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Driving Meaningful Hiring Equity with Soft Skills Hiring

How do you both fill positions more quickly and find employees who will stay and thrive for years to come in this tricky hiring climate? Make sure your hiring process is equitable. When speaking about hiring equity we need to “flip the script,” and begin to speak about it as a value add—not a liability. Hiring equity is not a series of quotas, targets, or checkboxes, but a system, a process. 

Hiring equity is best defined as a merit-based recruitment and promotion strategy that is engineered to avoid rewarding or penalizing a candidate based on any demographic characteristic. The critical idea is that you’re evening the playing field, putting everyone on equal footing, and then letting them all have the same shot at getting hired. 

Getting to hiring equity takes a systemic shift in an organization to make sure everyone understands the goal and the principles behind it.

The benefits of hiring equity

Ensuring your hiring process is equitable is not just a moral imperative, it’s also good for business. Here are some reasons why: 

1. Hiring equity helps businesses looking to make better hires. How?

  • It avoids groupthink. Allowing diversity in all senses (not just EEOC categories) to blossom in your organization encourages different ways of thinking. This allows for creative problem-solving and dissent that help your organization make smarter, more rational choices.
  • It reduces background noise. Letting the characteristics of each applicant speak for themselves makes the pure predictors of performance more visible. Focusing on these key indicators means you ignore extraneous characteristics that might have distracted you or biased your decision-making in the past.

2. Hiring equity helps businesses looking to make faster hires. How?

  • It increases candidate volume. Screening in (instead of out) less traditional candidates who may be missing keywords on their resumes, network or connections, or a certain level of pedigree, will let more candidates through the funnel. Even better, these non-traditional candidates with high fit may have been missed by other companies as well and more eager to work.
  • It reduces grunt work. Freeing up recruiters from slogging through resumes hunting for keywords and running endless background checks, you can redirect their energies to only the most promising candidates. This will shorten the time to interview and hire.

Improving hiring equity with soft skills

The first step in this shift towards hiring equity requires a stronger emphasis on soft skills as a recruitment focus. Hiring for soft skills helps optimize your candidate fit, finding those hidden gems who will thrive in your role and organization. This is something that HR professionals know well. In a report from, 67% of HR managers said that they would be willing to hire a candidate who lacked technical abilities if their soft skills were strong. Science backs this decision up.

Assessing and hiring for soft skills both boosts employee performance and prevents employee attrition. How?

  • A soft skills focus boosts employee performance. A focus on soft skills maximizes prospective role fit pre-hire and sets employees up for success. Post-hire, knowing this soft skills profile allows you to skill build in a way that avoids as many roadblocks to productivity as possible.
  • A soft skills focus prevents employee attrition. A focus on soft skills selects candidates pre-hire who are more likely to stay long term. Post-hire, knowing this soft skills profile allows you to skill build in a way that makes employees feel valued.

Soft skill assessments enable your team to reap these benefits. The core principle of soft skills assessments is that they should be used to build superstar employees and serve as a platform for growth. They are a tool that organizations can use to help employees get better at their jobs in a way that makes employees feel that you are invested in them and their growth within your organization.

Assessing soft skills equitably

How do you assess these soft skills equitably? By embracing AI technology.

Humans have biases hardwired into their brains. Biases are just shortcuts; shortcuts that help us make quicker decisions and deal with the massive amount of information that is constantly flowing at us. Just as we can’t consciously think about each breath we breathe or each step we take, we don’t have the mental bandwidth to thoughtfully parse thousands of candidates either. AI technology, on the other hand, can. AI tech doesn’t need biased shortcuts because it processes information quicker, easier, and more consistently than humans can.

What does this mean for the HR space? Relying on human judgment has negative repercussions in the drive for equity in the hiring process. Think about the way a recruiter might traditionally explain a hiring decision and the language they use. The interview “felt good,” the fit “felt right”, they could “picture them fitting in.” There’s a reason that phone screens and resume reviews have single-digit percentage success rates at picking the right candidate. They let humans go with their gut and their shortcuts and their biases and, consequently, miss out on great hires. 

By leaning on AI technology like Cangrade’s Pre-Hire Assessment to screen candidates for soft skills, your organization can take its commitment to hiring equity to the next level, getting better hires faster who will drive your business forward.