Despite the best intentions of hiring managers, unconscious bias still exists in the recruitment process. A recent Harvard study found employers routinely favored applicants from higher socioeconomic status households and that firms in STEM fields rated minority and female candidates lower than white males.
These results are rather shocking but echo an infamous 2004 study that found clear evidence of racism and prejudice in the hiring process.
Nonetheless, recruiters and hiring managers have worked hard to combat bias. But what more can be done to ensure that your company isn’t affected by bias in the hiring process?
Utilize AI Technology
When you’re skimming through a vast net of applications, it can be almost impossible to give every application the attention it is due. Your assessment might even be affected by your mood or how busy you happen to be on that particular day. This makes it all but impossible to remove unconscious bias while reviewing applications and heightens the need for automation.
AI technology can give hiring managers a head start in the review process. It can also ensure that your diversity and inclusion initiatives aren’t accidentally undermined. This is because AI programs are proven to follow ethical, objective assessments that reduce bias and ensure that all candidates are assessed on the relevancy of their materials.
Knowing that unconscious bias exists is one thing, doing something about it is entirely different. As a hiring manager, you must actively seek to combat industry biases when hiring and should intentionally translate positive intent into actions and results.
Here are a few ways you can be intentional about addressing bias during your next hiring phase:
Set Diversity Targets
Your hiring and recruitment team must intentionally seek diverse candidates who are traditionally underrepresented in a particular role within your company. You can do this by viewing your competitor’s hiring data, to see where exactly you are lagging.
Advertise in New Venues
Not all candidates use the same job boards. You may unwittingly be missing out on attracting diverse talent simply because they aren’t aware of your opening. To overcome this, you should research job boards that promote diversity and should consider attending new kinds of career fairs that help employers overcome bias in the hiring process.
The standards that hiring managers held ten years ago are outdated and often harm diversity and inclusion efforts. To overcome this, you must understand that candidates are choosing to present themselves and their identity in different ways, as gender-fluid fashion is helping folks become more accepting of themselves and their identity.
As a hiring manager, you should always strive to better yourself and your understanding of people. As such, you can dive into learning about diversity in recruitment by learning from experts and can start to read or listen to social thinkers and authors like Judith Butler, Ibram X Kendi and Robert Mcruer.
Recruiters and hiring managers often forget that DEI in the hiring process is about more than “looking good,” it also ensures you attract the best talent to your business. However, to ensure that you don’t put off the best candidates from applying to your company, you must become aware of microaggressions and how to avoid them.
Of course, you should always respect the candidates that walk through your door. But microaggressions usually occur when you act on stereotypes that stem from unconscious beliefs about a person’s race, gender, disability or sexuality. To avoid microaggressions, work towards a universal set of questions and should think twice before making any assumptions about an applicant’s personality or ability based on their identity.
Take a Standardized Approach
You want to give yourself the best chance of accurately assessing candidates based on their ability rather than irrelevant areas of their identity or application materials. To do this, you should take a standardized approach to your materials and assessments.
The easiest way to achieve this is to use a blind assessment. This means that you will remove all identifiers from a candidate’s materials and will only use a pre-formatted CV that allows you to focus on an applicant’s relevant skills and experience.
You should also change the way you advertise for a role, as gendered or unnecessarily exclusive language will put off applicants who would otherwise do well in their role. To do this, you must review application materials and look out for unnecessary language that might seem like “fluff” or puts candidates off.
Finally, be sure to structure and standardize your interviews long before an applicant walks through your door. This will ensure that unconscious biases won’t affect the interview and will help you intentionally direct the conversation towards the applicant’s abilities and experience, rather than their identity.
Reducing bias in the hiring process is all about educating yourself and making intentional efforts to combat unconscious bias. You can do this by standardizing your interview questions. Partake in diversity targets which will make it clear that your company has a clear commitment to improving diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.
Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest. She is interested in better living through technology and education. She loves traveling to beautiful places and is frequently lost in a mystery podcast.
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