Lauren Peacock – 7 September 2021

The class of 2021 have had a difficult year and will be finishing college and university apprehensive about the future. Young people, like many of us, have had much to contend with through the pandemic – struggling to study in busy homes and lacking opportunities for work experience in a locked down economy. Fortunately, there’s growing acknowledgement of new ways of working, and people are taking different routes to get where they want to be. Importantly, with an increasing focus on diversity, there’s an understanding that we need to do things differently.

Top-quartile companies for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians[1]. Yet one study[2] found that 25% of black candidates received call-backs when they “whitened” their CV by changing their name and removing references to activities that might reveal their heritage. Companies need to play their part in having a positive impact on tackling the issues with progressive hiring practices.

For many companies, including those in the pension industry, the initial hiring freezes have eased and there are roles to be filled. NextGen’s research suggests that the first step in recruitment – CV sifting – should be approached with caution given that hiring managers are at risk of sifting with biases, for example:

●      Demographic similarity between recruiters and candidates influence how much a recruiter ‘likes’ a candidate, especially where the job is seen as desirable.[1]

●      Candidates with unusual or otherwise unfamiliar names to recruiters have a lower likelihood of being hired.[2]

●      Even innocent coincidences, such as where candidates share first names with recruiters, lead recruiters to perceive similar candidates more favourably.[3]

Humans have a propensity to ‘thin-slice’ – relying on snippets of behaviour – such as body language, speech and gestures, to judge another person’s personality traits. Hiring managers should be careful to reduce any risk that this will happen. Even in written communication; language selection can be more of a ‘tip off’ for recruiters to demographic factors than we might anticipate. It’s more important than ever with young people spending the majority of the last couple of years at home. I for one have felt like I’ve lost a bit of pizzazz over the last few months – many young people haven’t had opportunities to build their communication and networking skills at all!

NextGen’s report on Recruiting for Diversity has a host of tips throughout the recruitment process to support companies. It is by no means a one size fits all issue, but we hope it might give employers ideas about how to think a bit more openly about hiring, especially for the pensions industry.

[1] The Irony of Choice in Recruitment: When Similarity Turns Recruiters to Other Candidates |

[2] Cotton et al. (2008).

[3] Howard and Kerin (2011)



Ethnic woman smiling whilst holding her neck and looking over her shoulder


Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash