case study

Increasing diversity starts with recruitment: a DSB case study

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About DSB

DSB is owned by the Danish people. DSB has a board of directors and runs under contract with the state but is organized and operated as a commercial company. 

Every day, DSB’s approximately 7,200 employees make a dedicated effort to ensure a good travel experience for around 500,000 people – with 11,670 daily train departures from 298 stations. 

Read the case in Danish here.

The Challenge

In 2022, DSB faced a significant challenge: they needed more applicants, and they needed to attract more female applicants and younger candidates. 

“It’s important to understand why we focus on younger people. Because there’s a lot of talk about how difficult it is for seniors to return to work, and that’s not the case for us, we find it very easy to attract seniors and hire them, and we do!  

The problem is that DSB has a much higher average age than the rest of society. So we have to see if we can’t balance it a bit,” says Bibi Støvring Sørensen, Recruitment Partner IT, DSB.

DSB aims to be a workplace that reflects the Danish population, so they also work actively to create more gender balance. One goal is to move from 30% to 40% women in the workforce and management by 2030. Laila Madsen, Head of Recruitment DSB, added: “We’re already at 38% now.” 

The Solution

One of the key strategies at DSB to solve the challenges is a focus on eliminating bias from job ads to appeal to a broader and more diverse applicant pool. 

Here, Develop Diverse plays a significant role as the tool DSB uses to identify and replace words and phrases that can be perceived as exclusionary. Ann Marie Jakobsen, Vice President HR at DSB, explains to Danish Industry:

“We have partnered with Develop Diverse to help us write our job ads so that they are more inclusive and don’t discourage anyone. We try to remove all the words that might seem gendered, for example, or that might affect someone from a different ethnic background.” 

Three years ago, Laila Madsen, Head of Recruitment DSB, presented the new software to the company’s 350 leaders and highlighted Develop Diverse’s potential to expand the applicant pool and increase diversity. 

Today, the leaders can see that the applicant pool is bigger and broader. For example, the average number of applications in IT has increased by more than 30%.

Recruitment partner in IT, Bibi Sørensen, played an important role in the integration of Develop Diverse into DSB’s recruitment process. She was already aware of the influence the language in job ads had on candidate behavior and saw the potential of a language tool to attract more good applicants and a broader pool. 

The recruitment team started using Develop Diverse to review the language in the job postings to make the language more inclusive but also to create awareness of the use of language and highlight to others in the organization why some words and phrases are not good to use. 

“Based on your [Develop Diverse] data, you can see who we are potentially excluding by using the different words”

Bibi Sørensen, Recruitment Partner IT, DSB This also provides the recruitment team with good arguments to change the wording in job ads, especially if they’ve met resistance when removing words like “dynamic,” “strong” or “passionate.”

The Result

The implementation of Develop Diverse and other recruitment initiatives has had a significant impact on DSB’s recruitment results. From 2022 to 2023, the number of applications per job posting increased by 32%. The improvements in job ads, along with external campaigns and improved employer branding, led to a more diverse and extensive applicant pool. 

DSB also made significant progress towards their diversity goals. The share of women employees has increased from 30% to 38%, and the recruitment of younger employees is improving, creating more balance in the age range. 

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DSB saw a 32% increase in applications per job posting

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The share of women employee increased from 30% to 38% at DSB

The data-driven approach from Develop Diverse has created an understanding of the impact of specific words, leading to more inclusive job ads. Bibi Sørensen noted that the use of Develop Diverse and a greater focus on working with the text in the job ads has helped increase the number of qualified applicants and thus reduced the need to reach out to candidates via search, as more candidates could see themselves in roles when reading the job ads. 

Develop Diverse has become an integral part of DSB’s recruitment strategy and supports creating a more diverse workplace that reflects Danish society. 

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