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Mark van Assema: 'Why recruiters can only be truly bias-free with TTA'

With many social as well as technical developments the past 3 to 5 years, recruiters are more aware of their role in the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) debate than ever before. Besides gender, race, religion and age there is another bias that recruiters need to take into account. “Only with Total Talent Acquisition the bias against contract type can be eliminated”, says Mark van Assema, founder of HR Tech Review.

Mark van Assema on March 29, 2021 Average reading time: 3 min
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Mark van Assema: 'Why recruiters can only be truly bias-free with TTA'

Let’s start with the good news: diversity is winning from uniformity. Gone are the days where recruiters’ core mission was to find more like-minded look-a-likes of the existing workforce. Where testing was focused on getting equal results for rating ‘the best’ candidates. And where hiring managers were asking the same questions and expecting the same answers. There was bias all over the place, sometimes conscious, but usually people were just not aware of their behaviour even being biased. That has changed.

There was bias all over the place, sometimes conscious, but usually people were just not aware of their behaviour even being biased. That has changed.

A social and cultural change

Most organisations need and want to follow the changes happening in society. Many of these diversity topics in organisations are a result of social events around the world. Today organisations have diversity goals and policies, sometimes even regulated by local or central governments. For the number of women, LGBTI or even refugees in the workforce. For being able to carry out your religion and for gender, race or age pay gaps. And organisations use diversity to go public and change their culture. Uniformity thrives with keeping everything the same, where diversity equals being open to change, with different opinions, stimulating innovation.

The contract type bias

No need to dive into why the Future of Work in a VUCA world is also about flexibility. But where does this fit into this diversity discussion? Is an organisation getting more flexible if the gender numbers are more equally spread or if pay gaps are gone? Not really. Flexibility at work is relating to the period a person is doing a certain job or task.

Even though people may be doing the same work for the business, HR and recruiters have allowed a bias towards contract type to emerge.

As jobs appear and disappear more quickly and more work is becoming temporary, because of project-based work, organisations require more flexibility. And as the internal, or permanent, workforce hasn’t been very flexible the past decades the growth of the external workforce was inevitable. However that external workforce didn’t fit in the HR and recruitment models. Even though people may be doing the same work for the business, HR and recruiters have allowed a bias towards contract type to emerge.

Total, bias-free, Talent Acquisition

Many recruiters and HR are putting lots of efforts into their D&I policies, trying to hire a more diverse workforce. And they keep focussing on permanent employees only. So let’s say they meet their goals and the permanent workforce is a great, diverse group of people of any race, gender, age and religion. At the same time, however , an example could be the IT department which still shows only white males between the age of 25-45, because they are all external workforce and no D&I awareness was present for this group. Does that make sense at organisation and cultural level?

Let’s combine that and see contract type as any other bias to overcome. With a mission of not even mentioning contract type in the job description anymore.

Adding ‘Total’ to TA has a lot of advantages as it can refer to many topics. In our TA world it usually means adding contractor and other temporary candidates to recruitment. We could also interpret total as a ‘representation of the total society’, allowing for a bias-free recruitment process. So let’s combine that and see contract type as any other bias to overcome. With a mission of not even mentioning contract type in the job description anymore.

Want to learn more about bias-free TA?

On April 6th, our partners at Werf& are organising a special Seminar all about Diversity & Inclusion. Learn much more about how your talent acquisition can be transformed through integrating the right diversity and inclusion methodologies. Sign up here. Please note: the event is held in Dutch. 

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Mark van Assema

Mark van Assema

Author and Founder at HR Tech Review

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