When it comes to better hiring choices, referrals have proven to be a huge success. Many Silicon Valley firms have moved toward a full-on referral-based recruitment strategy. In the words of recruiting guru John Sullivan: “Job boards, job fairs, agencies or any other type or recruitment strategy than referrals… they don’t work.” He sees a simple methodology behind asking the smartest person in the office to look out for someone who’s smarter — or someone who thinks differently.
From ‘culture shift’ to ‘culture add’
That’s an aspect where Silicon Valley firms have seemingly thrived in: ensuring some type of diversity because they look for people who think differently. In Google’s 2020 version of its annual diversity report, the tech giant reports a shift in their recruiting focus: from “culture fit” to “culture add”. “We focus on how a candidate would add to Google’s culture, not simply how they might fit”, the company adds.
While referrals may be a very effective way of sourcing new personnel, when it doesn’t stem from an already (at least partly) diverse company, the referrals aren’t bound to be diverse either.
But not every company is Google — which holds true for most companies except, well, Google. Not every company has had a solid foundation of diversity integrated into their recruiting strategy for more than a few years now. While referrals may be a very effective way of sourcing new personnel, when it doesn’t stem from an already (at least partly) diverse company, the referrals aren’t bound to be diverse either. Part of the problem: many TA leaders don’t know where to start.
5 golden rules
And that’s where referral-company Real Links comes in. Founded by Sam Davies and Dan Krijgsman in 2017, they have been one of the more interesting disruptions in the recruitment industry in the past few years. When it comes to referrals, they see an opportunity, rather than a disadvantage for diversity and inclusion. In all, they see five pillars, five rules, with which referrals can actually turn out to be inclusive.
#1: Encourage social introductions in wide networks
It boils down to a simple fact, Real Links say: everyone’s broader personal, social and professional networks are far more diverse than friends and family. “This is why championing ‘social introductions’ is better for D&I than referrals”, they say. “Allowing employees to choose whether they’re recommending or simply providing a social introduction to someone in their network removes the stigma of referring, and increases the likelihood of a more diverse candidate pool.”
“Allowing employees to choose whether they’re recommending or simply providing a social introduction to someone in their network removes the stigma of referring, and increases the likelihood of a more diverse candidate pool.”
#2. Auto-matching based on skills, not relationships
An element wherein Real Links’ platform stands out: it auto matches employee social connections with open roles within an organisation. But, and here’s the key, they are solely made on the basis of skills, not relationships. “The employee is notified when a match is made”, they state. “This has a big impact because employees are seeing suggestions from the platform for candidates they’d probably never have thought of otherwise.”
#3. Anonymise personal identifiers for recruiters
Another issue tackled by Real Links is the unconscious bias of recruiters. When an employee is matched with an open role, recruiters in the platform have the option to prompt the employee to encourage an introduction. But this is done without any type of candidate data. “The platform anonymises the candidate data for the recruiter, removing any risk of unconscious bias, thus further supporting D&I objectives.”
#4. Working with employee resource groups and content sharing
An employer brand that shows off a diverse and inclusive workforce, a diverse culture, may be one of the best options in terms of attracting diverse talent. But what you need for this to occur is simple: content. Offering gamification and micro rewards to employee resource groups may be a great way to encourage content creation and participation, Real Links says. “Creating content that promotes the diverse culture of your workforce and rewarding employees for sharing it helps build advocacy and positions your employer brand to a more diverse potential talent pool.”
“Creating content that promotes the diverse culture of your workforce and rewarding employees for sharing it helps build advocacy and positions your employer brand to a more diverse potential talent pool.”
#5. Detailed D&I analytics
Finally, a call for data. As with many business aspects, not having the right data insights may prove to be ill-fated for its process. Critical thinking is a necessity, particular when it comes to subjects like diversity and inclusion. Beyond general referral analytics, Real Links have built in D&I analytics. “This not only supports workplace D&I by providing a detailed snapshot of your position, but saves a lot of time for HR and TA teams who want to report and feedback to management on the D&I position.”