Rethinking hiring can help to counteract the ‘She-cession’

By Dr Lindsey Zuloaga, Chief Data Scientist at HireVue

Virtual interview, Remote interview, Zoom callThe global pandemic has upended the world of work, amplifying day-to-day struggles and creating entirely new ones.

Whilst everyone has seen their lives impacted in one way or another, research has shown that women have been disproportionately affected, with women’s earnings declining by 12.9 per cent, nearly double the reduction for men.

Women were also found to be 1.8 times more likely than men to have lost their jobs and have dramatically increased their unpaid caring roles for children and older relatives. A study by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found during the first month of lockdown, in households with children aged under 18 years, women were carrying out on average two-thirds more of the childcare duties per day than men. Experts have dubbed the staggering rate at which women are leaving the workforce as the “she-cession.”

In order to help mitigate the impact of COVID inequality in the workplace, it is critical that re-hiring campaigns prioritise equity in hiring for marginalised applicants. Talent acquisition teams have three key, concrete areas where they can change hiring to ensure they find, recruit, and retain the women who have been so drastically affected by the pandemic and counteract the ‘she-cession’.

  1. Flexibility provides opportunity

It’s not always easy to work around a busy schedule and a noisy household when you land the interview of your dreams, and with the lines between work and life blurring more than ever, it is something many fall victim to. Prioritising flexibility when it comes to scheduling an interview helps to provide an equal opportunity to candidates, such as caregivers, who are forced to work around their personal circumstances. Data found that in 2020, 60% of nearly 5 million HireVue interviews were completed outside of “traditional” office hours and 40% of those were completed on Sundays. Tradition has been replaced by convenience in the hiring realm. A modernised experience, making use of on demand video interviews, can eliminate the schedule restraints imposed by face-to-face interviews, and it has the added benefit of protecting talent teams and candidates at a time when vaccine distribution is incomplete.

  1. A candidate is more than just a CV

Candidates have more to offer than what is summarised in a few characters on their CVs. In order to hire the most qualified and suitable candidates, employers need to evaluate people based on their abilities and skills, instead of judging candidates based on indicators such as university and previous employers; data points we know are often susceptible to unintentional bias. Recruiters must be mindful of roles certain candidates have, such as women being more likely to act as primary caregivers for children and parents and therefore suffer from gaps in their resumes and shouldn’t be penalised for this. Mobile-friendly, validated pre-hire assessments offer a better candidate experience while accurately measuring a candidate’s job-related competencies. Standardised pre-hire assessments level the playing field for all candidates, which reduces bias and improves fairness.

  1. Communication is key

With the UK facing high unemployment rates and millions of people searching for work, there is an influx of applicants for recruiters to individually handle, impacting the efficiency of their job. The anxiety around waiting to hear back from a job application let alone knowing if it’ll even be considered leaves people spiraling into the dreaded and unbearable ‘black hole’, so much so that 73% of people say the job search process is one of the most stressful things in life. Being transparent with your communication by providing your candidates with on-demand, automated chatbot feedback helps to alleviate pressure on both sides of the hiring process. Automated FAQs allow candidates to ask questions at their convenience, without requiring additional effort from overburdened recruitment teams. Text scheduling also provides a convenient, consumer-like experience for people who are on the go (e.g., school drop off, visiting family in assisted living facilities, doctor appointments, etc).

Talent acquisition teams are uniquely positioned to support women who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic by rethinking their hiring process. Small, intentional steps that re-examine our assumptions about traditional hiring tools like CVs and interviews can have significant and sustainable impacts on society.


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