You’ve likely heard the famous Harvard/Princeton study that examined what happened when symphonies around the world began holding ‘blind auditions.’ The rate of female musicians who moved on to the next phase of the process increased by 50%. The study may be dated, but the data holds true. The more preconceived notions and unconscious biases are removed from the hiring process, the more diversity is increased.

When it comes to removing bias from hiring, many tools are available to employers. AI can be leveraged to remove any data from an application that may skew for or against a job seeker. Once screened, pre-employment testing can boost diversity hiring goals by focusing on skills alone. Can the candidate perform the tasks required: and further, do they have the skill set to grow on the job, within the team and organization? When hiring, the focus must be on the work, not the worker, whether furthering D&I drivers or simply hiring the best candidate for the job. Two creative millenial small business owners working on social media strategy using a digital tablet while sitting at desk-1

Diversity Means Profitability

Businesses small and large realize the value of removing bias from the hiring process and building inclusive teams. Organizations more diverse, finds McKinsey, were 25% more likely to generate above-average profitability in 2019: up 10% from their same Why Diversity Matters study of 2014. National initiatives have changed the focus to leveragable job skills rather than degree completion as an arbiter of potential success.

A study published in Harvard Business Review examined the most common bias in hiring and its ultimate value to employers. Many consider a degree from the most elite university forecasts high level performance. But data reveals graduates from higher-ranked universities performed only nominally better than lesser ranked institutions. For every 1,000 positions business saw an increase of overall performance of only 1.9%. Even the largest disparity in performance, between the highest and lowest ranked universities, was only 19%. The study suggests relying on what were once considered ‘tried and true’ data points has little value in predicting candidate success and their value to an organization.

Tech Without a Work-around

We know screening AI helps further diversity goals by removing references that might identify an applicant’s characteristics. It can eliminate personal data, and university/college names, focusing only on required degrees. It’s an important first step in hiring without bias.

Candidates, however, have learned the ways of tech and how to customize their application to meet screening criteria. Years’ experience may stretch somewhat; titles change; keywords are included, all in an effort to get past the first hiring hurdle.

For the most part, recruitment professionals see resumes of qualified candidates, but in some cases, less-than-stellar job seekers make it through. When time-to-hire and candidate experience are top priorities, it’s critically important for hiring authorities to focus on the best possible talent, not sift through the unqualified. The next step in the process makes that goal achievable.

Testing Equals Parity

Pre-employment testing advances the unbiased hiring process further. Candidates who have the skills, experience and talent move through testing with ease. Those who may have exaggerated their background are quickly eliminated. When recruitment professionals leverage tests to pre-qualify, bias is further removed: skills are the only criteria.

Pre-employment assessment tools can utilize anything from a shortlist of questions to verify candidates know their field to complex psychometric tests that uncover desired attitudes and behaviors. Situational judgment tests present the job seeker with an circumstance they may encounter and assess their response. All pre-employment testing sets an bar that’s equitable. When all candidates respond to the same questions, parity in the process is achieved.

Testing Equals Access

Application processes optimized for mobile reach a wider audience. Glassdoor found almost 60% of applicants are looking for and applying to jobs with their smartphone. When pre-employment testing advances the job seeker further in the hiring process, employers are more likely to access a wider, more diverse talent pool.

It’s historically been human nature to gravitate toward our ilk: in business, hiring those who think as we do; share our history and values. Homogenous hiring doesn’t produce innovation: it only perpetuates stagnation. Organizations that value diversity and look to create an inclusive workplace have more tools than ever to break the cycle of workplace uniformity.

Pre-employment testing hones in on the ability to perform the work, not the characteristics of the worker. When talent is hired for talent rather than traits, and candidates are considered for their skills rather than where they earned them, organizational D&I goals transform into D&I success.

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