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Using data to foster inclusive hiring

June 10, 2021
Kylie Mcintyre

When we wrote our D&I focused white paper last summer, ‘Levelling the Playing Field’, our goal was to lay out a new set of standards for inclusive and fair hiring and development. At the end of May, Sova’s Dr. Alan Bourne spoke at Inclusive.Hiring about methods for levelling the playing field through fair assessment in recruitment and career progression.

Many sets of guidelines on managing or improving diversity in the workplace were written before the age of data. Without updated guidance that’s fit for today’s workplaces, companies have struggled to make a real difference. ‘You can’t fix what you can’t see’ says Alan. But thanks to the volumes of data now available to us, our EDI strategies can be guided by real time information.

That said, there is still a huge amount to be done to turn the dial in three key areas of EDI:

  1. Access to, and protection of, employment
  2. Fair treatment at work
  3. Equal opportunity and fair remuneration

Why is it so hard to shift the dial?

The biggest enemy is indifference, says Alan. If leadership believes that bias has already been dealt with then there is little appetite for further investment. The second biggest threat to progress is setting the bar too low: Guidelines that set minimum standards should be a bare minimum rather than an aspirational target. Other barriers include broad groupings of populations such as BAME (which will have differences within the group), and reliance on piecemeal initiatives that focus on one element of diversity. These may deliver short-lived improvements but not systematic change with meaningful cultural impact across the organisation.

The Sova EDI maturity model

We know that while there is no lack of intent when it comes to EDI, many organisations still struggle to make sustained efforts over time. Through our experience of working with many organisations on their journey to becoming more inclusive, we’ve developed a methodology for pinpointing the maturity of an organisation’s approach to EDI.

The Sova EDI maturity model includes the methods and tactics you might be using in hiring and development depending on whether your organisation is working within the status quo or, at the other end of the scale, is optimising diversity and inclusion through a joined-up approach.

Using the summary graphic below, where do you think your organisation stands? Where would you like to get to and what would need to change in order to progress?

Maturity Model

Using data as the guide for a roadmap to fair assessment

It’s our belief that in order to reach an optimised approach to EDI, that you need to make use of data. The four steps below demonstrate the need to objectively consider fairness and inclusivity at every stage of the assessment process.

  1. Define what good looks like for your organisation. This needs to be through a wide lens and with the scope of diversity in mind. Rather than addressing one aspect, think about what diverse talent means as a whole. Consider the way you describe what you’re looking for and how that could be exclusive if it’s framed without thought to diversity.
  2. Choose assessment techniques that are the fairest. Have an inclusive approach to design and gather insight about how your process design will be interpreted. Questions and assessment content need to be objective and not discriminate based on access to certain knowledge which is exclusive to some.
  3. Access to real time metrics. Monitor the success of your assessment process thoroughly. To see the whole picture, you need sight of all the assessments in your process and across all groups.
  4. Intelligent analytics. Use analytics to work out which part of your journey, or which questions and content are working fairly, and which are not. Lay out the parts of your process shown to be generating unfair responses and consider whether to change them or remove them.

Thank you to all who participated and fed into this discussion. If you’d like to learn more about designing a fair and inclusive assessment process, we’re pleased to announce that Sova will soon be launching an online course on this topic via the Sova Community.

Sign-up for Sova’s new D&I online course

Through the Sova Community you’ll be able to access our new D&I focused course. Our online forum is a place for learning, sharing of ideas and experiences, and a community of practice with the common goal of changing assessment for good. To access this course and others, sign up below.

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