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Stunted development? 5 forces limiting D&I improvements in early talent

“To address diversity challenges in early talent, we need to think differently and try new approaches” said Tom Daniel-Price, Headstart CRO, at the UK’s first ‘Inclusive Hiring’ event, supported by Headstart.

The biggest early talent challenges faced today, according to 25 recruitment and hiring managers

We asked a room full of diversity focussed recruiters and hiring managers – from companies like IBM, Deloitte, Co-op, Adobe, and PwC – to explore challenges in sourcing, screening, selection, and hiring. The aim was to uncover what exactly is preventing, limiting, and restricting progress on diversity and inclusion in early talent recruitment. The group identified similar issues in each stage of the pipeline.

Inclusive Hiring - early talent workshop

Most early talent teams are drowning in diversity and inclusion challenges because the early talent pipeline has exploded in scale, not to mention the disconcerting disconnect between employers and candidates. Companies complain of a talent shortage, yet they continue to look in the same pools and have unrealistic expectations of graduate experience and performance – especially without well-built development programs. Graduate job seekers are holding out for roles with meaning, yet they have no company loyalty and high expectations for entry-level employment. What can we do to repair our broken processes?

Here are the biggest early talent challenges we all seem to be facing today, along with some of the insight shared by our group of early talent professionals.

Time pressures in the fight for talent

Managing high volumes of information from departments and candidates can lead to misunderstandings through human error. Recruiters have to make quick decisions to compete for the candidates, and will often go for ‘the best’ candidates – who have a similar profile to themselves or previous hires. A study in 2004 on race in the labor market found that white names were 50% more likely to get a call back for interviews because bias is unavoidable under these circumstances of ‘information overload’. Sadly, very little has changed since 2004. Hiring decisions are still being made based on CVs and job descriptions that lack necessary and fair levels of detail.

Inclusive Hiring Tom Daniel-Price quote

Unconscious bias and different perceptions of ‘what good looks like’

Many biases impact decisions in the hiring process. It’s a complex issue made more challenging by the differing perspectives, prejudices, and assumptions within a diverse team of talent managers, hiring managers, and recruiters. Everyone has a cognitive bias but only some of us are aware of its influence. Each bias is essentially a ‘shortcut’ developed to help us cope in a world of sensory over-stimulation. Unconscious bias is an invisible pressure felt across all aspects of hiring. It’s not just from the recruiter/hiring managers’ perspective, but also how they’re explaining things to the candidate, how they’re assessing the candidates, the collective understanding of the needs of the business and also how we ‘get into’ local communities – it’s omnipresent.

Qualifications get too much attention

Qualifications from specific universities form the foundation of how today’s recruiters and hiring managers source, screen and select candidates. This is an issue for diversity – universities with similar entry-level requirements tend to produce similar candidates. If we put the same in, we get more of the same out. Companies who focus on pedigree are missing out on the opportunity of potential. Graduate recruitment is heavily skewed on what a person achieved, what they did before, where they went to school, possibly even who they know, rather than the qualities necessary for the role. We believe early talent sets the tone for the next phase of the business, getting it right will tackle both diversity and retention. Hire the best people, create a sense of belonging, and they will grow with the company.

Inclusive Hiring - Gareth Jones belonging

Getting into communities and social mobility

Today HR teams play a vital role in shaping the way organizations grow and, more importantly, can level the playing field in society. Reports by McKinsey, Mercer and the big four accounting firms have proven that diverse talent delivers better outcomes. The society where organizations operate is one of the most important stakeholders and collaborators in business, and this works both ways. The community has influence over your business and from a talent perspective, in some cases, enables local social mobility. This is dependent on the hiring manager’s ability to integrate within and understand the potential of the community.

Accessibility and inclusion

Diversity is not just about gender, ethnicity, or age. It can be cognitive, values, skills or physical. Diversity is vast. So how do we cater to a spectrum of differing needs, and how do we make sure it’s fair? To assess how inclusive the hiring process is, we need to look at the support we offer candidates: one level of support is unlikely to fit-all. Things like being able to fill out application forms if you’re visually impaired, or telephone interviews if you’re deaf, or attending interviews if you’re in a wheelchair. Disability and unemployment statistics tell us that hiring practices are not fair for everyone.

We need to use tools to help us save time and tackle bias. We need to stop quantifying candidates in terms of pedigree – and instead focus on a candidate’s potential to succeed and progress within our organizations. It is our responsibility as talent and recruitment professionals to repair our broken pipeline by redefining current practices. It’s time to move away from who candidates are, and what candidates have done, to what they could do. Hire for potential and give our youth the opportunity to prove themselves – while practicing inclusion and fostering high performance.

Inclusive Hiring - Senalda Rodrigues

Two recommendations to boost diversity through the early talent hiring process:
1. Invest in automation to help you save time and money, so your team can focus on the things that matter.
2. Diversity needs to start with early career recruiting, to create an inclusive environment from the entry-level up.

If you’re not sure where to begin, we can help identify the gaps in your pipeline – let’s talk it through. Get in touch today.

Headstart is on a mission to transform the way organisations hire! We are the world's first diversity driven Applicant Matching and Management System. We use Machine Learning and Data Science to transform the recruitment process, enabling clients to find the right high potential employees regardless of gender, ethnic status, sexual orientation or age.

With major brands like Accenture publicly supporting our mission, Headstart is already improving the recruitment experience for candidates around the world.

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