Over the years, the term ‘diversity’ became somewhat of a corporate buzzword. Many companies preached it, but only a few put in the effort to practice equality in recruitment. 

However, it seems like an enhanced cultural awareness, coupled with technological advances in AI, is helping agencies create a more equal and inclusive recruitment process. More specifically, the rise of RecTech is helping organisations reduce recruitment discrimination. 

Unconscious bias in the workplace has finally been recognised as a palpable issue and many companies are now striving to become as diverse as possible, not only in terms of gender or race but also sexual orientation or disability, amongst other historically marginalised groups. 

An organisation with an ethnically and culturally diverse workforce is 33% more likely to reap higher profits. Although ethnic and gender diversity is clearly linked to a higher level of profitability, minority groups continue to be unrepresented in the workplace. Diversity isn’t just linked to higher profits, it also allows companies to attract higher talent, and correlates with better customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision making. 

Tackling unconscious bias 

Before we explore how RecTech helps agencies reduce recruitment discrimination, we should examine what unconscious bias is, how it can be tackled, and why it hinders organisations. 

Unconscious bias recruitment is when we allow ourselves to make decisions intuitively before we’re aware of the consequences. These pre-formed judgments can be either positive or negative, however, they remain unconscious. 

Although humans like to believe that all our decisions are driven by logical arguments, the truth is that our unconscious thoughts tend to influence our conscious decisions. We innately make assumptions based on personal preferences and first impressions, whether this is a name, hometown or even CV/LinkedIn picture. 

We can tackle recruitment discrimination in more ways than one. It’s imperative that you analyse every step of the recruitment cycle and identify which areas are suffering from unconscious bias. 

It starts by becoming aware of our biases and recognising them for what they are. You may form preconceived judgements against someone who comes from a non-traditional background, or you may even eliminate someone from the recruitment process simply because they took a year-long career break. 

This becomes a hindrance to organisations because they could be missing out on someone who is greatly skilled and perfect for the role. Biased opinions in both permanent and temp recruitment lead to less diverse teams, and ultimately, a less productive workforce. 

Fostering a workplace that values diversity and inclusion is simply better for business. When employees from diverse backgrounds come together, they provide a plethora of experiences and perspectives that help create more innovative solutions.

Similarly, when employees feel represented and supported, they perform to their full potential. This leads to a higher cash flow per employee, higher profits and, ultimately, a higher enterprise value with a competitive edge over non-diverse organisations. 

The role of AI in recruitment  

Although we can begin tackling unconscious bias recruitment by identifying preconceived judgements, recruitment technology, or RecTech, is a fantastic tool that can further mitigate the lack of diversity in workplaces. 

Recruitment technology can help us cover basic biases by hiding applicants’ pictures or posting job ads in multiple search engines. Skill tests can also be employed to ensure that hiring is based primarily on talent rather than discriminatory prejudices. 

However, AI recruitment can further enhance equality and diversity in recruitment by using data to broaden outreach and funnel potential candidates. Sentiment analytics, respondent preference assessment and behaviour monitoring can also be used to target the most skilled and qualified candidates without any biases. 

Recruitment agencies use big data, analytics, and AI to support recruiters with their diversity efforts. An ATS (applicant tracking system) can process data from various channels to ensure that the recruitment process is compliant with internal objectives and gender diversity regulations. It can identify hiring patterns and reduce any trends that lean towards unconscious bias recruitment. 

Nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning that although AI recruitment is more efficient at tackling recruitment discrimination, it doesn’t mean it is completely non-partisan. For example, an algorithm could be biased by advertising high-paying jobs to more men over women, simply because men are most likely to apply for these jobs and therefore click on the ad. 

Why contract recruitment struggles with diversity & inclusion

Companies are making an effort to promote equality & diversity in recruitment but an area that still struggles with this critical issue is contingent recruitment. Many organisations view their contract labour as stand-in workers that don’t provide as much value as permanent members of the team. 

Staffing Industry Analysts reported that almost two-thirds of HR professionals believed diversity and inclusion should be prioritised when hiring permanent employees whilst only a quarter held the same beliefs for contingent workers. However, contingent recruitment should still focus on hiring diverse individuals because these employees contribute to the larger organisational strategy and continue to fulfil vital business objectives. 

A diverse contractor recruitment strategy will provide wider access to skilled talent and promote a more inclusive organisation, which in turn is more likely to attract more talent and even boost your ROI for contingent work. If your organisation is viewed as diverse in characteristics such as age, gender, and race, you’ll position yourself as a more attractive choice for candidates. 

Many freelancers or temporary workers develop long-standing relationships with in-house teams and, therefore, they too should be considered important. Not only this, but many employees that entered the workforce through freelance recruitment end up becoming permanent members of staff. For this reason, diversity within gig recruitment should form part of your overall talent strategy. 

There are various short-term and long-term mechanisms that can be used to enhance diversity in contract recruitment. You can create supplier diversity programs, set diversity goals for contingent recruitment, review diversity data within contractor recruitment, and even use RecTech to reduce the impact of recruitment discrimination.coloured paperchain people diversity and inclusion