Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) is urging the travel industry to improve on its inclusive hiring practices as the sector rapidly reopens and as workforces rebuild.
“It’s tempting to take shortcuts given the current labour shortage,” the company stated in a release issued Tuesday (Nov. 8).
Flight Centre Travel Group Americas DEI Manager Emese Graham said moving from a state of unawareness through awareness, active interventions and addressing unconscious bias on a personal level are all part of the solution when it comes to inclusive hiring.
But the biggest impact comes from “mitigating bias using a few structural safeguards.”
“At FCTG, we endeavour to maintain consistency in the way we evaluate applicants by using a pre-determined scoring matrix for both reviewing applications and conducting interviews, using a panel of decision-makers instead of a single person, and sticking to structured interviews.” said Graham.
“Of course, when implementing safeguards like this into your recruitment process, it’s essential to ensure your scoring matrix is inclusive and accessible for all.”
For example: things like eye contact, firm handshakes, or speaking without pausing or stuttering can be challenges to neurodivergent candidates and therefore “aren’t good indicators” to include in an evaluation of a candidate’s presentation skills, FCTG said.
Limiting opportunities for unconscious bias
She added that an often-overlooked source of possible unconscious bias is correspondence with job candidates.
“If the role’s decision-makers are the same people going back and forth with candidates about their application status and availability for interviews, there’s more opportunity for small judgments to sneak in that could factor into evaluations,” she said.
For example: what possible judgments might a decision-maker unconsciously make about a candidate if they were to: respond to an email at 11:30 p.m.? Use British instead of American spelling? Have a headshot in their email signature? Have limited availability for interview times?
FCTG said it is addressing this by using a calendar tool to allow candidates to pick interview times that are suitable for them.
Another solution could be to have scheduling correspondence completed by someone who won’t be making any decisions about the role.
Retiring the reference check
“Reference checks create a lot of room for bias,” FCTG said. “Not only are employers relying on the impartiality of the referee, but some questions are also more likely to cast a negative light on minority candidates.”
Graham suggested considering how asking about attendance issues can be discriminatory against people with disabilities and chronic illness, or how asking about team culture fit can be an issue for LGBTQ2+ candidates, women, neurodiverse folks, newly-immigrated employees, and racialized people.
“We’ve eliminated reference checks from our recruitment process here at FCTG, which not only avoids that potential for bias, but also helps us to get an offer to the best candidate sooner,” Graham said.
Inclusive job ads
Personal prejudice is a small piece in a much larger system that includes internal, interpersonal, organizational, and structural oppression, the company said.
Therefore, one of the most important steps is to consider equity outcomes at the very beginning of the recruitment cycle.
““While drafting your job postings, consider which elements are absolutely essential for the success of your role and which can be approached with more flexibility,” said Graham. “For instance, is experience with a certain software essential or could training be provided to the right hire? Could the best candidate have more or fewer years of experience than what you’ve asked for? Does the right hire need to “fit” into your current team culture, or are you prepared to cultivate a team culture in which everyone can thrive?”
Employee Resource Groups, in addition to a diverse recruitment team, can be consulted to develop a flexible vision of what you’re looking for in an ideal candidate.
“At FCTG, we have developed a guideline for inclusive job advertisements with consideration for possible biased language and qualifications that may be too narrow,” Graham said.