Removing implicit bias in recruitment marketing

Oct 10, 2022 | Attraction & marketing

Implicit bias exists in student recruitment marketing. SFS Media offers an example and how it can be addressed.

I see myself as someone who lives for inclusion. I think we all do. That is where implicit bias creeps in as we build on the assumptions of our experience that silently exclude others that have had a difference experience.

As recruitment marketeers, we do our best to run market research and test creative, but it can be thrown out the window at the peril of the last minute deadline.

  • How do we build out a process to challenge our implicit biases?
  • Can we afford to exclude anyone with such challenging competition in the market?
  • How do we ensure we take the time to ensure our creative campaigns are inclusive?

We will be talking about some of these recruitment-marketing challenges in our session at ISE’s EDI Conference in November.

The implicit bias trap

In my view, too many of us, me included, have fallen into the trap of thinking that imagery of a diverse group of smiling young people, with multiple ethnicities, gender identities and body types is enough. With recent analysis from our team, it absolutely isn’t. As a community of marketeers, we must do better.

A recent case study

A client of ours sent out an email campaign with a creative that passed all of our quality checks and in truth, was fairly standard.

We waived it out the door to our youth audience and were happy to see a 2.82% CTR after the first 24 hours from the targeted segment the client sought.

The client was delighted and like many marketeers, then immediately had 67 other things to do and so it falls out of the mind quickly. However, as we prepared the seven-day detailed report for the client, breaking down the campaign performance by ethnicity and gender spoke volumes.

I have included a sample of just one of the report pages, looking at gender identity and ethnicity group click through rates.

As you can see, there was some distance between Asian ethnic group females at 1.26% CTR and White ethnic group males at 3.52% CTR.

Beyond that it showed that 89 of the young people reached have special education needs and disabilities, and none of them engaged.

Across low socio-economic communities they had high engagement but were a small percentage as the client unconsciously focused on affluent areas that returned low engagement.

It really was a pivotal read for me as I saw communities excluded while both the client and our team were unaware.

A implicit bias solution

SFS Media applies a continual process of consistently measuring our own creative to challenge our unconscious bias. That’s it. The only way. Keep alert to the quiet assumptions we make in our busyness and let the data lead us as the measure of young people voting with their engagement.

We are taking this new process and we encourage you too. As standard in our service, we are providing a dozen pages of analysis after every single campaign. This rich reporting analyses how  creative landed with young people by geography, gender, ethnicity group, socio-economic indicators and special educational need and disability. This insight can be used to refine strategies and increase inclusion.

We are taking this step because diversity is one of our five values. All our profits are gifted back to the Speakers for Schools charity to level the playing field for the next generation, it’s at our core to do what we can to increase inclusion for this generation. So, if you would like to measure your unconscious bias in your recruitment marketing, we can help you unlock the insights that will help make us all more inclusive, one campaign at a time.

You can hear more from SFS Media about implicit bias at ISE’s EDI Conference, taking place Tuesday 15 November 2022

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