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Recruiting For Diversity

September 5 2016 - Diversity consultancy The Clear Company feel that blind CVs only address symptoms of unconscious bias in recruitment, not the root cause. This view is based on research by Dr Louise Ashley of Royal Holloway, London, who found that recruiters sought out other indicators of social status on name-blind CVs with no education institution details when making hiring decisions.

The consultancy claims that disability and inclusion policies, including blind CVs, often fail in practice because they are seldom supported by an understanding of true inclusion problems. Failure to achieve lasting change means that well-intended policies become ineffective. They are viewed as tokenistic gestures and rarely supported by the workforce for long.

According to Kate Headley, Development Director at The Clear Company:

"Its common to see solutions such as the introduction of blind CVs developed to address the symptoms, but not the causes, of bias in the hiring process. CV based shortlisting is one of the most common places where bias can have an adverse impact on inclusive assessment, so removing personal data from CVs is a positive step, but its like using a plaster to cover a wound. After twelve years auditing recruitment processes for some of the UKs largest employers, we know that what lies beneath the surface of policy, process and behaviour is the real issue.

"This is often exacerbated by the simple fact that recruitment is an assumed competency for hiring managers, but few are actually trained in best practice, including how to be inclusive and what adjustments to make to accommodate those with protected characteristics. If an environment of real inclusion and diversity is to be created, businesses need to really invest in assessing their own recruitment processes and identifying what the true barriers are. Only then can they get the entire company to embrace change and ultimately shift mind-sets to support new processes."

A major study by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), Department for Work and Pensions and Institute for Employment Studies (IES) in 2008 examined recruitment trends, career aspirations and barriers faced by members of under-represented groups in the workplace.

Stephen Timms, then minister of state for employment and welfare reform, said:

"This study shows that it is vital that employers take a close look at the methods they use to attract new recruits and to appeal to all groups and not just a limited band of potential employees. Understanding the aspirations of the whole workforce is key to recruiting and retaining the best employees."

The study found that 67 per cent of 1350 managers surveyed regularly browsed job adverts. More than half (56 per cent) were actively looking for new employment. Two-thirds would consider moving if presented with the right opportunity; 28 per cent were registered with recruitment consultants.

At the time, the majority relied on newspapers to learn of job opportunities (81 per cent); 76 per cent used online job searches. Two-thirds drew on personal networks (67 per cent) or professional bodies (60 per cent). These percentages are likely to have changed since as newspaper reading has declined and social media sources such as Linkedin and Facebook have become much more important.

The report identified perceptions of prejudice as a significant factor in the wish to find new work. For example, one-third of Asian managers and 20 per cent of black managers identified racial discrimination as a barrier to career progression compared to just under 10 per cent of those from mixed ethnic background and 1 per cent of white managers.

More black managers wanted increased seniority than their white counterparts (63 per cent compared to 52 per cent). Disappointment with their current role was more prevalent among black managers (23 per cent compared to 13 per cent).

Although 77 per cent accepted their current job because of promised development opportunities only 45 per cent believed their employer had developed their skills "impressively" or "well". Ethnic minority groups felt particularly let down: Asian and black managers reported "inadequate" or "very inadequate" development (24 per cent and 22 per cent respectively) compared to 16 per cent of white managers.

Jo Causon, CMI director of marketing and corporate affairs, commented:

"Despite increasing demands for openness and transparency many of the barriers to achieving greater diversity at a senior management level persist. It should be a key concern for employers because they run the risk of wasting a talent pool that already exists."

Report author Hülya Hooker, IES research fellow, concluded:

"This study reveals what is happening in practice in the careers of managers. If organisations want management talent at the top, it's there, and in an ethnically diverse pool. Recruitment approaches must recognise that managers from different ethnic groups are attracted by different benefits. What this talent has in common, though, is a drive to be challenged, to grow, and to achieve. And if the challenge and opportunity goes, so will they. Organisations therefore need to understand and engage with what really motivates their managers, before and after recruitment - and long before they hear the rustle of the jobs pages."



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