Fast 4: Recruiting for Diversity with Adam Shapley, Hays

We tend to move towards people who are more like us, so diversity doesn’t necessarily happen by itself. We all know the evidence: diverse teams perform better. If we understand this, it is fundamental to business performance that we follow through on prioritising recruiting for diversity.

Adam Shapley is Managing Director of Hays in New Zealand. Adam sat down with Global Women to talk about how companies can stay one step ahead by recruiting for diverse talent.


Global Women: Tell us a little about what Hays NZ is doing to ensure diversity in shortlists for their clients.

Adam Shapley: We present to our clients a diverse shortlist of suitable candidates for them to interview and select from. When you assess talent based on suitability for the job alone, the shortlist is often naturally diverse. However if it isn’t, we look at how we can encourage people from the under-represented demographic group to apply.

However, despite presenting a diverse shortlist, we’ve seen countless cases of hiring managers who only select people from a particular demographic group to interview.

Such bias is very subtle, which is why we also seek to educate our clients about unconscious bias and the benefits of a diverse workforce. To this end, we produce a range of thought-leadership on this critical issue and present our findings to clients in meetings and in events.

For example, every year we research and publish our annual Hays Diversity & Inclusion Report to share current thinking and recommendations. In our 2018-19 Report we present 25 practical recommendations for how policies, practices and behaviours in organisations can be enhanced to improve talent management strategies by applying a D&I lens to drive overall business success.

In another research report, we partnered with Insync Surveys to ask over 1,000 hiring managers to review a CV for a hypothetical job. 515 reviewed the CV of ‘Susan’ and 514 reviewed an identical CV but for one notable change – the name was altered to ‘Simon’. Despite being the exact same CV except for the name, more people said they would interview ‘Simon’ over ‘Susan’.

We use our findings to talk knowledgeably and credibly with our clients about D&I.


GW: What kinds of discrimination, either overt or covert, are women facing in the recruitment process in 2019?

AS: As mentioned, discrimination is usually unconscious, and often presents in a preference from a hiring manager to more highly rate a candidate who is most like them. Such bias impacts perceptions. For example, in our Susan/Simon research mentioned, people were significantly more likely to interview and hire Simon rather than Susan, which shows that the ‘think leader, think male’ bias does impact recruitment decisions. When the majority of executive positions are currently held by men, this is an obvious barrier in women’s ability to achieve such positions in equal numbers to men.

Alarmingly, our research this year also found that 13 per cent of women have been asked in a job interview about their plans to have children or their caring responsibilities. In any job interview, the focus should be on the competencies required for the role. People should not ask, or make assumptions, about a person’s commitments outside of work based on their age, gender or any other factor.


GW: Your recent Diversity Report (2018-19) highlights the impact of the #MeToo movement. To what extent does workplace bullying and harassment affect women, and what can be done to solve this problem?

AS: It has a huge impact. Our findings show that 50 per cent of women, 64 per cent of people living with a disclosed disability, 58 per cent of people who identify as LGBTIQ+ and 50 per cent of mature-age people say they’ve experienced bullying or harassment at work due to their gender, age, sexual orientation or disability.

As for what can be done, measures range from the formal letter of the law, sanctions and workplace guides to day-to-day awareness of leaders and managers and the behaviours of all employees. Employers could start by becoming aware of anti-bullying laws and follow correct procedures – if they aren’t already.

Employment New Zealand provides information on employer and employee must do’s to resolve problems while the Citizens Advice Bureau offers information for employers and employees on what to do if bullying or harassment has occurred.


GW: If you could advise all companies to make one change to ensure gender-fairness in recruitment, what would it be?

AS: Training in unconscious bias and diversity is an obvious first step in changing mindsets. Even people who think their hiring decisions are impartial often find that testing reveals some unconscious biases that they need to be aware of when recruiting.