The business case for creating a diverse workforce is compelling. Let’s take the male-dominated automotive retailing sector as an example,

Lost Customers. Women make up a large percentage of the dealership customer base yet are intimated by the ’blokey’ dominated male workforce.

Limited Access to Talent. Your talent pool is more than halved if you’re not actively attracting women or other minority groups into your dealership.

Less Innovation. The homogenous nature of your workforce translates to less ideas and less innovation as you’re relying on employees who share similar experiences and thinking.

This all adds up to being less competitive and less successful.

Modifying your recruitment process to mitigate against bias or unfair judgement is key if you want to diversify your workforce.

To vividly demonstrate this, consider how orchestra’s changed their recruitment practices, designed to eliminate bias against female musicians. In the 1970s and 1980s, orchestras began using blind auditions. Candidates were situated on a stage behind a screen to play for a jury that cannot see them. A move which resulted in 50% greater likelihood that a woman would advance to the next stage. Overall the top 5 U.S. orchestras have progressed from only 5% female representation in the 1970’s to 25-30% by 1997.

Here are 25 ways you can achieve a recruitment process that strips out bias and support efforts to diversify your workforce.

Prepare With Diversity Top of Mind

1. When thinking about the team responsible for a hiring assignment make sure it includes more than one person and membership is diverse, for example half male, half female. This provides a broader perspective.

2. Before delving into the details, educate or remind the hiring team about the businesses current workforce composition. How diverse is it today and what are your diversity goals eg 50% of sales consultants female by 2020.

3. Take this one step further and ask the team to watch an educational video (here’s an example) on hiring bias and how to minimises unconscious bias . Priming just before hiring can be really helpful.

4. As a team revisit the role requirements, develop 5-6 key role objectives and base an assessment process and a scoring system around these. Agreeing these upfront, makes hiring teams less vulnerable to changing their minds (often influenced by subjective information unrelated to the role) mid way through the hiring process. Read more here.

5. Avoid recycling job descriptions and place less emphasis on career experience. Instead place higher weightings on capability to do the job, through aptitude based assessments.

Attracting Diversity

6. The language used in job ads is gendered. Assessing car sales job ads we found 50% of job ads were male coded, a third were female coded with the remainder (17%), gender neutral. If you’re looking to attract more women consider a more female coded job post, otherwise keep it gender neutral to attract the broadest talent pool. To remove gendered language from job descriptions and job ads try the free Gender Decoder which highlights the degree to which they are gendered. Here’s a short video which explains how to use it.

7. Through your job posts communicate your commitment to flexible working arrangements, describe your culture and other benefits. Closely match these to what you know about your ideal candidates. For example we’ve found advertising car sales consultant roles as part time rather than the usual full time, has tripled the number of female applicants. Surprise, surprise, it also increased the number of male applicants too.

8. Ensure roles are advertised through multiple media channels not just SEEK. Think about where your ‘target’ candidates are looking. Don’t overlook LinkedIn to source both passive and active candidates.

9. Include in your job posts, copy that reflects your commitment to diversity. For example include a statement such as “Applicants from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply”.

10. Consider an application process where you target an underrepresented group, for example a female-only application process.

11. Encourage internal applicants to apply- consider opt ‘out’ vs opt ‘in’ approaches. In other words qualified current employee’s are automatically included in the applicant pool, should this help you further your diversity objectives.

Screening Without Bias

12. Conduct blind screening by redacting candidate demographic characteristics from resumes to reduce bias, prior to screening.

13. Better still, conduct anonymised aptitude tests to determine each candidates capability. Assess them without knowing anything about them. Think THE VOICE where celebratory judges turn their back on contestants so they get to focus on capabilities, not looks.

14. Confirm the diversity of your shortlist. Do you want 50% to be female or require representation from culturally diverse groups or a broad age demographic?

Interviewing Without Bias

15. If interviewers are not part of the hiring team ensure their membership is also diverse.

16. Share with the interview panel your current workforce diversity statistics and goals before interviewing commences. If you haven’t already share a video or an article explaining First Impression Bias and interview Goupthink.

17. All interviewers should be prepared with interview questions, don’t wing-it.

18. Provide ideal answers with a scoring system.

19. Maintain interviewer independence until all scores are recorded, otherwise everyone will agree with the boss.

20. Ask questions in same order for all candidates, this makes comparing candidates possible.

21. Keep the small talk, well, small. This isn’t the time to find out which footy team they support.

22. Score answers to each question, immediately and log comments.

23. Submit scores to the lead evaluator and analyse.

24. Meet to select the preferred candidate using the objective data you’ve collated.

25. If you have more than one candidate who meets your criteria favour the candidate who helps you achieve your diversity goals.

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