How Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Impact Recruitment

One way to increase justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion (JEDI) in your business is to implement a targeted recruitment strategy. Workable, a recruiting software company, recently surveyed 800 HR and business professionals that found that having a designated JEDI recruitment strategy was not a common business plan. Though companies that focus on HR, consulting, or recruitment services did have such plans, those in STEM and manufacturing industries did not. Only 28.7% of those in IT, technology, and SaaS (software services) and about 30% of manufacturing industries had no plan. More problematic were multinational businesses that were found to be less likely to have a plan.

Businesses, however, did look at the demographics of final applicants as a small litmus of JEDI, but this was uneven over industries. For example, IT, technology, and SaaS recruiters and accounting and finance recruiters were more likely than the average for all industries to weigh demographics in final hires. Manufacturing, on the other hand, was less likely (30%) to do so, but they valued having a more diverse hiring team much more than other businesses (40% compared to the average of 24.8% for all industries).

Hiring Bias

Finding new hires that reflect JEDI values can be complicated by bias. This isn’t outright racism but more subtle forms that can pervade the hiring process. Biases can cloud our ability to make sound decisions. False impressions can be made not just at the first handshake but sometimes even before applications come in when someone drafts the requirements for the position. Three main forms of bias exist in the hiring process: institutional bias, explicit bias, and implicit bias.

Institutional bias can be found in the culture of a business as policies, procedures, and practices that are drafted formally or informally as a day-to-day norm. This bias usually favors the dominant group within a company. This isn’t always about race, but it could be having most of upper management possessing a degree from a specific institution or group of institutions (Ivy League schools) or being part of a particular socioeconomic group. Institutional bias can seep into job postings that require a specific advanced degree or knowledge that may not be necessary to perform the duties of that position.

Explicit bias is found in the preferences, attitudes, and assumptions one person or group has about another. This kind of bias is intentional and often overt and is based on personal beliefs (right or wrong). Recruiters and HR personnel who demonstrate explicit bias will cull applicants off the top who do not match their perceived qualifications, regardless of whether the applicant has other skills and abilities that the job might benefit from.

Implicit bias is sometimes the most pernicious. It is internal and often those who fall victim to it don’t know they are being biased. It is necessary, therefore, to be constantly doing self-checking to make sure implicit bias doesn’t affect the hiring process.

Ways to Become More JEDI-Focused in Recruitment

There are several ways to become JEDI-focused in your business hires. Below are some important ones.

Awareness and Training

It is critical that you look at your entire hiring process, including your recruitment strategy, your recruiters and HR managers, and even supervisors and department heads are free of explicit and institutional biases. This might require deeper conversations about your business and your employees. One way to root out explicit and institutional bias is to have all of your recruiters, HR managers, supervisors, and department heads take JEDI training and a course specifically on implicit bias. In addition, throughout the entire recruitment and hiring process, encourage recruiters, HR managers, supervisors, and department heads to continually do a self-examination to minimize bias of any kind.

Recruitment Strategy Is Agreed Upon

Create a hiring committee to develop a solid JEDI recruitment strategy. Include a cross-section of departments where the new hire might interact. Try to fill the committee with as diverse a complement of employees as possible, especially those from underrepresented groups (gender identity, ethnicity, religious affiliation, geographic region, and socioeconomic status). Make sure that all hiring requirements do not contain bias. Identify the most important skills and competencies needed for each position and make sure that those do not reflect institutional bias.

Job Postings

Write job postings for openings that focus on JEDI values. Most importantly, make sure those job postings are inclusive and target underrepresented populations. Circulate all job postings on hiring websites, networks, and hiring boards that explicitly support JEDI hiring policies, including those for people who are ability-challenged or have prison records such as Hire Autism, Recruit Disability, and 70 Million Jobs. Send job postings to professional or trade organizations. Recruit continuously. Network with and speak at professional and trade organizations.

JEDI Interviews

Using inclusive language, develop questions that elicit elaboration about specific skills and competencies of the position, not on things that demonstrate institutional or implicit bias. Ask at least one JEDI question. This could be a question about whether the candidate has worked with others who were not like them or attended a meeting or an event that was clearly JEDI-influenced and then following up with “How did you contribute?” or “What was your takeaway?” Also, be mindful of any biases the candidate has expressed verbally or through body language.

Debriefing with Hiring Staff

First, identify the strengths of each candidate. Then, review the hiring criteria for the position and group candidates accordingly (minimally qualified, qualified, highly qualified).  Assess the candidate’s level of JEDI and any biases that were expressed or seen. Did the candidate show self-awareness of his or her own culture, identity, or biases? Did the candidate volunteer experiences that reflected JEDI values?

This kind of JEDI strategy can enhance your recruitment and ensure that your company has a diverse and inclusive workforce.

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