8 min read

The Impact of Online Reference Checks on Diversity and Inclusion in Hiring

This article explores the influence of online reference checks on diversity and inclusion in hiring, highlighting their benefits and challenges. It discusses how technology can be utilized to mitigate biases and foster equitable recruitment practices, ultimately emphasizing the importance of a balanced approach to leveraging online reference checks in building diverse teams.

What's Up with Online Reference Checks?

Hey there! Let's talk about something pretty important when it comes to hiring - making sure companies build teams with all sorts of different people from different backgrounds. Having diverse teams is awesome because then you get a big mix of perspectives, experiences and ideas. But how do online reference checks affect a company's ability to hire diverse employees?

It's a question a lot of companies are thinking about these days as more and more of them start using online reference checks instead of the old way of just calling someone's former boss on the phone. You've probably heard about these online systems by now. But just in case, let me quickly explain how they work...

The Modern Way to Get References

With online reference checks, a company sends an email to people who know the job applicant, like former co-workers or teachers. The email contains a link to an online survey where the references can share feedback about the applicant - stuff like their skills, work ethic, personality and so on. The company gets all those survey responses compiled into a report to learn more about the applicants they're considering hiring.

There are some awesome benefits to using online reference checks instead of traditional phone calls:

  • It's way more efficient since companies don't have to go back and forth scheduling calls.
  • The questions are totally standardized so all applicants get evaluated consistently.
  • The anonymity allows references to give honest opinions without worrying about consequences.

Sounds great, right? Well, there's also a potential downside when it comes to diversity and making sure companies hire people from all walks of life.

Diversity Risks of Online References

See, there are a few challenges with online reference checks that could make it harder to build diverse teams:

  1. The standardized questions might fail to capture all the unique strengths and perspectives that diverse candidates bring to the table. Everyone is different!
  2. Just like with any hiring process, online reference checks aren't immune to all sorts of potential biases, like people subconsciously favoring candidates similar to themselves. 
  3. Without the ability for back-and-forth conversations, online surveys might miss important context about a person's background and experiences.
  4. Some references, particularly from underrepresented groups, may face accessibility issues with using online platforms if they aren't tech-savvy or don't have reliable internet access.

Those are legitimate concerns for companies to think about. After all, you don't want policies that inadvertently make it harder to hire diverse talent, right?

Using Tech for Inclusive Hiring

But here's the good news - technology can actually be used as a tool to INCREASE diversity in hiring if companies are smart about it! 

Many online reference platforms have special features to reduce bias, like keeping all feedback anonymous so it can't be discriminated against based on someone's name or demographic info. The best platforms also structure their surveys around job-specific skills and qualifications, not irrelevant personal factors.

Plus, by making it easier to get input from a wider range of references like mentors and peers, not just former bosses, companies get a more well-rounded picture of candidates. The data can potentially reveal hiring disparities so companies know to re-examine their processes too.

At the end of the day, online reference checks alone shouldn't determine hiring decisions. But when combined with other tools like skills assessments, work samples and interviews, they provide another useful data point about candidates. And today's tech offers ways to make that data as bias-free and inclusive as possible.

The Future of Fair Online References

Of course, online reference checks are always evolving, so companies have to stay on top of best practices:

  • Use a blend of online and traditional (phone/email) reference methods
  • Train both references and recruiters on identifying and avoiding biases 
  • Work with vendors to ensure online platforms are designed to be accessible
  • Look at the full picture, not just reference data, when evaluating candidates
  • Continuously analyze data to catch and address any disparities

The main idea is to be aware of potential pitfalls around diversity but take advantage of the opportunities technology provides to build fair, inclusive hiring processes too.

Companies shouldn't ignore the benefits of online reference checks just because of some risks. But they DO need to be thoughtful and responsible about how they use that online reference data. They have to look at candidates as whole, unique individuals - not just words on a form.

Unlocking the Power of Diversity

With the right approach using a combination of tech tools AND human diligence around diversity, online reference checks can be leveraged in a positive way. They add another helpful dimension for learning about candidates and identifying top talent from all backgrounds. And leading companies are enhancing their hiring in this way to build richer, more inclusive teams that are set up for amazing success.

After all, when you bring together diverse employees with diverse perspectives, experiences, and skills, that's when you unlock the best ideas and innovations. Those varied viewpoints join together to move companies forward in incredible ways. 

So, if online reference checks are implemented responsibly and joined with other inclusive hiring efforts, they're a plus for diversity - not an obstacle. They shine light on the unique strengths that different candidates bring to the table. As long as companies keep diversity top of mind and use the right combination of people and tech processes, online reference checks can absolutely help hire diverse, high-performing teams.

No matter what hiring methods a company uses, the ultimate goal should be putting together talented crews full of different perspectives and backgrounds. That's what drives businesses to incredible new heights! And with modern tools like online reference checks utilized properly alongside robust diversity programs, that lofty goal becomes much more achievable.

The moral of the story? Online reference checks are a powerful resource when it comes to vetting applicants - but only if approached with a diversity-conscious mindset. Used wisely alongside other fair hiring practices, they illuminate the immense value that diverse candidates offer. With responsible implementation focused on equity and inclusion, these tech tools become potent allies for building winning teams rich in diverse talent.

Get the latest posts in your email.
Read about our privacy policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Read More From Our Blogs
Attracting Quality Candidates in 2024
Discover the secret to hiring superstars in 2024 with next-gen reference checking software. Say goodbye to hiring headaches, hello to an A-team!
How to Attract Top Talent in Competitive Industries
Discover how to hire top-notch employees in competitive markets using reference checking software and proven strategies from recruitment experts.
Ways to Reduce Recruitment Costs
Discover cost-effective ways to streamline your hiring process with reference checking software, ensuring you find the right fit without breaking the bank.