Diversity is regarded as “the biggest game-changer” for hiring processes in 2018, a new report conducted by LinkedIn Talent Solutions has revealed.
LinkedIn surveyed close to 9,000 talent acquisition professionals from 39 different countries, asking them about the current state of hiring and the key recruitment trends to watch out for in the coming year.
There were four main rubrics that emerged as the most pressing issues in the minds of hiring specialists worldwide: diversity, data, artificial intelligence (AI) and new interviewing tools.
Diversity was cited as a top priority, with 78pc of those surveyed indicating that it was a ‘very/extremely important’ trend. More than half (53pc) of the companies interviewed said that they have made inroads to tackle it head-on, and have mostly or completed adopted policies to address the issue.
While the topic of diversity has attracted much attention of late, it wasn’t so long ago that there was a genuine dearth of reliable data on the demographic breakdown of some of the largest and most influential companies worldwide.
Talent on tap
“Pretty much universally, this topic seems to be critical for most organisations,” said Brendan Browne, the vice-president of global talent acquisition at LinkedIn, on the topic of diversity. Browne analysed the result on the latest episode of his talk show Talent on Tap.
The survey also established the perceived benefits to promoting diversity in workplaces. Of those interviewed, 78pc stated that they wanted to focus on diversity to improve company culture, while 48pc said they wanted to do it so that their workforce would better represent their customer base.
More than 60pc of professionals cited the desire to improve company performance as a motivating factor for recruiting a more diverse workforce.
Diversity has been proven time and time again to be beneficial not only ethically, but also to a company’s bottom line. This was most recently reiterated in a McKinsey & Company analysis of how representation positively affected profits in almost 1,000 companies across 12 countries, a follow-up of the firm’s 2015 Why Diversity Matters study.
The analysis concluded that companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity at an executive level are 33pc more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile.
Where companies are focusing their efforts
LinkedIn also quizzed respondents about where companies are focusing their diversity efforts. Gender came in at first place, which the research paper partially attributes to the fact that gender is “easy to track” and therefore is often “low-hanging fruit” for companies.
It also pointed out that the “undisputed proof of women’s value in the workplace and grim representation of females at big-name companies” also go a long way to keeping gender at the forefront of the company consciousness.
Organisations are also focusing on racial and ethnic diversity, which came second in the overall table, translating into almost half (49pc).
Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center published its latest findings on experiences of discrimination and lack of representation in the US workforce, placing particular emphasis on gender and racial inequities, and how lack of representation impacts the experiences of women and minorities.
It was observed that in male-dominated work environments, women were more likely to report experiencing discrimination in various forms. The study also indicated that racial representation in STEM industries is currently lagging behind national averages.
Browne was quick to mention how important it is that hiring managers “really understand their own unconscious biases that they bring to the assessment process” when attempting to recruit a more diverse range of candidates. He referred to steps taken by Airbnb to eliminate bias from the interview process as an example of self-aware and proactive action in a bid to achieve better representation in the workplace.
Recruitment professionals seem keen to overhaul the interview process as a whole. While many still practise and attest to the effectiveness of the traditional interview format, 63pc of respondents stated that classic hiring methods such as this are not effective at screening for soft skills – skills that are experiencing a particular flush in demand in the wake of advancements in AI technology.
New methods for sizing up candidates such as soft skills assessments, ‘job auditions’ and electing to meet in more casual settings have all emerged as viable alternatives to the traditional interview format.
AI for smarter recruitment
Most professionals (76pc) acknowledge that AI will be at least somewhat significant to how recruiters work in the coming years. AI has the potential to reduce costs and labour by automating repetitive tasks and streamlining the search process, narrowing down candidates in ways the recruiters themselves may not have considered.
AI isn’t going to replace talent acquisition specialists any time soon, but will likely merely complement their work. AI was rated as most helpful at sourcing, screening, scheduling and even nurturing candidates.
Yet ultimately, the more ‘human’ aspects of human resources, such as forging relationships and gauging interpersonal skills, will not be overtaken by AI any time soon.
Finally, data – which has almost become cliché now, due to how frequently it is cited when contemplating the future of work – was highlighted as vital to the recruitment process going forward. It has the potential, according to respondents, to help gauge skill gaps and increase retention.
Making more data-driven decisions could very well elevate the recruiter role as a whole, and could be helpful to all HR professionals regardless of experience.
By Eva Short