women candidate highest 2021
Image: Bro Vector/AdobeStock

There is encouraging news on the diversity and inclusion front: Women and people of color rated their 2021 candidate experiences more positively than older candidates, male candidates and white candidates did, according to a new report.

This may be due in part to the fact that employers are adding more inclusive language and examples of diversity to their career sites, candidate communications, job ads and other marketing collateral for their employment brands, according to Talent Board’s 2021 North American benchmark research.

SEE: The COVID-19 gender gap: Why women are leaving their jobs and how to get them back to work (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

“In fact, historically, companies with inclusive workplaces end up being far less affected by crises like financial crashes and pandemics,’’ the report said.

Employers said their marketing content included company values (99%), diversity, equity and inclusion statements (83%) and why people want to work there, Talent Board’s report said. Talent Board added that this is the first year it asked respondents to identify their race and ethnicity.

The importance of perceived fairness

The 2021 research also revealed:

  • Willingness to refer others: Black male candidates have the highest positive ratings when it comes to willingness to refer others, based on their candidate experiences — 72% higher than white males. They are followed by Hispanic women, Asian women and Black women.
  • Perception of fairness in assessments: Candidates who identified as Black, Hispanic, Asian and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander rated the fairness of their behavioral/ personality assessment process up to 12% higher than Native American/Alaska Native and Multiracial/Biracial candidates. There was little to no difference between women, men and non-binary individuals.
  • Perception of fairness in interviews: Candidates who identified as Hispanic, Native American/Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander rated the fairness of their video interview process up to 8% higher than white and Black candidates. There was little to no difference between the rating of women and men.
  • Ageism: This continues to be a minor but consistent theme in the candidates’ comments, “so it’s no surprise that younger individuals rated their candidate experiences higher than older individuals did,” Talent Board said.

The overall perceived fairness of the candidate experience “is a major factor in an employment brand’s reputation and the ratings it received from candidates,’’ the report noted.

When candidates feel like their overall experience is a fair one and that they are truly competitive for jobs they’re qualified for, they tend to rate their experiences more positively regardless of their gender, ethnicity, race and age, according to the report.

Their perception and company ratings are even higher when they receive steady communication and engagement activities from an employer at appropriate times during their experience, according to the report.

Referrals from those not hired

Talent Board also dove into ratings from candidates who didn’t get hired. This  accounted for 87% of the candidates and more than 127,000 individuals in North America alone. It found that Black males who were more likely to refer others had a 120% higher net promoter score rating — which asks respondents to rate the likelihood that they would recommend a company, product or service — than white males.

Black women who were more likely to refer others had a 54% higher NPS rating than white women, the report stated. The results are similar for Hispanic and Asian women and men.

“Remember, these are all individuals who didn’t get the jobs they applied to and yet were likely to refer others based on their positive experience,’’ the Talent Board report said.

The findings were similar when looking at gender and generation.

“Female Gen Z candidates who were more likely to refer others had a 51% higher NPS rating than female Millennials and a 77% higher NPS rating than female Gen Xers,’’ the report said. “Male Gen Z candidates who were more likely to refer others had a 60% higher NPS rating than male Millennials and a 106% higher NPS rating than male Gen Xers.”

Opportunities for greater diversity, equity and inclusion

However, more work needs to be done to achieve better diversity, equity and inclusion to improve the candidate experience for all groups that haven’t historically had the same equality, the report observed.

For example, the report cited its 2021 Talent Board/iCIMS survey of talent acquisition and HR professionals, which revealed that only 34% of respondents said their companies set diversity-related service level agreements or specific targets for both recruiters and hiring managers.

Nearly half (45%) set absolutely no SLAs or targets for either group, and more than half of their companies have not used diversity-related data or analytics beyond the minimum required for EEOC compliance, according to Talent Board.

“Clearly, DE&I is good for business, and companies need to work harder to become more diverse and inclusive,’’ the report said.

Over 150 companies hiring around the world participated in the 2021 Talent Board benchmark research program, which collected the feedback and experiences of nearly 200,000 job candidates.