Achieving a truly diverse workforce in the office and even beyond has always been a challenge for companies worldwide. Remote recruitment may help with this by reducing implicit biases when onboarding new employees.
The global pandemic has forced many businesses to adopt remote recruitment instead of the normal sit-in interview. While this has its challenges, it may also be a blessing a disguise especially for job-seekers who may have been locked out of employment due to bias.
Removes Face to Face Bias
First, the nature of remote recruitment is online. For all the pros of using online meeting apps like Zoom, Google Meet, Jitsi and many others they cannot fully substitute face to face interviews. Now this may seem like a bad thing and for many reasons it is. It does however have a silver lining. Conversing with people online is less personal and that also means fewer personal biases. Factors such as race and gender thus become less of a factor when doing interviews.
This does not however mean that these factors will be completely eliminated. Remote recruitment has however been shown to do better in restricting them. Recruiting a developer for instance involves less communication and is more about actual coding. Interviewers will thus focus more on the actual software and less on the developer herself. During the interview the developer may for instance share her screen when coding instead of showing her face. This leaves less time for the employer to form prejudices about the prospective employee whether good or bad. It instead places more focus on her work.
A Global Reach
Remote recruitment also has a far more global reach than in-office interviews. This is perhaps one of the greatest advantages of hiring online and herein also lies the greatest tool in overcoming recruitment bias.
The global nature of remote recruitment platforms like Upwork increases the scope of the interviewer to locations which he/she would not have previously considered. The structure of such platforms is such that employers are constantly looking for quality workers with the lowest rates. Such people tend to be in developing nations.
India is perhaps the biggest beneficiary of this phenomenon. While the figures are not agreed upon, up to 40% of the India workforce is freelance. Pakistan and countries in Sub-Saharan countries with good eb internet connections like Kenya have also benefited massively from online work.
It is now common for companies to have their headquarters in developed countries like the US and Europe but have majority of their operations run by workers in developing nations like India. Indian call centers are a result of this structure. The number of Indians employed in this industry is approximated to almost a million. In fact, so common is this phenomenon that the culture shock experienced by Western people upon hearing the ‘strange’ accents of the person on the other side of the line has become a common joke.
While such employees occupy the lowest ranks of such corporations it still affords them wages that are higher than equal ranking jobs in their locations. In fact, the very fact of employment is a joy to many of them as their countries do not offer such opportunities at all.
Online recruitment has also helped to get more women into the workplace. Mothers especially have benefited from a structure that enables them to work online while simultaneously taking care of their children.
Remote recruitment however still has some way to go to be truly inclusive. For instance, online platforms like Upwork have more male workers than female. This is mainly because of unequal access to these platforms. To achieve a fairer and more just world companies in their bid to be more inclusive must improve their efforts in removing biases from the workplace.