Over the last five years, momentum has been building behind a broader business culture of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), driven in part by new technologies. Social media has expanded our ability to share our stories, both personal and professional. Video conferencing from a home office/virtual school has become the norm. And posting a position to a recruiting platform is essential in any talent search. However, not all technology is considered equal by underrepresented groups, and there’s still work to be done to increase the visibility of diverse talent.
When it comes to technology and the algorithms behind the apps, what you put in is what you get out. A recent article in The Guardian demonstrated this principal most clearly in its reporting on a program that asks AI to fill-in-the-blank, with pictures. Given an image of a male-presenting face, the software often filled in his body with a suit. For a female-presenting face, it recommended beach attire most of the time. This was based on the general internet database of billions of photographs and what was the most common clothing representation for each.
Clearly there is still a gap between our stated cultural values and our database of norms. The number of job seekers that see diversity as an important factor when considering companies and job offers increased by about 20% over the last five years, to 86%. But that reality isn’t yet reflected in the data either.
According to Statistics Canada, while women now account for roughly 40% of the private sector workforce, their availability is closer to 50%. This disparity is greater, still, for people who identify as a visibility minority, Indigenous, LGBTQ or as having a disability, and at the intersections of these experiences. As well, the greatest workplace impacts of COVID-19 have been on women, particularly visible minorities and new immigrants.
An estimated one in five Canadians have a disability, and while we have made progress in areas of accessibility, we still have quite a way to go. About 30% of available working-age adults with disabilities are employed compared to 80% of those without disabilities. Where we’ve collectively made the most progress so far, the representation of visible minorities has been increasing steadily since 1987. However, this varies across different ethnic and racial groups.
“As a newcomer, I faced the pressure of becoming part of the Canadian labor force as soon as possible. I came with education, background, international experience, and dreams to fulfil; however, I did not have connections or local experience, and I had to take a survival job because I needed to pay rent and buy food. I do not know how to fix the problem, but I do know that the system has the capacity to improve the process. There should be a better way that benefits both the country as well as immigrants.” — Viviana Zea, Project Manager, Diverse & Inclusive Hiring Initiatives, Magnet
Employers already recognize the importance of a diverse workforce and a wealth of research has demonstrated the benefits of hiring job seekers from typically underrepresented groups. When it comes to hiring, technology needs to enable employers to connect with diverse, skilled talent to realize these values in the workforce.
Our mission at Magnet is to accelerate inclusive economic growth and our goal is to help make recruiting easier, more effective and equitable. As a digital job matching platform, Magnet has developed tools that employers can use to not only recruit based on skills and experience, but also widen their pool of candidates.
In addition, we’ve made it simple for diversity-seeking companies and inclusion-seeking candidates to find each other by including this in your job posting. Job seekers can privately self-identify as a member of an employment equity group and can then receive job opportunities from employers looking to increase diversity in their organization.
When employers share a job posting on Magnet, they can indicate that they would like to share that opportunity with job seekers on the platform who fit the required skill profile and also identify as a member of the following groups: women, Indigenous persons, newcomers, visible minorities, LGBTQ persons, and persons with a disability.
“As a former job-seeker with a disability, I found myself getting passed up for opportunity after opportunity because I lacked the requisite skills and experience to be considered for roles. How do I gain experience when I cannot get a foot in the door? If I did make it to an interview, I had to negotiate a minefield when it came to when and how to disclose, not knowing if an employer was inclusive. Processes that encourage job-seekers to self-ID in a safe, secure way, knowing that they are being connected to inclusive employers, will make the transition to work smoother.” — Elizabeth Mohler, Project Coordinator, Inclusive Hiring, Magnet
We do our best at Magnet to make it easy and efficient to find the right candidate, helping you eliminate bias from the start and protecting the privacy of job seekers. We do this by allowing job seekers to control their profile information. A candidate’s profile is hidden and only used for matching purposes. By “blinding” resumes, your team can assess candidates based solely on skills, experience, and passion.
As a hiring company, you can also “de-bias” a job posting by identifying exclusionary language and finding alternatives that appeal to a wider range of candidates. Updating your marketing materials and company website to demonstrate your diversity is another important step.
Finally, to help increase equitable hiring now and for the next generation, we are one of the Government of Canada’s partners facilitating the Student Work Placement Program (SWPP). Expanding access to work-integrated learning for post-secondary students in small to medium-sized businesses, eligible employers can receive a wage subsidy of up to 75% (max $7,500) per placement. These include students from underrepresented populations and students who have traditionally faced barriers to engaging in experiences like co-ops, internships and applied research projects.
In all areas of our economy, diversity tends to attract diversity — and along with it, different strengths and perspectives. Take the next step towards a more equitable future by hiring with Magnet today.