How Technology Can Help Improve Hiring Diversity & Fairness

July 9, 2020
Checkr Editor

Passionate calls for change are ringing around the world right now. Thanks to those voices, more and more companies are sharing their support through various channels. These are meaningful expressions, but it isn’t enough to just post messages on social media. True change requires looking inward, and rethinking or even overhauling the systemic discrimination that exists within our corporate practices.

Everyone agrees that diversity and inclusion are important, but most companies today aren’t doing nearly enough to hire and promote diverse talent. That’s due in large part to the way their hiring systems are set up. Recruiters often fall into the trap of looking for “golden resumes” and don’t actively consider the biases that drive talent from all backgrounds out of their pipelines. 

Using technology to improve diversity, inclusion, and equity through hiring and HR will help leaders find talent where it might have missed out in the past, without sacrificing efficiency. Here are two key things that every company should consider: 

Learn where you stand on diversity, inclusion, and equity

Before any company can move forward, it first has to know where it stands. The only real way to evaluate how well your company is doing in terms of diversity, inclusion, and equity is by asking the people who are impacted by the decisions and policies: your employees. 

There are two good approaches, and to get the whole picture, a company should use both. First are quantitative surveys, which  measure where you currently stand in terms of diversity. Surveys produce hard numbers on representation from specific groups, which is important for understanding where you need improvement and measuring advancement over time.

However, the numbers only go so far – the real story of a company’s efforts is in its culture. The second step is a qualitative survey, where employees are asked careful questions about belonging and inclusion. Combining the data from the quantitative and the qualitative surveys gives leaders a comprehensive picture of where they stand so they can plan a better path forward. 

One silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it has given many companies time to overhaul processes. For example, our own VP of Talent recently dove deep into how we hire in order to understand the experience from top to bottom and has been working to retool our hiring process. 

All HR departments should be doing the same thing. Maybe the best available resources for understanding where you stand now in your hiring process are the most recent hires. Taking a couple of minutes for a conversation about their experiences will yield valuable information, especially when the memories are still fresh. 

Once all of the data and experiences are together, the head of hiring should chart out the entire process from beginning to end. Understand where you find candidates, how you reach out to them, and how you move them through the steps toward hiring. 

Build stronger, fairer hiring practices — using technology

Criminal records are one important component of diversity that often get overlooked by employers. Today, criminal records mirror the systemic injustices in our society and disproportionately impact communities of color. These records vary widely and can include minor arrest records all the way to felony convictions. As a result, background checks are often used as a tool to place blanket bans on people with criminal records—which poses a big dilemma for companies who are looking to create diverse and inclusive workspaces. Fortunately, technology can help employers be more mindful about their hiring processes and help keep hiring decision-makers accountable. 

Checkr’s new People Trust Platform uses technology to improve the efficiency and accuracy of background checks. The platform’s newest innovation is a product called Checkr Assess, which helps improve hiring consistency and fairness through thoughtful automation. Assess promotes fairness by helping hiring managers understand what each charge truly means, and then offering tools to quickly move forward with candidates whose charges aren’t relevant to the role for which they’re hiring. By taking time to determine which charges aren’t truly disqualifying – a driving violation for a role that doesn’t require driving, for example – companies can more consistently hire exceptional talent that too-often goes overlooked because of a criminal record.

More to the point, given that communities of Black and Brown people are policed at higher rates, these technology tools can help companies overcome discriminatory biases that have stood for far too long. Having a job decreases recidivism rates, and by hiring fair chance talent, companies can help decrease the amount of money spent on prisons and jails every year— freeing up funds for more important causes.


Understanding where your attempts at improving diversity, inclusion, and equity are falling short, reviewing and overhauling hiring processes, and setting diverse and fair chance talent up for success are not always easy steps to take. The work required to accomplish genuine change is often difficult and frustrating – and rarely succeeds on the first attempt.

However, the goal of creating a more fair and equitable world for people of all colors, and every background, is worth any effort. Ever-improving technology can help us meet the challenges and build environments where everyone can succeed. 

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