gender-neutral hiring process

Moving towards a gender-neutral hiring process

7952 5304 Mridvika Raisinghani
Image: Shutterstock

New Harvard findings show our technology-based approach is levelling the playing field for female job seekers in India.

One of the main reasons we started Shortlist was to help eliminate the biases that so many job seekers face during their application process. This is especially true for female candidates, who continue to encounter bias and discrimination—sometimes due to reasons that are unconscious to hiring managers. So how do you introduce objectivity into such a human endeavor to create a gender-neutral hiring process?

Imagine all the different steps involved in the screening process alone. Each one has historically been tilted in favour of male applicants: from the user interface that candidates experience (usually developed by male designers), to the wording used in application questions (full of male-gendered language like “ninja”), to opportunities for candidates to self-report their strengths (men consistently overstate these relative to women) to the signals employers are given by recruitment teams (usually leading with the name, not the assessment results).

One of the founding principles behind Shortlist is to move away from the archaic CV-driven recruitment process to a world where candidates are given the opportunity to demonstrate their competencies and fit for a role. We believe that technology isn’t a panacea to eliminate all bias in recruitment, but when used correctly, can be a powerful tool for helping create a gender-neutral hiring process that supports trained human resource teams to produce significantly more objective and ultimately better-performing hiring outcomes.

New independent and peer-reviewed research, published in partnership with Shell Foundation and the UK’s Department for International Development, provides fresh evidence that we’re on the right track in our goal to eliminate gender bias in the recruitment process.

As part of their Masters in Public Administration programme at Harvard, Rachel Levenson and Layla O’Kane spent weeks analysing the Shortlist hiring process in India to help understand how a technology-based approach to hiring, underpinned by competency-based assessments, would affect the gender breakdown of the candidates we submit to clients for interviewing and hiring. Levenson and O’Kane statistically analysed key metrics in our candidate database, reviewed our screening logic, and spoke to our recruitment teams, clients, and jobseekers. They also analysed the broader Indian job market to establish a baseline around gender inclusion to help place conclusions about Shortlist’s model in context.

We didn’t know what they would find.

The paper that resulted from this work, “Gender Inclusion in Hiring in India,” has validated that Shortlist’s approach provides a gender-neutral hiring process for candidates. What does this mean? Among several other key conclusions, the researchers found no signs of gender bias in the evaluative stages of the hiring process. Once women complete their application, they are equally likely as men to be shortlisted for the job.

The authors also developed other key insights about gender in the recruitment process, including the reality that women are more likely to apply to jobs for which they meet all the minimum selection criteria as compared to male applicants. This insight points to the drawbacks of employers including a laundry list of “nice to haves” masquerading as “requirements” in their job description. We’d encourage you to read the full paper, or at least the Policy Brief.

At Shortlist, we’re proud that over 70% of our leadership team and 65% of our overall employee base is female. While many of our clients use Shortlist specifically to help diversify their teams, we know that we still have a long way to go.

For instance, we need better data to point to the performance of female candidates to prove to skeptical hiring managers what we already know from seemingly endless anecdotal evidence and decades of combined experience in management and recruitment: that on-the-job performance is a function of competency, intelligence and attitude, not gender.

The researchers themselves highlighted several gender-related questions worthy of additional research, including how to attract and hire women who are seeking to re-enter the workforce after family leave. We also need to examine the organisations that have created a gender-diverse workforce across seniority levels and the practices they used to achieve this. We also need better data and examples that point to how we can reduce bias in the recruitment process for other minorities, such as LGBT or disabled candidates, both of which face discrimination when applying in many markets.

This research has pointed to ways in which we can meaningfully foster a gender-neutral hiring process during recruitment. At Shortlist, we’re actively working to further improve our process, including helping to diversify the workforce of sectors like energy that have traditionally been dominated by men. We’ll be highlighting examples of employer best practices and using data to connect the dots between recruitment practices and on-the-job performance.

Send us your ideas and watch this space as we continue our journey to level the playing field for jobseekers.

If You Are Hiring,Let us Help You

employer brand

What is your employer brand and why does it matter?

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You’re probably already familiar with the idea of a company brand — the reputation you have to the outside world based on your products, team, website and logo, history, office and more. But what is an employer brand?

Your employer brand is defined by the public image of your workplace culture and how you’re viewed as an employer by former, current and prospective employees. In today’s increasingly competitive and candidate-centric job market, it’s absolutely essential for companies to cultivate a positive employer brand to attract and retain exceptional talent.

In order to help employers in this pursuit, we’re kicking off a campaign that’s going to teach you everything you need to know about creating and maintaining an excellent employer brand (sign up for our weekly newsletter here to receive all the content straight to your inbox). To start it off, here’s an overview of the “why.”

Your next hire is going to care

A favorable employee brand is a powerful tool that helps recruit and retain talent. According to Glassdoor, 84% of job seekers say the reputation of a company as an employer is important when making a decision on where to apply for a job. As professionals seek out new opportunities, they will want to join a company that matches their values, work style preferences, offers the compensation and benefits they prioritize, and more. All of these concrete aspects, along with more intangible emotional elements, are rolled up into your employer brand.

The good news is that your employer brand doesn’t just materialize passively. You can take steps to actively craft and maintain an brand identity and as a result, supercharge your recruitment capacity with measurable outcomes.

A recent survey showed that 94% of candidates are likely to apply to a job if a company actively manages its employer brand, and that companies with positive employer branding get twice as many applications as companies with negative brands perceptions. So by treating your employer brand as a strategic priority, you can actually attract a higher volume of top talent to your company and improve the capacity of your teams.

And you don’t just have to take the job-seeker’s word for it! 72% of recruiting leaders worldwide agreed that employer brand has a notable impact on hiring, and 26% of executives said that it was actually the most important recruiting advantage for global organizations.

Where to focus? Online and word-of-mouth are both key

According to a recent study by LinkedIn, the primary obstacle candidates face when searching for a job is not knowing what it’s like to work at an organization. Where do they go for this information? Online. When attempting to learn more about an employer, over half of candidates said that they would first seek out the company’s sites and then their social media handles to learn more.

Clearly, an organisation’s digital presence is key to making a great first impression on talent. Throughout our campaign, we’ll share tips on how to maximize your employer brand through your online platforms including your website, social media posts, LinkedIn and Glassdoor pages, digital job descriptions and more.

But building a solid employer brand can’t just be done online. The same LinkedIn report explained that candidates trust the company’s employees three times more than the company itself to provide credible information on what it’s like to work there. So stay tuned for ideas from us on how to engage your current employees to be excellent brand ambassadors to prospective candidates.

There are financial benefits, too!

In case you’re not already sold, building a strong employer brand can also help you save money and increase recruitment and company efficiency. By boldly and accurately expressing who they are and its workplace culture, a company with a strong employer brand attracts ‘right-fit’ candidates, which decreases the chances of hiring mistakes and as a result, lowers time to hire.

A recent study by LinkedIn found that organisations with strong employer branding incurred half the cost per hire of companies compared to organisation with poor or no employer brands. They also enjoy a 28 percent increase in retention, which is also key to saving time and money (and boosting productivity and morale!).

What’s the catch? Building a strong employer brand is a marathon, not a sprint

As lucrative as employer branding sounds, it is a long-term investment. It is crucial to keep in mind that a company’s brand cannot be created or changed overnight as it takes time to develop and evolve in order to project an authentic brand.

Stay tuned!

We’re excited to share fresh and actionable employer identity resources with you over the next several months. To receive all of our top tips straight to your inbox, sign up for our weekly newsletter here!

Anything specific about employer branding that you’re hoping to learn? Let us know in the comments below.

Employer branding tips for Kenyan companies

Download our survey report for actionable insights from 1,200+ Kenyan professionals

kenya talent acquisition trends 2019

Talent acquisition trends 2019: Top seven in Kenya

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Shortlist surveyed 200+ talent recruiting decision-makers across Kenya to understand the top talent acquisition trends for 2019. The respondents were equally split between HR and Hiring Managers and ranged from micro organisations with less than 25 employees to large corporates with over 1000 employees.

Here are the top seven talent acquisition trends for 2019 in Kenya that the survey revealed:

Insight #1: Attracting quality talent was a key challenge for Kenyan companies in 2018

Attracting quality talent was a top challenge across most functions and organisation sizes. This was especially the case for large organisations as 63% of respondents from companies with over 500 employees cited it as a challenge.

The current job market swings heavily in favour of quality candidates, and these candidates know how in-demand they are. If organisations don’t market properly as employers, they might lose the quality talent to the competition.

Our research on Hiring in Kenya found that high performers can generate up to 7 times the annual margin of low performers and nearly twice that of medium performers. This makes hiring quality talent critical for organisational performance.

It’s time for organisations to critically assess how attractive or appealing they are to high-quality applicants. Employer branding, candidate experience and talent pipelining need to take centre stage.

The secret to attracting high-quality applicants is to differentiate oneself from other industry players, and showing top talent how joining the organisation can help them reach their career goals. Companies are increasingly required to pay more attention to their employer brand to differentiate themselves and stand out. Therefore, it was no surprise that upon investigating the challenges faced by most companies in 2018, attracting quality talent topped the list, beating out candidate sourcing and assessments among the important Kenya talent acquisition trends for 2019.

Insight #2: Improving efficiency of hiring is top among Kenya talent acquisition trends for 2019

Given the pace of change and the constant pressure to save costs, it is not surprising that managers across industries identified improving the efficiency of the recruitment process as top among the Kenya talent acquisition trends for 2019. Improving hiring efficiency is crucial for employers as it lowers hiring costs, improves the quality of hires and reduces the time spent in the hiring process.

Our research showed that organisations receive 200 CVs on average per role advertised, with some organisations occasionally receiving as many as 5,000 CVs for each role! Time is the primary cost driver especially since interviewing takes up to 19 hours while CV screening and shortlisting take up to 18 hours per role.

Screening and shortlisting should ideally be less time-consuming and the time saved can be reallocated to other tasks requiring a more human touch. There is a need to effectively manage the high volume of applications received (mainly due to the use of online job boards) by leveraging on technology to provide effective solutions for efficient screening.

Insight #3: Companies are leveraging on technology in their recruitment

While technology has found its way into the HR ecosystem, most organisations in Kenya are not fully leveraging on technology; 67% of organisations are using technology during sourcing, and this number drops drastically to 18% during onboarding. Adoption of technology at the sourcing stage does not translate to improvements in the interview stage because of a high volume of unfiltered candidates getting to the interview stage.

Adoption of technology during the assessment and screening stages need to increase for organisations to be able to improve the efficiency of their hires. The utilisation of technology during the hiring process is most effective when used at the sourcing, screening and assessment stages, as this narrows down the number of applicants to those with the highest potential for the job, thus saving both interviewers and interviewees time.

At Shortlist, we help employers navigate the hiring process by using evidence-based digital methods that identify the most qualified candidates for the position from the vast pool of applications sent before proceeding to in-person interviews.

Insight #4: SMEs leverage on technology more in the hiring process

Our research found that SMEs leverage technology more than larger organisations. This is probably because SMEs often have limited bandwidth in their recruitment teams. They, therefore, turn to technology to make up for this deficit. In the past, the large corporates had a built-in advantage of advertising widely for roles simply because they could afford it.

There was no way that an SME could spend the kinds of money needed to use traditional advertising and spread the word in the same way that the established titans could. Hence there was a clear demarcation within the business world between the haves and have-nots.

Technology has blurred those lines to the point where it’s difficult even to see where they once existed. In particular, social media has given the opportunity to small businesses to advertise their vacancies in much the same way that business giants can.

Insight #5: Sales top the list for the most important position to fill in 2019

Nearly half of our respondents listed sales as the top position to fill in their companies this year. There could be several reasons for this. One could be the general attrition rate in sales; the voluntary turnover rate for salespeople is generally higher than for other positions. When salespeople aren’t happy in an organisation, they are more likely to leave than other employees.

Sales is a naturally stressful and performance-demanding job, so attrition will usually be higher because assessing performance for sales unlike other jobs, is in-your-face. This is also exacerbated by the fact that most employers don’t have a well-designed, mature sales process; hence performance is more dependent on employee quality.

On top of that, many companies face challenges finding the right talent for their sales teams and often end up making the wrong hire costing the company time and money. Right job fit has a massive impact on sales staff turnover as employees with ‘right fit’ have a stronger motivation and positive attitude towards their role making them more productive, effective and tend to stay longer.

Having a challenge with assessing for job fit? Read more on how we think about assessments: The Art and Science of Assessments

Insight #6: 96% of companies plan to increase their hiring volume this year

Kenyan businesses ushered in 2019 with a high sense of optimism for business growth. 96% of our survey respondents expressed the intention of increasing their rate of hiring. 52% of the respondents expect their organisations to increase their hiring volume by 20% or more!

While making more hires can be a sign of company growth, it is important for companies to remember that quality hires are the key to the growth of the business. To improve in this area, companies need to update their hiring processes constantly to attract the best candidates.

Insight #7: Hiring managers are looking for a good balance of soft and hard skills

When evaluating who they will hire in 2019, 44 % of respondents rated the candidate’s business skills, experience and job skills as very important. While business skills may get one’s foot in the door, employers are typically looking for a more balanced employee who also possesses soft skills that are not readily apparent on a CV.

Talent Acquisition Trends for 2019  – Conclusions:

Sourcing and hiring talent can be a difficult, expensive and time-consuming process. Our survey revealed that most organisations are looking to become more efficient and increase the quality of their hires. To get ahead and ensure they secure the best talent, companies need to embrace new recruitment strategies and incorporate technology in the recruitment process.

Download the complete e-book: Talent Acquisition Trends for 2019.

Want to learn more about the Kenya talent acquisition trends for 2019? Download the full report here.

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Onboarding Ideas: 3 Fun Tips for Startups and SMEs

1572 1056 Olivia Wold

Great onboarding isn’t just for corporates with big budgets! Build an effective and affordable orientation program with these free and fun onboarding ideas.

Onboarding is a crucial part of recruitment, but often feels like an afterthought once you’re done with the screening, selection, and the offer process. As a super busy startup or SME, it might seem unattainable to dedicate even more team time and resources for onboarding.

onboarding ideas
Credit: Criene Images/Twenty20

However, you may want to reconsider. In addition to making new joiners feel excited and welcomed, quality onboarding processes have been proven to increase employee engagement, productivity, and satisfaction, and reduce turnover and absenteeism in the long run.

How to begin? In partnership with the Shell Foundation, we created a starter guide to help you build an effective and affordable onboarding program. Here are three of our favorite fun and free onboarding ideas for you to incorporate today!

Tip #1: Create an informative and fun welcome packet to prep new joiners ahead of time

Create a packet of key information that you share with the new joiner a week ahead of their start date. It can be anywhere from a one-pager to a lengthier document, to a video, and you can update it and re-use it over the years.

Some onboarding ideas for what to include in your welcome packet:

  • Your mission and vision statements.
  • A timeline of key company milestones and fun facts about your founding story
  • An overview of your key products with images and feature descriptions
  • Case studies that demonstrate your impact on customers and/or society
  • Organizational chart with names, pictures, and titles, so they can get a head start on learning names!

For bonus points: Print out your PDF and send it to your new joiner’s house so they can flip through it more easily. Everyone loves deliveries!

Tip #2: Time your existing company events to create an engaging and busy first few weeks

Does your team already hold regularly occurring internal events? These could include all-company gatherings (like Town Halls or leadership Q&As), functional team meetings (like brainstorms or check-ins), or social events (like a monthly happy hour).

Try planning your team calendar so that these events and meetings occur during your new joiners’ first two weeks at the company. With a little bit of advance planning or rearranging (and no extra cost), you’ve beefed up your new joiner’s onboarding agenda with fun and engaging events that help them dive right into your company culture and routines.

For bonus points: Load these events into your new joiner’s calendar so, on their first day, they see lots of fun activities already planned for them.

Tip #3: Pair the new joiner with a buddy

Setting up your new joiner with a buddy gives them an automatic friend on their first day! Ask for team members to volunteer to commit 2–3 hours in the next three months to be a buddy. Ideally, the buddy is familiar enough with your organization (over 6 months tenure) that they can explain team policies and culture, and are not the new joiner’s manager. Once you’ve selected a buddy, here are some activity ideas:

  • Introduce the buddy and new joiner over email about a week before they join, giving the buddy an opportunity to welcome the new joiner and share any informal tips before their first day.
  • Set up a lunch or coffee between the buddy and new joiner on their second or third day, so they have someone to share questions and observations with after the initial deluge of information.
  • Ask the buddy to schedule a one-month and three-month check-in with the new joiner, so that they don’t feel like onboarding stops at activities of the first week!

For bonus points: Try to identify a common interest or trait between the buddy and new joiner, which can help as an ice-breaker. Make sure to go beyond the obvious (e.g., same university) to highlight that team members at your company strive to connect over shared interests and behaviors that go deeper than surface-level.

Thanks for checking out our top onboarding ideas for startups and SMEs!

Download the complete e-book:

Download our e-book Onboarding Your New Hires: A (Practical!) Starter Guide for more onboarding information, tools and templates.

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Announcing our $2 Million Series A

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I’m proud to announce today that Shortlist has raised $2 million from an incredible group of investors, led by our longtime partner Blue Haven Initiative, with participation from Compass Venture Capital, existing investor Zephyr Acorn, and several others. This funding will allow us build out our vision for how companies in Africa and India build their teams, grounded in the belief that potential and motivation matter more than a CV, and that both companies and job-seekers deserve better than the status quo.

Team Shortlist Kenya

Just as a tech wave has disrupted a range of other sectors, a digital transformation is changing the world of HR and recruiting. These are exciting times! But a lot of this innovation is missing something essential, and (nearly) all of it is built for markets other than ours.

These days, most of the sound bites about HR tech champion artificial intelligence and machine learning as the chief protagonists of the revolution. No doubt, a variety of companies are changing the lives of hiring managers by pulling information from CVs more efficiently, scraping keyword data from social networks like LinkedIn, and applying natural language processing to job descriptions. While impressive, this approach runs the risk of a classic “garbage in, garbage out” conundrum: job descriptions are often thoughtless cut-and-paste efforts, CVs are just retrospectives and miss potential, and LinkedIn keywords are self-reported and unvalidated — do we really think crunching all these is the best way for companies to find that perfect fit?

There’s an even bigger disconnect in emerging markets, where a burgeoning youth demographic is entering the workforce without elite university or corporate experience, without great CVs, without 1,000 connections on LinkedIn. There are more people entering the workforce in Africa alone in the next ten years than the rest of the world combined — yes, combined — and if we don’t find new ways to identify hidden talent, companies won’t be able to build the teams they need to succeed, and the youth bulge will have a hard time finding a steady job, let alone unlocking their potential.

Team Shortlist Mumbai

We’re building Shortlist to be a scalable way to collect signals that really matter, like demonstrated skills, interests, aspirations, work style preferences, and motivation — and use them to match the right jobseeker with the right company at the right time.

We’re deeply proud of the product that we’ve built, which makes it delightfully easy to customize a digital job application that gets to know candidates beyond just their past experience. We’re also humbled to be trusted by more than 300 clients and 400,000+ jobseekers. But we’re just getting started. There’s so much more we want to build to get to know candidates better — their passions, personalities, and potential — and to use that data to find them jobs they love. We’re already hard at work coming up with new ways to bring top talent into the Shortlist community, to get to know them with a mix of digital and offline experiences, and to organize that data for easy use by employers who are looking to hire not just faster and cheaper, but also better.

Team Shortlist Hyderabad

We believe in a future where every team is comprised of the best-fit professionals, the job application process is human, transparent, and fair, and professional potential is unlocked across Africa and India — and beyond! We’re so grateful to have a group of dedicated investors who believe in this future too, and are joining the adventure.

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