How to Increase Diversity in Your Recruitment Process by Gary Buswell on Oct 5, 2017

Even well-established global companies such as Google have been found to have low levels of diversity, while smaller firms that don’t monitor or regulate these things will often be staffed with people from very similar backgrounds.

Increasing diversity in the workplace is not just a concern about improving equal opportunities. Diversity recruiting makes practical sense too. It improves the range of knowledge within the business, broadens the collective experience and increases the likelihood of new perspectives and untried ideas. In a competitive marketplace, recruiting a diverse workforce can give you greater sustainability and an edge over rival businesses.

The most useful diversity recruiting practices

#1 Build diverse relationships

One of the reasons that workforces are less diverse than they could be is that recruiters often exercise unconscious bias during the recruitment process. We tend to have an innate leaning towards those similar to us in terms of culture and background. We often make assumptions without realizing it – men will be better than women at tech jobs or those involving physical labor, young people will learn new skills quicker than old people, etc. – and they can easily manifest in the recruitment selection process. 

There is also evidence that those with white sounding names are nearly 75% more likely to hear back on applications than those with an ethnic minority sounding name. As the job selection process often begins with a review of CV’s or resumes before moving onto the first round of interviews, this subtle bias plays a part right from the start.

Fortunately, there are a couple of good ways to tackle this. One thing to do is to develop your diversity networking in order to improve your diversity sourcing. One reason that diversity recruiting levels remain low is that not enough minority or female candidates apply for the roles in the first place. If you want to have more diverse candidates, you need to reach out and build relationships with individuals and groups that are under-represented and encourage them to apply for positions. 

Organisations are starting to use this approach as a way to tackle homogeneity in the workplace. For example, as part of a Recruiting for Diversity initiative, Harvard University implemented ‘Proactive diversity recruiting’ which involved improved networking and advertising among a wider range of external groups in order to improve the diversity of candidates.

#2 Start with performance-based hiring

The second thing you can do is to change your recruitment process and do a skills screening as the first step. Currently, most companies will do this during the latter part of the recruitment process. But evidence suggests that beginning with a short skills test not only improves diversity recruiting, it also reduces both time and costs.

This performance-based hiring approach levels the playing field as it works as a ‘blind hiring’ method that gives everyone an equal chance. Recruiters can then eliminate the least suitable applicants at the start of the process without any selection bias creeping in. We at Hundred5 have developed an example test that takes around 10 minutes to complete and offers immediate feedback. It’s something that recruiters can tailor to suit specific positions in order to improve their diversity recruiting strategy as well as streamline their recruitment process.

Hundred5 skill tests are also a great way to advertise job roles. People can often be put off by writing cover letters or customizing their CV’s, but a 10-minute challenge adds a bit of fun. If you score well and get good feedback, you are more likely to spend time applying for the position.

These sorts of tests have performed well for improving diversity recruiting where they have been used. 

GapJumpers carried out a multi-company trial with a skills-based test where the company drew up interview shortlists based purely on scores. Using this ‘blind’ process, 60% of the applicants who were not white, male, able-bodied and from elite schools progressed to the interview stage, compared to only 20% using traditional CV screening. 

One of the most high-profile cases has been consumer-goods company Unilever. Since switching to artificial intelligence-based skills testing a year ago, applications to jobs in their North American branches more than doubled and there was a ‘significant’ increase in hiring minorities. Moreover, the average candidate hiring time reduced from four months to four weeks and employers spent 75% less time reviewing resumes.


The benefits of using pre-employment assessment tools to improve both diversity recruiting and efficiency are clear to see. With the Hundred5 skills test, you can build your own unique test, share on various social channels to attract applicants and then analyze the results (See how). It’s designed to make the process as simple as possible, for both recruiters and applicants. 

If you can also focus on improving your diversity networking at the same time, you should be able to maximize your reach and have a pool of candidates from a variety of backgrounds – ethnicity, gender, age, disability – who will be judged first and foremost on their skills for the job.

So if you are an employer who is keen to maximize the skill levels of your workforce, are interested in increasing diversity in your recruitment, and you don’t fancy the prospect of endlessly thumbing through piles of CVs, the skills test approach is something you should definitely consider. 

Other good reads on the subject

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