August 17, 2021

How AI Helps HR Achieve Gender Equality in Hiring

Since the pandemic, gender equality in the workplace has become a critical issue. 

Although women represented more than 50 percent of the country’s workforce before the pandemic, many fell behind in their careers during the health crisis, with more than three million women laid off or otherwise leaving their employment, reports Megan Cerullo, business reporter at CBS Money Watch. 

As the economy recovers, women will be returning to work, and it will be up to companies to help them regain the ground they lost. Talent acquisition will be critical to that progress, but hiring practices often put women at a disadvantage, explains a team of researchers at McKinsey & Company.

That’s why hiring teams need to examine their talent-acquisition processes and implement the following changes to promote gender equality in the workplace. 

Cast a Wider Net to Find Female Candidates

To reach more female candidates, you may need to broaden your talent pools. This is where AI-backed talent-acquisition tools can be especially useful. 

For one, these tools can analyze current applicant sources for gender biases which HR could then correct. For example, if your searches focus only on candidates from leading universities or Fortune 200 companies, you are pulling from a less-diverse pool of talent. By relaxing those search criteria, you can source more female candidates based on their proven track records rather than limited criteria such as where they went to school. 

The software can also provide data points about where to geographically source more female applicants so you know where to focus your recruiting efforts. This may illuminate talent pools of women you hadn’t considered before.

Write Inclusive Job Descriptions

Gender-neutral job descriptions are key to encouraging women to apply for jobs. They are often the first interaction a candidate has with your company, so it’s important to use inclusive language when writing them. “Avoid gender-coded words such as ‘aggressive,’ ‘ninja,’ or ‘dominate,’” explains Candace Bridges, diversity, inclusion, and employer brand leader at Schneider Electric.

AI-powered programs can also help eliminate gender bias in job descriptions by helping you:

  • Omit pronouns.
  • Write gender-neutral, descriptive job titles like “marketing manager.”
  • List only the must-have requirements for a position. 

In taking these steps, you reduce the chances that women will deem themselves unfit for the role and pass up applying for the opportunity. 

Remove Identifying Information From Resumes and Applications

Another way to eliminate conscious or unconscious gender bias in hiring is to remove identifying information from resumes and applications. 

AI-powered talent acquisition platforms can redact or remove information such as names, pronouns, and experiences that allude to an applicant’s gender. This makes the resume-screening process more objective and inclusive to all qualified candidates, regardless of gender. 

office worker in business attire in starting position on an outdoor track; Gender equality and AI in hiring concept

Use a Scorecard to Grade Candidates

Another way to make hiring more equitable to women is to use scorecards to evaluate candidates. 

Managers and HR work together to identify the core competencies for a position and then use AI to build a scorecard based on those predetermined criteria for job success. The applicants who score the highest, regardless of gender, would move beyond the applicant screening phase of the hiring process. 

Scorecards can also be used to devise role-specific interview questions that eliminate the potential for bias in the interview phase. 

Build Diverse Interview Panels

In order to fairly evaluate all candidates in the interview phase, establish diverse interview panels. They should include interviewers of different genders, ethnicities, and ages to mitigate bias in the interview. 

Diverse interview panels played a key role in Intel’s efforts to increase the diversity of its workforce. In 2014, the company began requiring that interview panels include at least two women and/or members of underrepresented groups. By 2016, the company’s workforce was 45 percent women or people of color, up from 32 percent in 2014.

“Implementing diverse hiring panels has enabled us to cast a wider net at the outset of the hiring process and systematically help reduce unconscious bias in our hiring,” said Danielle Brown, former vice president of human resources and group chief human resources officer at Intel.

Track the Progress of Gender Equality Efforts

“Data is essential to advancing gender equity,” writes Ricarda Ganjam, management consultant at Accenture. It can be used to “identify trends across the workforce, reveal gaps or disparities, and identify opportunities for improvement.” 

To that end, capture and analyze data at every step of the talent-acquisition process to ensure you are making progress in advancing gender equality in your organization. AI-powered software is the key to tracking the relevant data for this endeavor.

For example, in the screening stage, AI can provide you with data points on how many of your applicants are men versus women. If there is a large disparity, you can then cast a wider net to target more women. Tracking this data over time will help you build a more gender-equitable screening process. 

Gender equality is good for business. HR teams need to make concerted efforts to create more equitable talent-acquisition processes so that they are able to hire the best talent, no matter the gender of the candidate. Armed with AI-powered tools, you can eliminate (or at the very least mitigate) gender bias in recruiting and hiring to create more equitable workplaces.  

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