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Understanding inclusive hiring: building an inclusive approach from the start

Karina Govindji, global Diversity & Inclusion expert, shares her strategies aimed at identifying and limiting bias in recruitment.
I’m joined today by Karina Govindji, who is an award winning D&I expert. We’re going to talk about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the context of the hiring process. We all know that process matters when you set up a hiring search. So what are the key elements, and how do you make sure that– from the get go– you have an inclusive hiring process? The first thing is the hiring manager identifies that a role is required. And then the process of actually understanding– from the hiring manager– what are the success factors for this role?
So not having a clear definition of the person that needs to be in the role, but really being much clearer about what are the critical success factors? Also, making sure that there aren’t too many critical success factors. I think one of the challenges is where the list of requirements is so long, that actually no one will ever meet that. So really trying to narrow that down. And then once you’ve got the list of requirements for the role, actually having a conversation with the hiring manager about– let’s look at the rest of the team. How diverse is the rest of the team? What are the skill sets? What do they bring?
And so when you’re bringing someone new, and you’re not just looking at them in isolation, but you’re looking at how that completes a team. What are the key elements that you include in the job description, ultimately, in the job advert? Making it succinct so a few key, critical areas, rather than a whole long list. Thinking about outcomes– so what are the key metrics that we want to get to, rather than the inputs of what kind of person you need to get to those outcomes. And also getting a sense of the mission of the organisation, and how this role fits in.
We all want to belong to something bigger, so it’s really important to help make sure, that actually, this individual can understand how they can contribute in a wider sense. The other thing we’ve learned a lot about from an inclusion perspective, actually, is that the wording in a job description will lead to certain types of candidates feeling like they can apply versus others. And so there’s a whole new field now of de-biassing of job adverts. So using technology-based platforms to scan these descriptions in order to see, are their particular terms that actually may be an either jargon– which we want to try and remove, that does doesn’t make sense.
Or actually, that maybe– from a diversity perspective– terms that are more masculine. So there’s indications of things like when we’re trying to say, you need to smash all your targets. Those sorts of words are more likely to appeal to male candidates than female candidate. How has the presentation of job descriptions changed in the context of everything happening online now? Are you seeing any changes? So I think the thing about the process of recruitment is that it allows a candidate to get a real feel for the company. Can I belong here? Is this company everything that will make me feel like I’m able to thrive?
And not having any opportunity for face-to-face takes away some of that feel that a candidate would get when they visit the offices, when they see people, and get a sense of, is there somewhere I can belong? In the context of inclusive hiring process, do you change your approach based on the different countries you operate? I know you work for global companies. Having, certainly, a diverse panel of interviewers is super helpful. I know there’s mixed feedback on that. But, in my experience, what that does is A, help someone to make sure that they understand the country culture, and therefore understand where the candidate is coming from. But also. From the candidate’s perspective, they want to see people who are like them.
And they want to see that they can be successful and that they can look up to role models. So that diverse panel can be really helpful there. How about any technology– any tools that you’re using? Actually, at Vodafone, one of things that we did was build an inclusive hiring toolkit. And that looked right from, what are the images that we are putting out to attract someone to this role? That might be before the job description. Then you’ve got the job description, and we’ve talked about de-biassing and then you go through how is it when they come for if it’s an online interview, we now– obviously– if it’s all online.
We have to nuance our approach to make sure that, actually, we really are eliminating bias. Because it’s still very possible for that to creep through, whether it’s face to face or whether it’s online. What would you suggest for others to read to maybe– what podcast should we listen to Sure. Well, there is a book that I would recommend. I’m going to put that up here it’s called What Works It’s by a Professor Iris Bohnet. She’s based in Harvard, and I had the pleasure of hearing I speak and attending one of her summits. And what she does in this book, is she outlines, again, step-by-step how it is that we need to take bias out of the systems.
So that’s what’s moved on in the diversity space. Initially there was a lot of training– we’d train people on unconscious bias. Let’s trained interviewers– before they interview– about bias. But the reality is it’s not just individual behaviours, these are built in systems, and we need to systemically take out bias Thank you very much Karina appreciate it.

Karina Govindji, global Diversity & Inclusion expert, shares her strategies aimed at identifying and limiting bias in recruitment.

Karina talks about how bias needs to be tackled systemically, starting from writing gender neutral job descriptions, to training line managers and structuring interviews to focus on competency and/or strengths-based questions that probe for the desired attitudes and behaviours.

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