Woman outraged CIBC job application suggests traditional regalia for video cover letter

Interesting case. CIBC engaged an Indigenous consultant, who in turn consulted other Indigenous community leaders and experts, in order to encourage Indigenous recruitment and recognize Indigenous identities.

So clear intent to be inclusive but can understand why the “regalia” reference in particular provoked Paquette’s response.

Would have been interesting, of course, to know the reactions of other applicants:

Christine Paquette was scrolling through an online job site when she came across a posting looking to recruit Indigenous people for customer service jobs at CIBC.

The 21-year-old Ojibway and Métis woman works as a part-time receptionist at an esthetics salon and was hoping to find a second job, one that could lead to a possible career.

“It seemed kind of like a good way to get my foot in the door,” Paquette said in an interview with Go Public from her home in Winnipeg.

Her fluent French and work experience made Paquette think that a banking job could be a good fit for her — until she started going through the questions in the online application.

“It said along the lines, ‘Please explain, like, your favourite tradition or your favourite story,'” Paquette said. “I was like, ‘Huh, that’s a little odd thing to be asking.’ … How is a traditional story going to help me excel in, like, the role of a bank teller?”

Paquette continued with the application, even though that question didn’t sit well with her. But she didn’t get very far after that.

“That was, like, the appetizer,” she explained.

The questions continued: “How would you describe your communication skills? TIP: Why don’t you show us instead?” the application read.

It went on to encourage Indigenous applicants to let their personality shine in a video cover letter and “to write a song, poem, dress in traditional regalia or bring in back-up dancers!” as part of the video submission.

“I was like, OK, that’s enough, that’s all I need to see,” Paquette said.

“I want you to prove to me how Indigenous you are,” she said. “That’s how I took it.”

Like many businesses across Canada, CIBC told Go Public that it is committed to taking steps to ensure its workforce reflects the communities where its employees live and work. But experts in the field of Indigenous recruitment strategy say the bank’s job application — and Christine’s experience — is a good opportunity for companies to learn better practices when pursuing diverse workplaces.

The sacredness of regalia

Paquette says that the question asking her to share her “favourite Indigenous tradition/story” brought up a wide range of emotions.

She says her grandmother went to a residential day school and was made to be ashamed of her heritage, so she didn’t pass down any traditions to her daughter, Christine’s mother — who in turn couldn’t teach Christine.

“How are you going to go on and ask me to share my favourite story or tradition when … settlers and, like, residential schools taught us that it’s not OK?” Paquette said. “To be asking Indigenous people to share their favourite story or their favourite part of their culture that they don’t even have access to anymore is really insensitive.”

Paquette also thought it wasn’t appropriate for CIBC to suggest that she dress in traditional clothing as part of the application.

Go Public showed the CIBC application to experts in Indigenous recruitment work.

Patricia Baxter is a member of Sheguiandah First Nation and a board member with Indigenous Works, a non-profit organization that promotes inclusion and engagement of Indigenous people in Canadian workplaces. The group consults with a wide variety of companies across the country, including McDonald’s, Bell Canada and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Baxter says that for a professional position within a financial institution, she doesn’t see the purpose of the question.

“What many Canadians don’t realize is that regalia isn’t just traditional clothing,” she said. “It’s a right to wear that clothing, and it’s a responsibility on how you use that clothing…. It’s very sacred and it’s attached to ceremony. So it’s not something you just put on.”

CIBC consults Indigenous group

Paquette says she was so upset by the questions that she decided to post her concerns to CIBC on Twitter.

She says she was surprised by the response. The bank said it has been working with a not-for-profit Indigenous organization, Our Children’s Medicine (OCM), and that the questions that offended Paquette had actually been designed in consultation with Indigenous community leaders and elders.

“The purpose of these questions is to help remove barriers that may exist as part of a traditional job application process by showcasing transferrable skills and potential, while giving Indigenous candidates the opportunity to share stories that are important to them,” CIBC said in a Twitter response to Paquette.

“We encourage candidates to simply say ‘prefer not to answer’ if they … don’t feel comfortable with any specific questions.”

After Paquette shared her thoughts on social media, the regalia reference was removed from the CIBC application.

Go Public contacted the bank to ask more about the thought process behind the questions.

“At CIBC we are committed to taking steps to ensure our workforce reflects the communities where we live and work and to removing barriers that may exist through traditional job application processes,” Trish Tervit, CIBC’S director of public affairs, wrote in an emailed statement.

Tervit said CIBC’s relationship with OCM has been instrumental in creating relationships with First Nations, Métis and Inuit job-seekers and that the bank has hired more than 70 Indigenous people through its Indigenous recruitment program.

What CIBC didn’t say is that OCM wrote the questions on the application.

Go Public contacted OCM. In a statement, the organization confirmed that the questions were created “in consultation with Indigenous elders, knowledge keepers and other members of the community.”

The statement, sent to Go Public from one of the group’s managers, Kelly Hashemi, said that OCM’s application process “is crafted to allow hiring managers to identify lived, cultural and transferable skills which get lost during a traditional ‘corporate’ application and interview process.”

OCM said it’s a registered charity in Toronto that works with employers to “implement our hiring process at their companies and create action plans to learn from, engage with and attract talent from the Indigenous community.”

‘A learning experience’

An expert who spoke to Go Public says the situation is an opportunity for all businesses in Canada — not just non-Indigenous groups — to learn something and to recognize that any organization can make a mistake.

“Just because you’re an Indigenous person, Indigenous organization or Indigenous company doesn’t mean you’ve got some magical perspective on everything,” said Kelly Lendsay, who is Cree and Métis, and president and CEO of Indigenous Works, based in Saskatoon.

Lendsay says recruiters should ask open-ended questions, such as, “Tell me something you’re proud of,” and then leave it up to applicants to bring up stories about their culture or experience if they choose.

“Someone might say, you know, ‘I’m really proud of the fact that I chair the food bank,'” Lendsay said. “Another person says, ‘I’m really proud of the fact that I’ve reconnected with my culture to learn powwow dancing. I’m a fancy dancer.'”

While he commends the efforts of CIBC and OCM to help Indigenous people enter the banking sector, Lendsay says there’s room to grow.

“They’re obviously making good efforts here. But we have to listen to this, to Christine, and take that feedback and make the changes,” Lendsay said. “We don’t want employers to be turned off by … these stories. Let’s use it as a learning experience.”

Strategy in action

More than a decade ago, Calgary-based organization ECO Canada consulted with Indigenous Works — then called the Aboriginal Human Resource Council — to create a concrete strategy to break down barriers faced by Indigenous people looking to enter the workforce, particularly in the environmental sector.

The organization launched a weeks-long program called BEAHR, available to Indigenous community members looking to learn new skills in order to boost their chances of finding employment in that field. More than 4,000 participants from over 250 Indigenous communities across Canada have graduated from the program since its inception, and it’s caught the attention of employers across the country looking to develop their own recruitment policies.

“It’s a very complex issue, and it’s an issue where cultural sensitivity is very important,” said Yogendra Chaudhry, ECO Canada’s vice-president of professional services. When it comes to job applications, Chaudhry says, the process should have a consistent set of questions for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups.

“If you design two separate sets of questions … then you’re not looking at the inclusion part,” he said. “You’re still working with two separate systems and then trying to integrate the workers.”

Chaudhry says his organization is focused on creating meaningful and long-term employment, rather than looking at plans to create a diverse workplace as one-off opportunities or PR strategies.

As for Paquette, she says she supports the idea of companies, like CIBC, investing in diversifying their workforce. But she says the only questions related to an applicant’s Indigeneity should be whether the person identifies as First Nations, Métis or Inuit. The rest, she says, should be left out of the hiring equation.

“I think it’s great to encourage Indigenous people to show off their culture and be who they are,” Paquette said.  “But to … ask them to do it just for you to land an interview, I don’t think that was appropriate at all.”

Source: Woman outraged CIBC job application suggests traditional regalia for video cover letter

Most support workplace diversity but not if it’s a job qualification: national survey

Not that surprising as there is often a difference between what people support in principle compared to when it has the potential to affect them:

Most people in a new Canada-wide survey say equal representation in government is important, but they don’t support employers taking demographic characteristics into account in hiring and promotion decisions. 

The survey by the Canadian Hub for Applied and Social Research at the University of Saskatchewan was done by phone between Dec. 1 and Dec. 24. It asked 1,000 people about equality, diversity and inclusion in workplaces and government. 

The majority of respondents said they support various minority groups being in government, including women (89 per cent), Indigenous people (86 per cent), persons with disabilities (83 per cent), visible minorities (81 per cent) and members of the LGBTQ community (68 per cent).

The survey also asked if employers should only consider qualified candidates or if they should also take into account demographic characteristics when hiring. 

About 60 per cent of those surveyed said employers should only consider how qualified a candidate is, even if it results in less diversity. 

“It’s the inverse of what folks were saying in the previous battery of questions, saying it’s important that these groups be represented,” research director Jason Disano told The Canadian Press in a phone interview from Saskatoon. 

“Folks like the idea in theory, but when it comes to real-world implications or potential ramifications on them as an individual, that’s when they say, ‘Wait a minute, maybe let’s take a step back from this. I support the idea, but I don’t support specific actions to do it.'”

About one-quarter of those surveyed, and most between the ages of 35 and 54, also said they missed a career opportunity or they know someone who missed a career opportunity because of a decision to increase workplace diversity.

“It’s surprising but also makes a lot of sense from the perspective that (equity, diversity and inclusion) initiatives really only started coming into being in the last 10 to 20 years,” Disano said. 

“Those who are 55 years of age and up are settled in their career, and the younger individuals — especially with these COVID-19 times — may have had fewer opportunities to actually be potentially impacted by some of these initiatives.” 

Disano said the survey also indicated, across the board, that women were more likely than men to support diversity in workplaces.

Those surveyed were also asked about the importance of elected officials speaking French. 

Most respondents said politicians should be fluent in both official languages. About 83 per cent said it’s important for the prime minister to speak French, while 65 per cent said it’s important for members of provincial governments and 64 per cent said it’s important for premiers.

Those in Quebec, more than in other jurisdictions, said elected officials should be fluent in both official languages. 

Disano said it’s important to ask questions about diversity, representation and language because it shows there’s a need to have a broader conversation about workplace diversity among governments, workplaces and other organizations.

“The issue is really in terms of convincing people why it’s important and how they make an overall difference,” Disano said.

The survey was reliable to within plus or minus 3.1 per cent, with a 95 per cent confidence level. 

Source: https://www.nationalnewswatch.com/2022/01/10/most-support-workplace-diversity-but-not-if-its-a-job-qualification-national-survey/#.YdwSCMnMKUl

Beware of Automated Hiring It won’t end employment discrimination. In fact, it could make it worse.

Some interesting ideas to reduce the risks of bias and discrimination:

Algorithms make many important decisions for us, like our creditworthiness, best romantic prospects and whether we are qualified for a job. Employers are increasingly turning to automated hiring platforms, believing they’re both more convenient and less biased than humans. However, as I describe in a new paper, this is misguided.

In the past, a job applicant could walk into a clothing store, fill out an application, and even hand it straight to the hiring manager. Nowadays, her application must make it through an obstacle course of online hiring algorithms before it might be considered. This is especially true for low-wage and hourly workers.

The situation applies to white-collar jobs too. People applying to be summer interns and first-year analysts at Goldman Sachs have their résumés digitally scanned for keywords that can predict success at the company. And the company has now embracedautomated interviewing.

Automated hiring can create a closed loop system. Advertisements created by algorithms encourage certain people to send in their résumés. After the résumés have undergone automated culling, a lucky few are hired and then subjected to automated evaluation, the results of which are looped back to establish criteria for future job advertisements and selections. This system operates with no transparency or accountability built in to check that the criteria are fair to all job applicants.

Bias creeps into reference checks, so is it time to ditch them?

Hadn’t thought of this aspect of bias in reference checks. When hiring in government, I was always conscious of the selection bias in the references submitted – people generally do not submit negative references! When asked if I was willing to be a reference, I would flag if I had any issues that I would have to include in the reference:

As much as we’d like to think we’ve refined the hiring process over the years to carefully select the best candidate for the job, bias still creeps in.

Candidates who come from privileged backgrounds are more able to source impressive, well-connected referrers and this perpetuates the cycle of privilege. While the referrer’s reputation and personal clout make up one aspect of the recommendation, what they actually say – the content – completes the picture.

Research shows gender bias even invades in the content of recommendations. In this study female applicants for post-doctoral research positions in the field of geoscience were only half as likely as their male counterparts to receive excellent (as opposed to just good) endorsements from their referees. Since it’s unlikely that of the 1,200 recommendation letters analysed, female candidates were less excellent than the male candidates, it means something else is going on.

A result like this may be explained by the gender role conforming adjectives that are used to describe female versus male applicants. Women are more likely to be observed and described as “nurturing” and “helpful”, whereas men are attributed with stronger, more competence-based words like “confident” and “ambitious”. This can, in turn, lead to stronger recommendations for male candidates.

Worryingly, in another study similar patterns emerged in the way black versus white, and female versus male, medical students were described in performance evaluations. These were used as input to select residents.

In both cases the members of minority groups were described using less impressive words (like “competent” versus “exceptional”), a pattern that was observed even after controlling for licensing examination scores, an objective measure of competence.

Recommendations aren’t good predictors of performance

Let’s put the concerns about bias aside for a moment while we examine an even bigger question: are recommendations actually helpful, valid indicators of future job performance or are they based on outdated traditions that we keep enforcing?

Even back in the 90s, researchers were trying to alert hiring managers to the ineffectiveness of this as a tool, noting some major problems.

The first problem is leniency, referees are allowed to be chosen by the candidate and tend to be overly positive. The second is too little knowledge of the applicant, as referees are unlikely to see all aspects of a prospective employees’ work and personal character.

Reliability is another problem. It turns out there is higher agreement between two letters written by the same referee for different candidates, than there is for two letters (written by two different referees) for the same candidate!

There is evidence that people behave in different ways when they are in different situations at work, which would reasonably lead to different recommendations from various referees. However, the fact that there is more consistency between what referees say about different candidates than between what different referees say about the same candidate remains a problem.

The alternatives to the referee

There are a few initiatives that are currently being used as alternatives to standard recruitment processes. One example is gamification – where candidates play spatial awareness or other job-relevant games to demonstrate their competence. For example, Deloitte has teamed up with software developer, Arctic Shores, for a fresh take on recruitment in an attempt to move away from the more traditional methods of recruitment.

However, gamification is not without its flaws – these methods would certainly favour individuals who are more experienced with certain kinds of video games, and gamers are more likely to be male. So it’s a bit of a catch-22 for recruiters who are introducing bias through a process designed to try to eliminate bias.

If companies are serious about overcoming potential bias in recruitment and selection processes, they should consider addressing gender, racial, economic and other forms of inequality. One way to do this is through broadening the recruitment pool by making sure the language they use in position descriptions and jobs ads is more inclusive. Employers can indicate flexible work options are available and make the decision to choose the minority candidates when they are equally qualified as other candidates.

Another option is to increase the diversity of the selection committee to add some new perspectives to previously homogeneous committees. Diverse selectors are more likely to speak up about and consider the importance of hiring more diverse candidates.

Job seekers could even try running a letter of reference through software, such as Textio, that reports gender bias in pieces of text and provides gender-neutral alternatives. But just as crucial is the need for human resources departments to start looking for more accurate mechanisms to evaluate candidates’ competencies.

via Bias creeps into reference checks, so is it time to ditch them?

Why diversity never comes to some workplaces

Interesting study showing the effect referrals have on recruitment – not what you think:

Striving for greater diversity in the workplace – be it gender, race, age or experience levels among employees – is a long sought-after goal by business leaders looking for a competitive advantage.

Several studies show that companies with a diverse workforce are more likely to outperform others in the field. So, with so much on the line, why do so many firms still struggle with a lack of gender, race or age diversity within their ranks?

Brian Rubineau, of McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management in Montreal, and Roberto Fernandez of MIT Sloan in Massachusetts tackled that question in a recent study examining the role of recruitment techniques in workplace make-up and how employers can influence the process to ensure greater diversity.

Specifically, the study, published in Organizational Science, looked at word-of mouth recruiting, the most common way for organizations to fill jobs.

Using mathematical modelling, the researchers challenge a long-held belief that the referral method serves to preserve and, often, worsen job segregation. The theory, based on previous research, posits that people are most likely to recommend others who are most like themselves.

Women, for example, tend to reach out to women in their networks, and men do likewise. The same is thought to be true across other demographics, including age, experience, religion or ethnicity, says Dr. Rubineau, an assistant professor of organizational behaviour.

But the researchers found that workplace segregation actually has less to do with who is making the referral than it does with how often a referral is being made by a particular individual or group.

Unchecked, members of even the smallest groups will, over time, dominate. All it takes is for its members to be more active than other groups in recruiting from within their own community network.

“If you have a group that is referring at a higher rate than other groups, then that group is – over time – going to become the majority, no matter how small it was to start with,” says Dr. Rubineau.

Dr. Rubineau says employers can use the study findings to their advantage. By tracking referral patterns, organizations can map hiring trends and determine whether word-of-mouth recruiting is helping or hurting diversity goals. They can also urge underrepresented groups to be more active in suggesting prospective employees.

“Organizations can’t realistically eliminate word-of-mouth recruitment because it is such a dominate tool,” says Dr. Rubineau.

Source: Why diversity never comes to some workplaces – The Globe and Mail

Could a ‘blind recruitment’ policy make Canada less racist?

Good debate and discussion to have, given work by Oreopoulos and others demonstrating hiring bias:

What’s in a name? More than you may think. Removing names from job applications — a process known as blind recruitment — can actually curb both overt racism and unconscious bias.

And at least one MP thinks that Canada should adopt the policy.

Liberal MP Ahmed Hussen made that statement after CBC Marketplaceinvestigated how race and culture influences how companies treat shoppers, apartment-hunters and job-seekers across Canada.

Hussen stood in Parliament Wednesday to suggest that the federal government follow Britain’s lead to better ensure our government ranks reflect the people they serve.

“We must ensure our public service adopts name-blind recruitment,” the newly elected MP said. “I rise today to bring attention to an idea that will assist in our fight to end discrimination and attain real equality in our country.

“It is crucial that Canadians who have got the grades, skills, and the determination succeed.”

Britain adopted a blind-recruitment policy for its civil service in October 2015 after a number of organizations found the practice worthwhile.

While visible minorities make up almost 20 per cent of Canada’s population, the civil service is less diverse at only 14 per cent, according to 2013 data.

The months-long Marketplace investigation looked at blind recruitment and how bias affects how we’re treated and how we treat one another, including why we intervene — or don’t — to defend a stranger.

‘It’s had a huge impact’

When the Toronto Symphony Orchestra began to audition musicians blindly in 1980, putting them behind a screen, the result was profound.

While the hiring committee could hear an applicant’s performance, they not see what he or she looked like. They even put down a carpet so high heels couldn’t be heard.

Now the orchestra — which was made up almost entirely of white men in the 1970s — is almost half female and much more diverse.

“It’s had a huge impact from the beginning, when screens came in,” says David Kent, the TSO’s principal timpanist and personnel manager.

Source: Could a ‘blind recruitment’ policy make Canada less racist? – Canada – CBC News

Blind Auditions Could Give Employers A Better Hiring Sense

One way to address the biases in the hiring processes, whether diversity or background related (see earlier How an ethnic-sounding name may affect the job hunt regarding evidence of bias):

Typically, a hiring manager posts an opening, describes the ideal candidate and resumes come flooding in. After doing some interviews, the manager has to make a gut decision: Who is the best person for the job?

Research shows that more often than not, managers pick someone whose background is similar to theirs.

But, Vujosevic says, “There is definitely room to improve how we view talent, how we screen talent, how we engage with talent and how we end up interviewing talent.”

By “talent,” he means all the gifted young people he knew that weren’t getting job interviews at technology companies because they didn’t fit a certain idea of what a good job candidate looks like. They didn’t graduate from college, they taught themselves to code or they had a strong accent.

Vujosevic thinks he knows how to get around this problem with a completely different way of looking at hiring. He thought these unconventional applicants could get interviews if there was a way to show what they could do without revealing who they were.

So he created a website called GapJumpers where employers post a job along with some sort of challenge, like: Create a Web page or write a social media strategy. To apply for the job, you just take on the challenge.

“Right now, we are able to do blind auditions for software engineering roles, design roles, marketing roles, communication roles and allow candidates that might on paper not be a good fit, prove that they actually are,” he says.

He compares it to his favorite singing competition, NBC’s The Voice. Four celebrity judges sit in red super villain chairs with their backs turned to the stage. And then, someone sings. The judges hit a button and turn their chairs around. That’s the first time they see who’s performing, but they’ve already decided “I pick you for my team.” It’s a blind audition.

And that’s kind of how GapJumpers works.

Jeremiah Reyes is in charge of hiring at Dolby Laboratories. He wanted to spend less time sorting through applications and getting more qualified candidates, including people with nontraditional backgrounds.

Recently, a Dolby hiring manager was shocked to discover his favorite candidate came from a community college.

“The one that we did select, even in our debrief he basically said, ‘Wow, I think if I just saw his resume on my desk, I don’t know if I would have selected him,’ ” Reyes says. “It was one of those ‘aha’ moments for him that this is a really interesting tool.”

Blind Auditions Could Give Employers A Better Hiring Sense : All Tech Considered : NPR.

Bias-Free Hiring: Interview questions not to ask

An interesting but somewhat frustrating checklist of what to ask and what not to ask in interviewing candidates, as bias-free as possible. All too familiar to those of us in government, where the guidelines below are followed religiously and yet are deeply unsatisfying given the over-scripting that occurs. Sometimes it works out fine, sometimes less so:

  • Use the job description to identify the essential skills and abilities needed for the job. Determine which of these skills and abilities are best assessed through a written or practical test, through an interview, and from reference checks. From there, interview questions should be developed and clearly linked to the skills and abilities needed to do the job.
  • Develop the responses which you will look for in the candidates’ responses.
  • Attach a score to each question.
  • Use an interview panel when interviewing. Require each interviewer to write down each candidates’ responses to each question.
  • Ask each candidate the same questions.
  • After each interview, have the interview panel discuss the candidate’s responses and come to an agreed score for each question.

Bias-Free Hiring: Interview questions not to ask.