Q1. "How do you assess the job listing? Could you think of any improvements to reduce bias and/or increase the diversity of the applicant pool?”
The case study details the recruitment practices of the professional services organisation, GoldenCo. An extract of a job listing from GoldenCo is provided. Its strengths include promoting the importance of skills and experience essential to the role, and latterly mentions GoldenCo’s commitment to equal opportunities. However, aspects of the listing require improvement to mitigate potential biases and raise the diversity of potential candidates.
Significantly, the language used throughout the listing could be considered exclusionary and unappealing to a broad spectrum of candidates (Bohnet, 2016). For instance, the listing appeals to “ambitious,” “decisive”, “lead,” and “analytical” candidates, which are considered masculine-coded words (Totaljobs, 2023). The consequence of this may lead to a disproportionate number of male applicants at the discouragement of female applicants and other excluded groups (Bohnet, 2016). The listing also leaves information about the organisation’s diversity goals or specific measures taken to promote candidate diversity unspecified. This could be interpreted as an absence of commitment to diversity and inclusion, which may discourage underrepresented groups.
GoldenCo’s job listing could be improved with five alterations: 1) ‘gender-neutral language’ and replace words associated with a specific gender or background with alternatives (i.e., “motivated”, “confident”, “problem-solving”); 2) ‘promote diversity goals’ and the measures undertaken to ensure the recruitment process is equitable; 3) ‘articulate GoldenCo’s commitment to inclusion’ and diversity to endorse the organisation’s values and priorities; 4) ‘broaden the use of job boards and platforms’ to attract underrepresented groups and encourage applicant diversity (i.e., Women in Technology, EmployAbility, Race Equality Matters); and 5) ‘withdraw mention of five years project management experience’ to ensure the listing is representative of the role’s actual criteria and encourage less experienced, but potentially qualified, applicants.
- Bohnet, I. (2016). What Works: Gender Equality by Design. Harvard University Press.
- Totaljobs. (2023). Gender Bias Decoder. Retrieved 21 February 2023, from https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/gender-bias-decoder/
Q2. "Where - if anywhere - do you see good practices?"
The given case study of GoldenCo, a professional services organisation, references several recruitment practices. Where the job listing extract has protracted liabilities, the given recruitment practices have the potential to be good practices, depending on implementation.
GoldenCo has five specific recruitment practices:
- Hiring presence among various recruitment channels, including industry-specific job boards, LinkedIn, and employee referrals. This increases the prospect of discovering the talent GoldenCo requires. However, given the high proportion of white male employees, these prospects may be undermined by not reaching a diverse range of candidates.
- The provision of selective student internship programmes, whereby former interns are paired with employees as a mentor. This could foster a reliable pipeline for GoldenCo of future candidates for permanent roles. Conversely, GoldenCo is dependent on candidate discovery from networking and employee referrals. This may inadvertently restrict diverse candidates from this opportunity and perpetuate the current workforce imbalance (Schelling, 1971).
- The HR department counterparts candidates with employees who share common interests or university affiliations. This may streamline the sense of belonging at GoldenCo and foster a shared identity among its employees. However, the same risk factor elaborated above persists (Schelling, 1971).
- The use of unstructured interview panels could facilitate more open-ended, flexible questioning. This can provide a variety of avenues to gather more information about a candidate’s organisational fit with its culture and values. However, the shortcoming of unstructured panels is blemished by inconsistency and, potentially, an unfair assessment of candidates due to unique panel member evaluation criteria or question sets (Stephens et al., 2021).
- GoldenCo prioritises employee cooperativeness with colleagues. This could be viewed as a contributing factor to building a positive work environment and increased employee engagement. The problem is panel members at the interview stage make this judgement subjectively according to the candidate’s personality. This weakens the objectiveness of the panel member’s criteria for cooperativeness and could lead to biased decision-making at selection (Stephens et al., 2021).
- Schelling, T. (1971). Dynamic models of segregation. Journal of Mathematical Sociology, 1(2), 143-186. https://doi.org/10.1080/0022250X.1971.9989794
- Stephens, N.M., Rivera, L.A., & Townsend, S.S. (2021). The cycle of workplace bias. Research in Organisational Behaviour, 41, 1-25. https://doi.org/0.1016/j.riob.2021.100137