I was recently invited to comment on an article about social mobility initiatives within recruitment. Specifically, the selection criteria large accountancy firms use to manage their recruitment (you can read the original article here). Deloitte have announced that they want to use algorithms to reduce unconscious class bias in their selection processes. Whilst any action to address social immobility is great, I can’t help thinking that refining the recruitment process won’t resolve the issue.
I’ve never really thought filtering strategies to assist overworked recruiters are constructive in the “bigger picture”. If you concentrate on social mobility at the point of “bottleneck” (entry-level recruitment), then you’re missing the chance to resolve the causes of that issue “upstream” (in other words to improve work-readiness during education). Algorithms might help one company to satisfy themselves that they made a difference, but the bigger issue will remain.
The real flaw is that so few entry-level candidates are “work-ready”, regardless of class or educational background. If we don’t tackle this issue “upstream” then by the time individuals come to apply for jobs, the pressures of non-selection result in significant financial and emotional costs.
Faced with thousands of applications, recruiters will always need to find a way to reduce their workload, such as filtering by institution or grade. These filters are arbitrary and, in my humble opinion, ineffectual. This system of “selection-by-academic-attainment” is so entrenched that nobody ever considers any alternative.
One really interesting point in the article is that large employers are starting to realise that academic performance isn’t necessarily an indicator of workplace ability. If recruiters “hide” data about university name and academic grade, then hopefully they’ll find more “diamonds in the rough” (my quotes)
I like this kind of thinking. But why stop there? Why do companies choose to interview applicants according to academic grades and subject? Why not filter applicants according to aptitude, business awareness and positive attitude? This could really make a difference to social mobility across society.
If there any recruiters out there who don’t think that such as service exists, please read more about bizenko (and contact us for a chat). In part, bizenko exists to provide a selection filter other than academic attainment, and our social enterprise company allows interested parties to sponsor our services for those individuals who cannot afford business awareness training (if social mobility is your passion in life, please visit our crowdfunding page to donate).
PS – In terms of Algorithms………. I’m no expert of Algorithms, but my fear is that, should this concept be adopted universally by employers, then individuals will start to spend even more time and effort trying to “ace” the algorithm filter and selection process, rather than getting themselves fit for employment. #missingthepoint