What does equity really mean in the context of a competitive assessment and selection process?

Equity is supposed to mean “fair”. However, deciding what is “fair” is rarely self-evident.

When I’ve asked this question (above), I’m shown one of the many versions of the same image we’ve all seen (the children watching a baseball game behind a fence). This image seems well suited for describing equitable (fair) access to open, public events and services, but it loses its utility when applied to a competitive assessment and selection process (the players in the game went through a competitive assessment and selection process to be able to play in their respective roles, the crowd didn’t).

What does equity look like in the context of a competitive assessment and selection process?

One of the things that I’ve seen companies do is to offer up a pre-interview coaching session for candidates (that usually comes with a document of tips on how to prepare for an interview). It’s offered to all candidates coming on-site.

In the pre-interview coaching session + document, the recruiter is going to give tips like: be prepared to ask your interviewers thoughtful questions, feel free to check out their LinkedIn profiles of people you’re interviewing, our dress code is [xyz], the team is excited to evaluate your strength in [xyz] areas, try to arrive a few minutes early, etc.

When I first saw this practice, my thought went to: “well this is incredibly basic! is this a good use of time?” But then I realized that I received interview training in high school and college. For folks that don’t have that privilege, these tips would be a game-changer and probably calm the nerves a bit.

I think that’s an equitable practice that, if a company cares about getting first-gen college students and lower SES candidates, they should employ.

The other obvious one to me is to make sure you offer reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities (and to not penalize people that ask for them). For example, a person with disabilities might need a longer bathroom break during the interview process.