Diversity is not only our strength in public life but also in our professional lives. A diverse workforce brings multiple perspectives and skillsets to the table, which is good for business.
Unfortunately, far too many organizations fall prey to subtle but powerful biases in their hiring process. That means both candidates and organizations lose out on valuable opportunities.
But there are ways to counter the issue of recruitment bias and create a win-win situation for all parties — so let’s have a look at them.
Read on to discover…
- What unconscious bias is
- How it negatively impacts your organization
- Some unconscious bias recruitment statistics
- How to reduce bias in the hiring process
At the end of it, you’ll be fully equipped to engage in unbiased hiring for your organization.
What Is Unconscious Bias?
We all have preferences and prejudices that we’re not aware of and that influences how we make our decisions and how we treat others around us.
Also known as unconscious bias, it can affect every aspect of a business or organization, and it’s particularly detrimental to the process of hiring new employees.
What Are the Consequences of Biased Recruitment Practices?
The groups that suffer the most from the negative consequences of unconscious bias in the hiring process are women and ethnic, sexual, and religious minorities.
Don’t believe it? Let’s look at the science.
One study found that certain groups have to send twice as many job applications as other candidates, which increases the time and effort they have to put in just to land a job interview.
Conversely, another study showed how a blind hiring process can help prevent that scenario by leveling the playing field for all job applicants regardless of minority status.
Although individual studies can be biased in and of themselves, rigorous meta-analyses of multiple studies on workplace bias have also indicated that male applicants get preferential treatment in the hiring process.
Why It’s So Important to Resolve
It’s not only the job applicants and existing employees that personally suffer from biased recruitment and management practices — the businesses themselves suffer as well.
A McKinsey report on diversity and financial performance showed that companies with a diverse workforce are over 20% more likely to see above-average profits. The report also indicated that there’s a direct correlation between the level of diversity and the growth in sales revenue.
Discrimination doesn’t only affect revenue. Businesses that fail to meet the standards of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are also at risk of being sued. And that can be a costly affair, as the EEOC has collected over $21 million in damages since October 2018.
In other words, a biased hiring process is a spanner in the works.
Businesses not only have a moral obligation to reduce recruitment bias but here is also a significant financial incentive for them to do so.
10 Ways to Improve Your Hiring Process
Although bias can seem impossible to get rid of entirely, there are a number of ways you can reduce it to almost nothing.
Let’s look at how you can use them to improve your hiring process by optimizing each of the four recruitment phases.
Stage 1 – Sourcing
1. Specific job descriptions
The language used in job descriptions can influence who applies for the job. Avoid using gendered language where possible, and try using a mix of male- and female-gendered words.
Tip: Use this list of gendered words provided by Totaljobs to help you out.
2. External agencies
An external agency can not only add knowledge and experience to the process but also help alleviate internal bias. You still get the final say on who you hire, but with added expertise.
Tip: Have a look at the best recruitment agencies to see if you could benefit from their services.
3. Recruitment software
Comprehensive recruitment software apps can not only help you find suitable candidates, but they can also track the application process and provide you with hiring data you can analyze.
Tip: Use a recruitment CRM like Beamery and applicant tracking system like greenhouse to help you market your brand to candidates and track the hiring process.
Stage 2 – Screening
4. Blind recruitment
Blind recruitment is the practice of obscuring the candidate’s name, gender, age, appearance, and other details in order to prevent personal biases from influencing the hiring decision.
Tip: Use this guide on blind recruitment to help you streamline the process.
5. Candidate talent assessment
A talent assessment can not only help you determine whether a candidate’s cognitive skills are a good match for the role you’re looking to fill but also tell you if their personality traits are a good cultural fit for your business. Certain platforms can even help you simplify the hiring process by eliminating the need to review the resume as they offer candidate ranking based on their match for the position.
Tip: There are a number of assessment software applications available for this exact purpose.
Stage 3 – Interviewing
6. Trained hiring managers
Knowledge is power when it comes to recruitment practices, so make sure that your hiring managers are provided adequate awareness training to reduce the impact of their biases.
Tip: There are a number of unconscious bias training courses you can incorporate.
7. Diverse interview panels
A panel of interviewers can seem intimidating, but it can also help level out individual biases. Someone from a different department could act as a disinterested party during the interview.
Tip: See how Google hires new people and learn from one of the biggest companies.
8. Structured interview questions
It can be tempting to go with the flow during an interview, but unstructured questions create an imbalance where each candidate is treated differently and doesn’t have the same chances. Structured interviews have been proven to help eliminate bias from the process. Platforms like Bryq go a step further in enabling you to conduct structured interviews by providing you with sample interview questions based on your candidate’s profile for the role, ensuring that the process is structured.
Tip: See how structured interview questions benefit both employers and candidates.
Stage 4 – Hiring
9. Standardized hiring process
Make sure that you shortlist all candidates using the same methods. Nepotism can easily creep in if you already have an internal candidate in mind while searching for others externally.
Tip: Read more about how to standardize the hiring process in three easy steps.
10. Set diversity targets
One way to ensure diversity in your workforce is to set clear goals for the kind of employees you want. Just make sure that you prioritize competence and merit when making your decisions.
Tip: Here is a guide on how to set diversity targets with examples from blue-chip companies.
Polish up your hiring process
You now have all the tools you need to improve your hiring process and eliminate recruitment bias from the equation.
Here’s to a more diverse and successful workforce!