In the anxiousness to prove a company is not biased and able to meet diversity goals, people are getting hired who are necessarily ideal for the position. The end result is that good intentions become more sources of criticism. For example, hiring a woman or person of color who is not necessarily qualified for the position causes a lot of problems. First, the person hired is faced with trying to manage a job without the right experience, skills, or knowledge, and that leads to frustration, disengagement, and eventual turnover. Second, biases are affirmed when diverse people are unable to handle the job or quickly leave the organization.
The thinking goes along these lines: See! Women and people of color or multicultural people are not as competent as white people. That is how the thinking goes when bias is reinforced through corporate decision-making during recruitment and hiring processes. No one ever said that people who are not qualified for a job should be hired based on their color or gender. Meeting corporate goals is a good pursuit, but setting people up for failure is not.
One of the important strategies for promoting diverse hiring and retention practices is ensuring the metrics are in place to ensure quality and unbiased hiring. Setting out to hire women and minorities just because they are women and minorities actually perpetuates bias which makes the struggle for equality and inclusion even more difficult. Biases like reaffirmation of biases.
One of the critical strategies to successfully diversifying the workforce is hiring qualified diverse people. To ensure the corporate strategy meets more than good intentions requires relying on data and metrics. Without the analysis that well-developed metrics provide, it is difficult to assess progress in relationship to goals. After the global turmoil in which people protested inequality and the biases experienced in the workplace, walking the walk is mandatory. Setting goals is good, but too many organizations use those goals to excuse lack of progress. “We tried but failed, but we have goals.”
Hiring goals are quite different from retention goals, so both need addressing. The metrics need to ensure quality of hiring even while pursuing hiring goals. For example, metrics may indicate success in attracting diverse job candidates, but are they qualified, and do they stay once hire? The issue with diversity hiring goal setting and tying it to organizational performance accountability is that managers may hire people who are not qualified just to meet goals. This is an ongoing issue that is only addressed through the revision of metrics.
The metrics of value measure experience and capabilities of job applicants, but they also should ensure measure equally. Metrics should not just indicate the business filled an equal opportunity quota. They need to incorporate demographic and qualifications data, but the demographic data should be hidden from decision-makers. Instead, an ID number is assigned to the applicant. This enables recruiters and hiring managers to concentrate on applicant qualifications and avoids the unconscious bias that creeps into talent decisions. The ID number allows tracking for diversity accounting purposes.
Diversity and inclusion is not just a goal to be reached. It should be an important element of the organization’s culture. It takes time but filling positions with people who are not fully qualified but diverse only perpetuates bias. It supports the idea that women and people of color or different cultural backgrounds are not competent or are hired simply because of demographic characteristics. It is a recipe for high turnover of diverse people and leaves an organization wondering why it has so much difficulty eradicating unconscious bias.
The recruiter must actively search for qualified candidates, and the hiring manager must make a decision based on applicant skills and qualifications and ability to bring new perspectives and ideas. The metrics need to focus on the right characteristics and not just the demographics of job candidates. Once people are on board for their abilities, the diversity metrics must fairly demonstrate inclusion in the culture and talent process, like training and leadership development opportunities. If they do not, then changes to the process are needed.
Unconscious bias can adversely impact people in many ways. The metrics need to do more than just meet a diversity hiring goal because it does matter who is hired. It is possible to track diversity demographics and skills at the same time.