a woman empowered in a meeting room

Will AI empower women & how?

We are all striving to become more inclusive because regardless of a person’s gender, ethnicity or background everyone has talent and potential. With more women working than ever before, gender equality is at the forefront of most HR professional’s minds. However, there is a lack of females in leadership positions, for instance, only 25 females are CEOs at Fortune 500 companies.

This imbalance can be observed across the workforce, with men and women respectfully dominating certain industries. For example, currently 80% of US software developers are men and 85% of social workers are women. But why is this the case? The effect of life domains on girls’ possible selves study suggests that culture, socialisation and gender role stereotyping discourages females from traditionally masculine subjects such as physics and mathematics. This may influence career choices later on, which further reinforces job role stereotypes. Therefore, these stereotypes based on gender can impact society heavily but the ever-growing change for equality will help open industries to all.

Will this ever change? 

We are on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution, and as a result, new technology such as AI and automation will transform industries and workforces. Employees will dedicate less time to routine tasks like data handling, focusing more on adding value to the company. More jobs will require a personal touch using interpersonal skills, creativity and problem-solving abilities which will favour humans over AI and other technologies. According to a study by PWC, women could initially be impacted by the development and implementation of AI and automation. However, in the long term, it is suggested that more males could be affected. This should inspire women to retrain or change career in order to stay ahead of the curve which may mean applying for roles they haven’t considered before.

Currently, there is a lack of females in STEM related fields.  Our Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Boris Altemeyer, comments that: “You can only hire in a balanced way for diversity if the talent is there and they have been educated in that field.” As this industry grows, there will be even more roles available in STEM industries. Initiatives have been created to encourage women to take STEM subjects. If this is successful, more females will be hired in typical male dominated roles. This will also mean a more diverse applicant pool. But how can HR managers ensure they are hiring the best candidates for a role, regardless of whether a position is traditionally held by a male or female?  

How can HR support this change? 

More and more businesses are introducing AI into their recruitment process. There are many benefits to adopting this technology, it saves you time, money and people power whilst allowing you to find candidates who fit into your company’s culture and team as well as the role you’re recruiting for. AI technologies can enable you to create a fairer and more diverse recruitment process. As humans are naturally prone to bias, it can sometimes influence decisions the workplace. It is common within the recruitment process as you are judging candidates on a range of skills and attributes to match the job role. However, factors such as gender and culture should not affect applying for a job (read our blog to find out more). AI removes the bias created by humans as it has the capacity to be completely objective.

“If AI doesn’t empower women, then we are doing it wrong”

Dr Boris Altemeyer

It is possible to create a recruitment process that is fair for all. But how do you define ‘fair’? Even if you programme AI software to identify the best candidates with a 50:50 gender split, it may still not be entirely fair. For instance, an applicant pool could have a larger amount of stronger female candidates. Therefore, not only would these qualified applicants miss out on this job opportunity, but the organisation wouldn’t necessarily be hiring the best candidates for the role. Dr Boris Altemeyer also reveals that “The AI needs to learn what is fair and balanced. We need to agree what we tell the AI to do in order to get the best possible outcome.” 

At Cognisess, we remove biases by making it optional for candidates to disclose age, gender, race or even the schools they attended. More significantly, this personal information is never considered in Cognisess’ set of assessments. Our system is mostly interested in assessing how your brain works. From this, recruiters can focus purely on what matters when hiring an applicant. This is called blind recruitment and it provides decision makers with an in-depth understanding of a candidate’s suitability for the role regardless of background, age, gender or ethnicity. This creates an environment for recruiters to make objective and well-informed decisions about a candidate’s potential.

Creating equal opportunities for all with AI

At Cognisess, we are constantly pursuing a fair recruitment process for all. We recently investigated if gender bias was present in one of our client’s hiring processes. Although more male applicants applied for their graduate scheme, more female candidates were successful. When candidates were asked to complete a variety of cognitive, emotional, personality Cognisess assessments, there was no bias present. The number of passed and rejected candidates reflected the difference in applicant volume of each gender. The final stage of the graduate process was a video interview. The gender was revealed in this section of the process due to the video aspect. However, in this part of the process female applicants were more likely to pass this stage than males. This could be an indication of higher presentation skills in female candidates, but it could also reflect a subtle bias in the human assessors marking the video interviews. 

This shows the effect humans could have on a recruitment process. It is important to note that bias can happen towards any group of people, including males. This is why it is important HR teams constantly refines this in order to truly hire the best applicants.  

Initially, women will be the most affected by the fourth industrial revolution. But this could be an opportunity for them to step outside stereotypical female roles and realise their potential. With a more diverse applicant pool organisations will need to ensure they have a recruitment process in place that is fair for all. If you would like to discuss how AI and People Analytics can enhance your recruitment process, book a free demo with our expert team. 

retail workers working

Volume Recruitment in Retail: Harvest the volume, find the quality

From Christmas shopping to the rush to buy summer holiday essentials, retail is a high tempo sector regardless of the season. Hiring experienced and qualified staff is important to maintain high standards of service, but this can be challenging when there is a high turnover of staff and a high volume of applications in the talent pipeline. According to Labour Market Review, 60% of employers report that applicants lack important customer handling skills and only 11% of employers think their employees have all the necessary skills to work in their store. That increases the pressure to find the right talent as unsuitable workers who may find themselves as the face of a brand could damage a customer’s perception of the company and affect sales. But how can hiring managers guarantee they have made the right decision when involved in high volume of applicants and acute time pressures to fill vacancies quickly? The answer lies in harnessing the power of Predictive People Analytics from platforms like Cognisess.

Time is precious, recruitment is expensive

Sorting through a high volume of applications is a time consuming and costly process. On average, it takes 42 days to fill a position. In addition, Oxford Economics reveals that the average fee for replacing a departing staff member is £30,614. Costs typically includes £5,433 for logistics, such as agency fees and advertising, and wages during the time when a new employee is yet to reach optimum productivity level, believed to be an average of 28 weeks at a cost of £25,182. Therefore, reducing churn should reduce overall recruitment costs massively and in turn, these costs can be re-distributed across the business to improve business performance.

That’s why one of our clients, a popular UK furniture retailer, started to use Cognisess Pro. Since deploying Cognisess Pro, they have processed nearly 10,000 applications for multiple roles nationwide. Sorting through such a high volume of candidates had previously proved to be too time intensive for their store managers, who really wanted to focus more of their time on the customer experience, sales and optimising the performance of their current employees. By harnessing the recruitment and assessment features of Cognisess Pro, hiring managers were able to transform the application and hiring process by reducing the manual time and resources needed and in doing so generated a more accurate outcome.

Widen the talent pool – don’t narrow it.

When typically faced with the pressure of hiring in retail, managers tend to take short cuts and aim for applicants who appear (on the surface) to meet the basic job fit criteria and resemble candidates they have seen before. As such, many potentially suitable candidates can be ignored or overlooked and others who may not be suitable at all and are liable to churn are often hired. But of course with such time pressure to hire with limited time and resources, it is natural to narrow the field of opportunity rather than expand it.

Cognisess Pro is designed to take the strain of volume recruitment by accurately and scientifically filtering out at an early stage candidates who are simply not suitable based on the basic requirements of the job role. This automated process immediately relieves pressure on traditional manual sifting putting time and control back in the hands of hiring managers. In the case of our furniture retailing client, we provided a process to successfully handle the high volume of applicants by focusing on their abilities and attributes for the role within a ‘blind’ recruitment process which means the system had no visibility of race, gender or age. These characteristics may well have been unconsciously or consciously taken into account by humans previously and can be reliably avoided by using Cognisess Pro. Read more about removing bias in recruitment in our previous blog post

By using a series of Cognisess’ scientifically backed assessments to profile what good looks like amongst our client’s most successful employees, we were able to provide a benchmark and job profile. With the results, the software can automatically compare and rank every applicant’s scores against a series of cognitive, emotional and personality attributes which indicates how well-matched an applicant is to the specific job role. Not only did this give every applicant a fair chance, it also meant that the widest possible volume of applicants could be considered. Without Cognisess Pro, this opportunity would be too prohibitive in cost and resource terms.

How do you hire and keep the best candidates? 

Harnessing People Analytics through the Cognisess Pro platform is a hundred times faster and accurate than any human assessment. This includes widening the search for retail roles to attract applicants from a variety of backgrounds and experiences – many of which would be overlooked during traditional manual processes. And although some applicants may have the relevant transferable skills – others simply wouldn’t have the abilities or personality that the position requires. Cognisess Pro understands what to look for – in an instant.

However, even after hiring a candidate, it can be difficult to know you’ve hired a high quality applicant who will stay the distance in retail for the long term. Last year, Korn Ferry found that part-time retail employees have an 81% turnover rate on average, this means the retail sector is having to constantly recruiting to fill positions which is intensely resource hungry, disruptive to operations and puts pressure on delivering sales targets in such a highly dynamic customer-facing environment. Meta-data analysis by Kristof-Brown  found that employees who relate to a company’s culture are more satisfied in their role and more likely to stay. Hiring people who fit into the team they work with and the culture of the store may help them feel comfortable in their environment and more likely to perform well. 

Cognisess Pro provides additional levels of People Analytics insight in the recruitment process to complement this opportunity. Our Culture Fit tool helps recruiters understand whether an applicant will fit into their company’s culture, and our Team Fit tool rates how well an applicant’s personality traits and skills would fit the store team’s profile. This gamified set of assessments means analysis can be made at an early stage and without having to invest in time off the floor to hold individual and team fit meetings. This allows managers to identify candidates who have a natural fit to their company’s culture and to a team’s unique dynamic energy before even meeting them. This additional level of insight means you are not only selecting the best candidate for the role, you are also investing in an employee who is more likely to thrive and stay.

Be confident – find and hire the right talent

Constantly replacing retail employees is a drain on time and cost. Hiring the wrong talent for your company only exasperates that problem. By using Cognisess Pro and harnessing the power of People Analytics, managers can rely on our data-driven platform to quickly and accurately make the best people decisions every time. Find out how Cognisess Pro can expand and improve your applicant pool, book a demo with us today.