The Hiring Bias No One Talks About

3 Min Read
Tony   |   September 24, 2019
Hiring Bias

What is a Non-For-Profit? 

Non-For-Profit Organisations are organisations that are operating for their purposes, and not for the profit or gain of individual members. They are usually either Charities, or bodies that are providing services to the community. Examples might be Childcare Centres, Art Centres, Health and Animal Welfare Organisations, Medical Research Companies or Social Organisations. 


Recruitment at a Non-For-Profit

Both NFPs and corporates borrow practises from each other at all stages of recruitment, from writing and placing job advertisements, screening and reference checks, right through to on-boarding and exiting. But there are additional compliance and ethical standards applied for NFPs, over and above corporates both for paid roles and for volunteers. Further to this, NFPs work in a particularly complex environment - they must be commercially competitive, as well as demonstrate high levels of ethics and accountability for supporters, funding agencies and clients alike. Likewise, the recruitment needs are just as complex. From the actual roles required, to the culture, the organisation and structure - the complexities of an NFP are completely unique to the sector. 


The Experience Bias

In my past life as a recruitment manager, I was all too familiar with the internal practices of NFPs and what springs to mind is the phrase - “If you want the same outcomes as before, keep doing the same thing”. Countless times I’d hear my NFP clients say that past experience was no issue - “Talent is the most important thing for us”, “Yes, absolutely we are open to hiring someone different.” “Experience in alternative industries is no problem”. But when it came down to the offer stage - they would opt for the candidates with prior Non-For-Profit experience every time. NFP's always hire people from other NFP's - the hiring conditions stating "the candidate must have 2-5 years NFP experience". The statistics are well documented for the gender difference in job applications. A recent LinkedIn study revealed that whilst both genders browse jobs similarly, they apply to them very differently. When you consider that women, before they even apply for jobs, feel they must meet 100% of the criteria listed, whilst men statistically apply anyway, even if they only meet around 60% of the prerequisites. Layer on the necessity for prior NFP experience, and imagine all the potential candidates that are lost, before the search for talent has even begun. There is something in the news every other day about gender bias, but why is nobody talking about the “Experience Bias”?


Diversity = Innovation

These days, things are changing. Corporates love stealing talent from NFPs so a lot of knowledge is leaving the sector. But this should not necessarily be seen as a bad thing. It may force Non-For-Profit organisations to look externally, and consider new talent with diverse experiences, alternative viewpoints and differing opinions, to help them strategise and problem solve better. 


Our client at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Foundation needed staff capacity to engage with potential bequesters who were considering leaving a gift to Peter Mac in their Will. So they posted a bequest role on the Weploy platform. While this role would traditionally go to a person with specific NFP experience, they were willing to hire a 19 year old Weployee who matched with transferable skills. Everyone was delighted when she excelled in the role. So when Peter Mac later needed donor engagement roles they used Weploy to fill them. Once again, two candidates came in without any prior NFP experience but held the correct attitude and transferable attributes which once again made them a successful addition to the team.  So much so, the Foundation team later went on to win the Fundraising Institute of Australia’s 2019 Fundraising team of the year.


Diversify or Die! 

I’m always eager to hear how our clients use Weploy, and I welcome their feedback both good and bad, because it reveals more learnings and insights into the world of work today. The story of Peter Mac just demonstrates to me the value of disrupting the traditional hiring process. Not only were our Weployees able to provide valuable support for an under capacity NFP team, enabling them to continue to effectively engage with and service its loyal donor base - we also provided a company wide impact. By challenging expectations and changing up the way things have always been done, the hiring team were able to see that looking for previous NFP experience is not always an unnecessary limitation in recruitment efforts. If hiring at NFPs is limited to a restricted pool - it doesn’t take a genius to identify that this is not a sustainable hiring philosophy. Sometimes, the road less travelled reaps the highest rewards. With that in mind, I would urge all NFPs to take a step back and look at the macro hiring environment within their sector. Outcomes from mixed corporate teams are proven to be more successful, and are statistically more profitable. NFPs should consider following suit, starting to look for candidates from diverse backgrounds and mixed sectors and they must start today.

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