In the modern business environment, diversity and inclusion play a key role. Organizations that need diversity of thought and a balance of voices need people from a variety of cultures and backgrounds. Improved financial performance, effective talent management, and increased innovation are some of the benefits of incorporating diversity in hiring and other critical business processes.
However, many businesses are still unable to understand the significance of having a healthy balance of different people. As a recruiter or business manager, you have to hire the best possible employees. But you can’t accomplish this goal with a biased and unfair hiring process. Racism, ageism, sexism, and other such elements must not determine whom we hire.
A diverse workforce is essential when the business goal is to survive and thrive well into the future. It’s not about targeting some magic demographic numbers. It’s about bringing in perspectives and viewpoints that align with the consumers’ demands.
It’s an established fact that everyone holds unconscious biases about certain social groups. Fortunately, your organization can take certain steps to remove recruitment bias and build a more diverse and progressive workforce. Before we dig deep and highlight those steps, let’s take a step back and define diversity and inclusion and enlist some common hiring biases:
Need For Diversity And Inclusion
The term diversity refers to the existence of different attributes in a group of people. It means acknowledging the fact that everyone is unique. The concept encompasses respect and acceptance. Our cognitive skills, race, physical abilities, socio-economic status, religious and political beliefs, and sexual orientation are some of the elements that make us unique.
Inclusion, on the other hand, is about developing a work environment where employees or job applicants aren’t treated based on their differences. Everyone is given equal access to opportunities and resources. Here is why how diversity and inclusion can improve your bottom line:
- A diverse workforce attracts top talent
- Diverse teams make better decisions
- Diversity is a key driver of innovation
- Inclusion leads to increased employee engagement and trust
- It becomes easier to produce stronger business results
- Diversity provides a range of skills
Some Important Stats
- Did you know 6 out of 10 companies have metrics in place to monitor the success of their diversity and inclusion initiatives?
- Inclusive teams outperform their peers by 80% in team-based assessments.
- Companies with diverse management teams had a 19 percent increase in revenue compared to their less diverse counterparts.
These stats and dozens of other studies reveal that companies that welcome diversity and inclusion in all business aspects outperform their peers. However, hiring biases prevent us from building a diverse and inclusive environment.
Common Types of Hiring Biases
The following are 3 common types of unconscious biases that could negatively impact your talent acquisition efforts:
It’s easy to work with those who are not different. The very tendency to favour people based on their race, age, gender, etc. is called affinity bias.
Confirmation bias impacts a selection process when recruiters pay greater attention to details that confirm existing norms or beliefs.
Conformity bias occurs when our views are swayed by others. It happens due to our tendency to seek acceptance from others. We want to go with commonly hold opinions and views. So, when a group of people shares an opinion about something, individuals associated with that group usually decide to agree with them.
How to Remove Biases Hiring Process
Unconscious biases seriously impact our judgment. It unconsciously leads us to make decisions in favor of or against a person or a group of people. If left unchecked, biases shape a company’s culture.
HR managers and teams have to learn how to de-bias hiring procedures and processes. They have to ensure that certain groups of people or individuals are not favored over others during the hiring process. The following are some proven strategies that will help you remove hiring biases and move towards a positive company culture:
Accept Your Biases
Unconscious biases are everywhere. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a recruiter, you have biases that may impact your professional decisions. For example, affinity bias is a common example of how we establish favorable opinions of people that are like us.
So far as hiring is concerned, biases drive recruiters to select candidates that are like them in terms of gender, race, language, etc. For instance, you might end up hiring a candidate who went to the same school or looks like you.
So, the first step is to acknowledge the presence of biases. And then you can seek out resources such as books or articles from underrepresented communities. It will help you uncover biases you or your team bring to hiring decisions. In other words, you need to recognize and call out bias in the hiring process.
Awareness training enables managers and employees to accept that everyone possesses biases and that there is a need to identify them and learn how they operate or where do they show up in decision making. Engaging in healthy debates with people of different backgrounds or ideologies can also produce positive results.
Redesign Job Descriptions
While we all know the importance of a good job description, you need to rework job descriptions and pay attention to small details. For example, the words you use in job descriptions can have an impact on potential applicants.
Research finds out that adjectives like “determined” or “aggressive” can make women think they wouldn’t be a good fit. Words like “cooperative” or “collaborative” are likely to draw more women than men. You can stop using these words or replace them with more inclusive vocabulary. Keep track of how the use of these words affects your pool.
It’s a good practice to use a job description analysis tool to highlight gendered language to make it more inclusive. It’s not just the job description, you have to infuse inclusiveness throughout your communication, both externally and internally.
Be Active Against Discrimination
Building employees’ trust and ensuring psychological safety can be a good start to combat discrimination and bias. Unconscious bias training programs, affinity groups, and work-family accommodation policies are some of the notable initiatives in this regard. Unfortunately, these tactics often fail to produce a sustained change.
Business leaders shape the organization’s culture with their behaviors and mindset. Without leaders being willing to undergo the shift of heart and mind, it’s hard to break the shackle of discriminatory practices. Therefore, leaders have to take the first step and then translate that change into lasting change.
As a leader, you can start with learning how systems of oppression and privilege work in the broader culture. You can find numerous books and other resources to understand systematic racism and other factors that encourage biased business processes.
Consider Blind Recruitment
Recruiters must focus on candidates’ specific talents and qualifications rather than characteristics or demographics (gender, age, color, etc.). One of the best strategies to remove hiring bias is to implement an effective applicant tracking system that could blind the process for evaluating resumes. This can make it easy for you to find great talent.
A blind hiring process strips away identifiable characteristics from a resume that have nothing to do with the job, skills, or experience needed for success. Blind hiring is popular among companies that are working hard to increase diversity in their hiring process.
If we go back to the 1970s, we’ll find out that symphony orchestras were mostly made up of white men. To remove biases from the selection process, orchestras started to hold auditions behind the curtain. Now. musicians could only make decisions based on musicians’ performances. Resultantly, judges hired 45% more women. Your organization needs to use the same kind of blinds to combat hiring bias.
HR professionals have to go through hundreds of resumes to pick the right candidate. The human brain can’t process too much information efficiently, so it encourages us to take shortcuts and make decisions quickly. When you make gut decisions, it becomes impossible to remove unconscious bias from the process.
An undesired location of an applicant, the college name, or an email address containing unconventional names can turn off the recruiter. HR professionals are likely to make safe decisions and select candidates that share common values. Such an approach promotes unconscious bias.
The use of smart HR tools can solve this problem to some extent. These tools don’t make decisions based on perceptions or assumptions. Instead, they use data and AI capabilities to generate results.
So, if you think unconscious biases are affecting your overall recruiting performance, it’s time to use technology and innovation. Platforms like wiggli can be of great help in this regard.
Conduct Structured Interviews
Hiring managers often like to get a sense of an applicant through structured interviews, which allows them to ask random questions. And that makes sense as their job is to get to know the candidate. On the dark side, dozens of studies show that unstructured interviews are the worst predictors of actual on-the-job performance.
Unstructured interviews are popular for two reasons. First, managers don’t like to adopt a more structured approach that might outsource judgment to a computer program. Second, managers are overconfident about their experience or expertise.
It’s advisable to compare candidate responses horizontally. For example, if you’re going to interview 10 candidates, evaluate each of their answers on question one, and then on question two, and so on. Some of the leading tech giants such as Google go with structured interviews. They use data to identify questions that are closely related to on-the-job success.
Don’t let unconscious bias sabotage your efforts at finding and hiring the best candidates. Use these strategies to encounter prevailing hiring biases. Leverage technology to help minimize bias in the hiring process. It would be your first step to create a truly diverse and inclusive workplace.