Companies looking to emulate Lloyds Banking Group and fill 40 per cent of their senior roles with women by 2020, will need to change the way they recruit. Despite greater diversity of the workforce being something most major organisations are striving for, many still struggle to achieve it.
This is because many recruitment practices in place unwittingly have systemic sexism built in, for instance having interview styles and application processes that deter women or procedures that don’t identify problems.
Technology will be crucial if companies are to eliminate such gender bias, improve the diversity of workforces and reduce levels of discrimination. To avoid interviewer bias, some e-recruitment systems can anonymise candidates so the interviewer can’t see personal details when assessing applications.
It is also possible to efficiently involve multiple selectors in the candidate review process, but prevent them from seeing each other’s feedback – a technique favoured by many keen to ensure genuine independent thinking among selectors.
Different job offer rates among interviewers, all other things being equal, suggests some kind of bias. E-recruitment systems can monitor this. So if one interviewer is offering jobs to 30 per cent less women than another, their interview skills can be examined and training provided.
Furthermore, to combat the problem of line managers who tend to select people in their own image, technology enables HR managers to remotely interview candidates so that their influence is more powerfully felt in the process.
E-recruitment systems are also able to track success by identifying media which delivers a higher proportion of female applicants and monitoring candidates throughout the application process – so that moments when candidates drop out can be analysed.
With just three female executives in the FTSE100, and the percentage of women joining boards standing at just 17.3 per cent, it can’t be business as usual if companies are to see a significant increase to gender diversity at senior management level.
Few organisations set out to discriminate against women but there is no escaping that at senior management level, women are under represented. If we are to see a significant change over a short period of time, organisations must look at their recruitment process and all the tools at their disposal to find where women are being needlessly disadvantaged. I am not advocating positive discrimination, but there is no reason why bias that has unwittingly built up into recruitment processes over many years cannot now be removed.