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Can companies find the right balance in hiring in the age of DE&I?

Addressing DE&I in hiring and recruitment is one of the 21st century’s most important challenges—it requires a 21st-century solution.

Can companies find the right balance in hiring in the age of DE&I?
[NDABCREATIVITY/AdobeStock] [tirachard/AdobeStock] [Svitlana/AdobeStock]

In late 2021, we published the results of our latest Developer Recruitment Survey. The report aimed to understand how organizations are responding after two years of pandemic-influenced recruiting and hiring, as well as the different trends shaping both HR and engineering teams in these efforts.

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While the COVID-19 pandemic was the most significant factor impacting hiring over the last two years, another major influence was the increasing importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs in corporations across America and throughout the world. In response to high-profile protests, employee initiatives, and a long-overdue reckoning with bias in the tech industry, many organizations implemented new processes and guidelines in order to reach improved diversity metrics.

In light of this trend, it was surprising to find that a significant portion of survey respondents stated that they would drop their diversity standards if it meant hiring a more highly-skilled candidate or speeding up the recruitment process. According to the survey, 61% of engineering managers and 48% of HR respondents agreed that they would “rather hire a skilled non-diverse person than a moderately skilled person from a diverse background.”

The iron triangle is a classic adage in business suggesting that when working on a project, you can only pick two of the following three goals: fast, cheap, or good. HackerEarth’s recent survey data suggests there may be a new iron triangle emerging in tech hiring: a fast process, diverse candidates, or quality employees. Is it really true that you can only pick two?

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THE CHALLENGES FACING TODAY’S BUSINESSES

It’s no surprise that companies are feeling the pressure to move quickly in their hiring processes. The Great Resignation, which has seen millions of Americans leave their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, shows no sign of abating anytime soon. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.5 million people quit their jobs in November 2021, followed by another 4 million in December.

The unprecedented turnover in America’s workforce means that not only are companies scrambling to fill open positions, but they’re also competing with every other organization in the country to identify and attract the most qualified candidates. With employees able to pick and choose between dozens of potential workplaces, businesses are searching for every possible advantage in the hiring process. The ability to move quickly and make an offer before a potential competitor does could make the difference between winning or losing a preferred candidate.

The data from HackerEarth’s survey shows that if companies are forced to choose from this new iron triangle of hiring, they’re most likely to choose quality and speed, with DE&I once again getting short shrift. However, this doesn’t have to be the case.

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Today’s businesses are undoubtedly in a new environment for recruitment and hiring, which means they must look for new tools and strategies to meet their needs. Instead of falling back on existing practices—the ones that led to biases and inequity to begin with—hiring and engineering leaders need to use emerging technologies to both accelerate their hiring processes and remove bias from recruitment.

STRIKING THE IDEAL BALANCE WITH TECHNOLOGY

What are the roots of the tech industry’s struggles with DE&I? There has always been discrimination and overt biases. However, a large role has also been played by institutions as the gatekeepers helping large corporations to qualify which candidates are worthy of an opportunity and which are not. From top-tier universities to internships to reference letters, these resumé-building institutions have helped to enshrine many of the biases that shape today’s boardrooms and developer teams.

Instead of relying on the same resumes and qualifications that led the tech industry to its DE&I crisis, companies should instead move toward a technology-driven, skills-based assessment of potential candidates. While previously an Ivy League university degree may have spoken for a candidate’s skill levels, today’s AI-backed skills tests can more quickly and accurately determine whether a candidate has the tools they need for a given role.

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When built correctly (without the influence of a human manager), these assessments are able to deliver precise, sober assessments without the human emotions and biases that get tied up in a resumé review. Leaning on new technologies also makes it possible to widen your potential talent pool, as you can administer an online assessment to an unlimited number of candidates in an unlimited number of geographies.

Opening the door to those who live beyond your ZIP code or metro area can allow you to naturally introduce diverse candidates into your recruitment process and ensure that you’re on the right track to meeting new DE&I metrics.

Hiring managers and engineering leads don’t need to settle for the limitations of hiring’s new iron triangle. By using technology as connective tissue, these teams can introduce diverse candidates to their recruitment process and identify the most highly-skilled, qualified candidates for the position.

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And with the ability to conduct assessments at any time in any place, these companies can find the right candidate without having to make any sacrifices for speed. Addressing DE&I in hiring and recruitment is one of the 21st century’s most important challenges—it requires a 21st-century solution.


A developer at heart who believes in the skill-first approach to hiring, Sachin is the CEO and Founder of HackerEarth Technologies

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