experiences seamless, facilitating much better productivity and utilisation of assets which can be replicated in recruitment technology to improve the hiring process for the better.
Current processes are imperfect, limited to certain sources and capped to certain criteria’s or workforce numbers. The Social Mobility Commission has also flagged this as an ongoing concern. Using artificial intelligence to run blind recruitment and filter for diversity can infinitely make this better, Charles claimed. Algorithms can be fine-tuned to instantly predict 33% of candidates who should, by applicant data only, be great hires from sources you might not traditionally use. One client of WCN has seen a success rate of 50% of new sources filling roles over the last two years, while another has an average time to hire of 3 days through advanced sifting with candidate satisfaction scores of 98%. It is also helping to encourage more applications – a 150% rise in one case – of applications from diversity candidates with one firm increasing gender mix in hires by 7%. This technology is helping to ease talent scarcity, accelerate time to hire, save on resourcing time, and can help make business case achievements equating to tens of millions in revenue improvements.
Offering a recruiter perspective, Tony Vickers Byrne, Director of Human Resources at Public Health England praised technology as critical. He demonstrated how intelligence dashboards were critical to PHE’s approach to diversity campaigns and the positive actions it takes to delivering workforces representative of society at large.
Delegates and panellists all agreed that there is vast potential for technology in generating improvements to the barriers in recruiting. Westminster Forums are structured to facilitate the formulation of ‘best’ public policy by providing policymakers and implementers, and those with an interest in the issues, with a sense of the way different stakeholder perspectives interrelate.