"We ensure that our vacancies are equally interesting for women and men"
Mark Baas is project leader recruitment and selection of the Erasmus University Rotterdam. One of his tasks is professionalizing recruitment procedures, and keeping them free from all forms of (unconscious) discrimination.
What is your position?
"I started on 1 September within HR on the topic of recruitment and selection. My task is threefold. I will professionalize the recruitment procedures, and make sure they run in the same way at different faculties. One of the things that becomes more important is bias free recruiting. Every recruitment procedure starts with a vacancy text. Research shows that some words are interpreted as masculine or feminine. Female candidates are less likely to respond to masculine words such as 'competition' or 'ambitious'. How can we write vacancy texts in such a way that they are equally interesting for women and men? We also want to make sure that every candidate is asked the same questions in an interview. Of course, we also pay attention to questions we are not allowed to ask- it is forbidden by law for example to ask a woman whether she is planning to become pregnant".
How do you support the bias free process further?
"Katarina Putnik of the Diversity Office has created a toolkit for diverse and inclusive recruitment. One of the tips in this toolkit is that we have to make sure that the team of interviewers is diverse. I have spoken to all faculties, and everyone seems willing to work on it, because in this way we can ensure that we select the best people.
We are also going to purchase a digital environment in which it will be easier to compare applications and CVs. And there will be more attention for employer branding: what is the image of the EUR and how do we ensure that the influx of good candidates continues".
And, how does the EUR want to be known?
"The strategy is our guideline. Societal impact, sustainability and excellent education are important. In addition, this university is a very nice, inspiring environment. I studied here myself, so I already knew the organization. I like the fact that through my work I can contribute to scientific research and thus contribute to positive impact in the world".
Is the recruitment and selection process going differently in this day and age?
"Most vacancies are filled without too many problems. In the conversations I have had, I have not encountered any major 'corona problems'. For some vacancies, there are now even more applicants, especially from abroad. The interviews are mainly digital, which is of course different. Part of the charm of working for the university, of course, is the liveliness on campus with all the students and staff. It's a pity that that has gone away, but that is what everyone has to deal with”.
In what way do you contribute in this job to combating work pressure?
"We also hope to contribute to reducing work pressure by further professionalizing our services. For example: I recently spoke to a faculty member who had received more than 300 responses for an open PhD vacancy. This colleague then had to manually place and review the candidates in an Excel file. With the digital environment that we are going to acquire, we hope to be able to avoid this kind of manual work in the future".