Diversity and inclusion are paramount in the workplace. They’re vital because they bring people together to foster creativity, better problem-solving, and a more resilient and adaptable workforce. However, one thing stands in the way of actual diverse hiring — bias.
As a recruiter, you may think your hiring process is fair and objective. Yet, unfortunately, forms of discrimination often still make their way into the world of recruitment.
While recruiters would like to believe that logical arguments inform their decision-making processes, an unconscious activity permeates the brain and affects your ability to judge and make decisions without bias. This skews results and hampers your selection of the best candidates.
Take the time to recognize and address your biases to help you hire a genuinely diverse team. Here’s how you can identify and fix inherent biases to ensure the recruitment process is as fair as possible.
How Bias Occurs in Recruitment
Bias takes many forms in recruitment. For example, racial discrimination leads to favoring candidates from certain racial or ethnic backgrounds over others. Gender bias results in preferring one gender over the other. Then there’s cultural bias, which arises due to assumptions about a candidate’s cultural background or nationality.
While bias is never the intention of recruiters, even the most experienced ones may unknowingly favor candidates with certain characteristics or values. For instance, some candidates may feel anxious during an interview, while others are quite comfortable. In this instance, a recruiter might favor a calm and collected person. Yet, the nervous candidate could be the best person for the job but were unable to showcase their talents.
Another form of bias is that against transgender individuals, and it happens quite often. In the United States alone, more than 2 million transgender people face employment and workplace inequities. This bias manifests as recruiters make assumptions about the candidate’s ability to fit within a team or perform a job based on gender identity.
With unconscious bias in the way, recruiters can make unfair and counterproductive hiring decisions. That’s because this tendency limits the diversity of thought, skills and experiences within a team, preventing an organization from reaching its full potential for growth.
It’s also a significant roadblock to creating an inclusive and equitable workplace. Plus, biases in recruitment can lead to legal repercussions that damage your company’s reputation. That’s why acknowledging proclivities and taking the steps necessary to mitigate them can set the stage for truly inclusive hiring.
How to Identify Your Own Biases
Addressing bias begins with the toughest task — self-awareness and introspection. Recognizing that bias exists is the first step. However, the true challenge lies in identifying it within yourself.
Biases operate under an unconscious radar, subtly influencing your choices and attitudes. So how do you uncover them? A practical approach is to use tools like Implicit Association Tests (IAT), which are available online. These tests help you identify unconscious biases by measuring your instinctive associates between different groups and attributes.
Another effective strategy is actively seeking feedback from colleagues. Their perspectives help you see any unintentional patterns in your decision-making. While it may be a challenge to seek constructive feedback from others, this method can provide you with a better understanding of your biases. Therefore, you give yourself the opportunity to take the first step in more equitable and effective recruitment.
Techniques to Address Bias
Once you’ve identified your own biases, there are several techniques you can use to ensure a more objective recruitment process:
- Blind recruitment: This is a method where personally identifiable information, such as name, gender or ethnicity, is removed from job applications. This approach allows recruiters to evaluate candidates based on their skills and qualifications alone. Implementing blind recruitment can be as simple as standardizing resumes to remove this information or using software that automates this for you.
- Structured interviews: These involve asking all candidates the same set of questions in the same order and rating their answers using a standardized scoring system. This method limits the impact of personal biases and ensures all candidates are assessed equally. To implement this method, develop a consistent list of job-related questions and clear, objective scoring criteria.
- Diversity and inclusion training: Training can enlighten recruiters about the various biases and their impact on recruitment. Effective training involves the use of real-world examples, hands-on activities and actionable strategies for change.
- Technology: Artificial intelligence (AI) recruitment tools can be helpful in scanning resumes, conducting initial interviews and shortlisting candidates based on objective parameters. Therefore, technology use can be an excellent way to minimize personal biases. However, it’s important to keep in mind that AI requires careful consideration, as it’s not immune to bias and may be trained on discriminatory data.
Close the Bias Gap in Recruitment
Addressing bias is of critical importance in recruitment. While biases are often unconscious, they can impede the selection process of suitable candidates, restrict diversity and decrease employee satisfaction rates.
Bias-free hiring should be the number one goal to make it a priority to build a resilient organization. A team selected without bias is a tapestry of numerous experiences, skills and perspectives. Consider implementing these tips to make the hiring process a truly level playing field.
Devin Partida is a business technology and talent recruitment writer. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of ReHack.com.
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