The situation around data in personal data and its subset sensitive data are increasingly hot topics in many aspects of our life, and that is increasingly the case where diversity data gathering and reporting is concerned for the staffing industry.
As individuals and, in particular, internet users are becoming more and more aware of their meaning, value and use, the importance of legally compliant data processing activities is often under the spotlight. In our experience, this often causes uncertainty for many companies and leads to doubts on how to compliantly manage collection, processing and storage of their users’ and customers’ data, as well as of their employees’ and job applicants’ data.
How can we ensure data is compliantly collected, tracked, stored and reported?
In this blog, we run through ways to help you understand how to compliantly encourage self-reporting from candidates, as well as the dos and don’ts of DEI data.
First of all, it’s important to note that with regard to employment and hiring, in certain jurisdictions, anti-discriminatory regulations require employers, falling within specific categories, to collect diversity data for mandatory reporting (the US EEO regulations are an excellent example) and encourage voluntary collection of this type of data as a way to monitor their posture in relation to D&I, build documentation to prove a serious commitment to it, and measure the effectiveness of processes and procedures in place and the progress of new ones.
The law also differs depending on where you are based and / or hiring. Enquiring about particular categories of personal information such as age, ethnicity, citizenship, health status and disability, family status, gender and sexual orientation in the workplace, is widely considered not acceptable - when not illegal - as it can constitute basis for discrimination and consequently have an adverse impact on individuals.
The question that then arises is how to increase diversity self-reporting without turning away potential applicants, and in a culturally acceptable and legal way?
1. Building ‘Psychological Safety’
Everything related to job vacancies and the hiring process speaks volumes about a company’s work environment and culture. Candidate experience, talent attraction strategies and employee retention are all interconnected. Inclusive wording in a job description and application process design should aim at making sure that potential applicants won’t feel discriminated, alienated, marginalised or penalised in any way for honestly presenting themselves the way they are.
Adjectives and expressions like ‘young’, ‘green’, ‘fresh college graduate’,‘ dynamic’, ‘good-looking’, ‘rockstar’, ‘ninja’ and aggressive wording in general may discourage some potential applicants. A job ad text checker tool – like Diversely’s Bias Analyser - will help identify unconsciously biased language. Also, don’t forget to share your commitment to D&I including a statement where you openly welcome applications from a diverse pool of candidates.
To further reassure candidates that sharing sensitive information with a discriminatory potential won’t have repercussions, a visually distinct, clear separation between the actual job application form and the diversity data self-reporting form will help.
2. Clarity and Transparency
Each data collection point should be introduced by a clear and easily understandable statement of the purpose of said collection, and how the data will be processed and used in absolute compliance with the relevant privacy regulations.
Even better, you could show how your company values inclusiveness by sharing your D&I goals and current status, and how your processes aim at ensuring equality and fairness.
Within Diversely, this process is fully automated to ensure that the candidate has a chance to understand more about the company they’re applying to as well as give any information (data!) required that will help them do their job better, for example disclosing any disability or neurodiversity needs.
Positive initiatives like the ones aiming at increasing D&I have a great, tangible impact, and individuals are happy to contribute to their success and feel part of a good change. Every company that strives to improve their processes and makes their objectives unambiguous and transparent will more easily see an increase in participation.
Asking for help and showing sincere appreciation will naturally increase engagement.
Additionally, properly phrasing not only the questions but also the answers in your self-reporting form is more important than you may think: always offer as many relevant and inclusive options as possible in the answer list, and, for example, substitute the disheartening catch-all ‘other’ with a less marginalising ‘not listed’.
4. Voluntary Basis
When not requested by the law, it should be clearly stated that sharing this type of sensitive personal data that will be used to proactively improve internal D&I processes is entirely voluntary, and neither the information shared nor the refusal to share will result in any kind of disadvantage to the candidate.
For every question, the option to respond with ‘I’d prefer not to answer’ should always be included.
5. D&I as a Hallmark
Actual D&I is not just a facade and needs to have solid foundations. A strongly diverse and inclusive culture will radiate from any initiative a company undertakes and wherever their presence is. Nowadays, workforce composition, employee happiness and reputation constitute accessible information and contribute to a company’s global image just like annual revenue. A robust D&I posture will lead to a more positive perception and play an important part in building trust.
Want to understand more about DE&I data and it's potential business impact? Talk to us today to discover how having compliant data reporting at your fingertips is made easy with diversely.