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Four Inclusive Hiring Practices: Hiring for good with the Data for Good Program

October 2023, Melbourne


Introduction

As we’ve mentioned in one of our earlier articles (Four Steps to Using Data to Further D&I in organisations), the data and analytics (D&A) sector is no poster child for diversity. However, at GDI we’re proud to be able to say that for our first two cohorts in the Data for Good Program, we’ve had 62.5% and 50% of individuals accepted (as well as 38% for our organisation as a whole) self-identify as women, which is in above the 28% reported for the D&A sector more broadly.


There are as many starting points to furthering diversity and inclusion as there are challenges to surmount in this field. A helpful framework for thinking about DEI is intersectionality, which (according to the Victorian Commission for Gender Equality in the Public Sector):

“explains how people may experience overlapping forms of discrimination or disadvantage based on attributes such as Aboriginality; age; disability; ethnicity; gender identity; race; religion; and sexual orientation.” Although this can “[magnify] the severity and frequency of the impacts while also raising barriers to support”, giving consideration to the multiple dimensions of individuals can “provide a stronger foundation for reducing the impact of compounding disadvantage”.


Whether you’re a jobseeker or a hiring manager, read on to find out about four inclusive green flags to focus on during the hiring process.



 

1) It all starts with the job description

As Harvard Business School: Working Knowledge reports, using gender-coded language in job descriptions (such as “competitive” and “dominant”) can contribute to fewer women applying for the role. (Similarly, job descriptions that include adjectives typically coded as feminine, such as “collaborative” and “supportive” have been shown to draw fewer male applicants.) In addition to the somewhat self-evident solution of using gender-neutral language in job descriptions, it is also advisable to ensure that the list of required qualifications reflects only what is absolutely necessary to succeed in the role – restraint at this stage in the recruitment process could paradoxically lead to more choice at the next stage, as some people may not apply unless they meet all qualifications.



This is why at GDI…

We have taken care to emphasise skills and attitude over accolades when describing who we’re looking for to join the Data for Good program, as well as state upfront our commitment to diversity and inclusion.


If you’re a jobseeker…

Feeling burnt out from the application process, it could be a good idea to focus on applying for roles where the description makes you feel welcomed and encouraged.


If you’re a hiring manager…

Review your job description for gendered language and consider which of the listed requirements are absolutely necessary for a candidate to be successful in the role – remove any that are not to attract the broadest pool of candidates. Tools such as Applied and Textio (as well Karat for the tech sector) could be helpful.


 

2) Standardise the interview process

There are as many ideas about the ‘best candidate’ as there are members of the hiring team. Therefore, the importance of a clear framework for the interview process has been noted by several DEI thought leaders, including Lily Zheng and Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio.


Standardising the interview process can look differently for different roles; however, in general, the key lies in creating a detailed, standardised scoring rubric that is used for evaluating performance in a structured interview. Then, depending on the role, it could be worthwhile to give a work sample test and rank the criteria.


This is why at GDI…

We ask all interviewees the same 3 open-ended questions and their responses are scored against a detailed rubric – this gives all candidates an opportunity to share about a broad range of their personal and professional experiences.


If you’re a jobseeker…

Who is unsuccessful at a job interview where the interviewer did not appear to be using a set list of questions, consider the possibility that this may be a reflection of the hiring team’s biases; instead of letting this one experience define your evaluation of your abilities, consider it alongside any other feedback you may have received throughout your career and job search.


If you’re a hiring manager…

Create a framework for interviewing candidates, where each candidate is asked the same set of questions in the same order to ensure that every candidate has the same opportunity to demonstrate why they’re a great fit for the role.


 

3) Diversify the interview panel

Diverse panels are somewhat of a staple when it comes to inclusive hiring practices, given our propensity as humans to favour the similar, even during the recruitment process. Therefore, diversification of the interview panel is suggested as a key step to minimising the power of this bias.


Furthermore, Wall Street Journal reports that diversification of interview panels “not only ensures applicants meet a broad range of individuals, but also tends to result in a more varied set of questions and a deeper, farther-reaching conversation”.


This is why at GDI…

Each interviewee meets with 3 members of our diverse community.


If you’re a jobseeker…

Remember that the interview is there to inform your decision-making too and consider whether the makeup of the interview panel reflects an organisation you believe you could thrive at. (Also, similarly to the takeaway from the previous point, consider the ability of a homogeneous panel to evaluate candidates constructively.)


If you’re a hiring manager…

Consider inviting colleagues from underrepresented backgrounds to the interview panel or setting diversity guidelines, such as that a panel should include at least one woman and one person of colour.


 

4) Data, Data, and more Data

Can you think of an area of business where success is evaluated based on intentions rather than outcomes? As Lily Zheng explains in detail in Chapter 1: Intentions aren’t enough of DEI Deconstructed, there is little reason that diversity and inclusion efforts should fall into this scarce category.


Not only can data be invaluable in evaluating whether hiring practices are having the desired effect in terms of diversity and inclusion, data can also play an important role in ensuring that your diversity and inclusion strategy is localised. This often begins with ensuring that data on identity, especially race and ethnicity, is being gathered in accordance with local practices and regulations – otherwise, there is the danger of “[imposing] cookie-cutter tactics that risk replicating the very dynamics of cultural imperialism that DEI seeks to challenge”.


This is why at GDI…

We have an internal DEI dashboard that we review and share insights from regularly. Furthermore, our demographic questions also include free text responses to ensure that a dominant understanding of identity is not being (inadvertently) imposed.


If you’re a jobseeker…

Answer demographic questions in the application and any post-interview surveys in as much detail as you feel comfortable sharing – assume that this information will be used to make the process more inclusive and equitable for those coming after you.


If you’re a hiring manager…

Ensure that you are using data to inform the choice and subsequently measure the impact of diversity and inclusion initiatives you implement throughout the hiring process.


 

Our Learnings at GDI

At GDI, we’re committed to inclusive hiring practices and we’re continuously learning from reviewing our internal DEI dashboard. For example, in reflecting on our latest Data for Good cohort, only 27% of the selected individuals self-identified as women, but, unlike with our previous cohorts, the selected individuals were from more different age groups. Moving forward we intend to be more intentional during the sourcing and attracting stage, as well as to be more transparent.


Closing Thoughts

Thus, reviewing job descriptions and interview panels, as well as standardising the interview process and informing your approach with high-quality data analysis will lead to the most inclusive and effective hiring process.

This is how at GDI we hire for collaboration, ethical impact and retention; this is how we hire for good with the Data for Good program.


Author:

Berta Karaim (GDI Fellow)






About GDI:

The Good Data Institute (established 2019) is a registered not-for-profit organisation (ABN: 6664087941) that aims to give not-for-profits access to data analytics (D&A) support & tools. Our mission is to be the bridge between the not-for-profit world and the world of data analytics practitioners wishing to do social good. Using D&A, we identify, share, and help implement the most effective means for growing NFP people, organisations, and their impact.



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