Look at the photos on your company‚Äôs ‚ÄúAbout Us‚Äù page. Notice anything? I‚Äôll give you a hint: Does everyone look similar or are there unique differences from one team photo to another? If your company is like many others, there will be more similarities than differences. One reason for this common issue is unconscious bias.
What is unconscious bias and why should I worry about it?
Biases can simply be defined as stereotypes about people that all of us form without even realizing it. These stereotypes are usually developed from our cultural experiences, which can affect our thoughts, feelings, and actions. This doesn‚Äôt make us terrible people, it merely shows that we are human. Even those of us with the best intentions have biases.
Why is this important? Multiple studies have shown that bias can have a significant effect on hiring decisions. Statistically, women have a harder time getting interviews than their male counterparts. Even people with ethnic-sounding names or candidates who wear clothing that represents a religion or a particular belief system have a harder time scoring the roles they want.
Not to mention the many studies that demonstrate companies who focus on increasing diversity experience higher performance. In a study by McKinsey, gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their non-gender-diverse counterparts. Ethnically diverse companies fare even better ‚Äì they are 35% more likely to outperform other companies. And let‚Äôs be honest ‚Äì what company doesn‚Äôt want to make more money?
Five Low-Tech, Low-Cost Tips to Reduce Hiring Bias
- Meet top candidates where they are, not where you expect them to be
Most recruiters have a sourcing ‚Äúcomfort zone,‚Äù and they rarely stray from this area. Guess what happens when you post on the same sites every time? You get the same sample of people responding for every job.
Try posting on a new job site. Attend job fairs at different schools where you have fewer connections to shake up your pipeline and recruit quality candidates. Find out where the talent you are seeking hangs out and go there. You might be surprised by who you find and what they can bring to the table.
- ‚ÄúWorking together is success.‚Äù ‚ÄìHenry Ford
We all know the phrase there‚Äôs power in numbers and that‚Äôs just as true in hiring. When we involve others in the interview process, hiring bias is reduced. Put together interview groups made up of the diverse bright minds on your team to meet with candidates. Debrief with the group after the interview to get all of the different angles and observations that everyone experienced. Remember ‚Äì this practice will only be successful if everyone is allowed to share their input and discuss any differences in perception.
- Consistency is key!
Use a structured approach with standardized interview guides built on the competencies required to be successful in the role. Each interviewer gets an interview guide with behavioral questions that they will ask, reducing the chance that a biased question will rear its unwelcome head. Not only does this strategy reduce the risk of hiring bias, but it also ensures that the interviewer is prepared with great questions that will encourage the best answers from your candidate.
- ‚ÄúMy worst enemy is my memory.‚Äù -Anonymous
Don‚Äôt rely on your memory! Set the expectations at the beginning of the interview that you will take notes. Ask everyone in your interview group to refer to these notes during the interview debrief. You‚Äôll be surprised by how much more value there is in the conversation when everyone isn‚Äôt fighting to speak before they forget their main points!
- Edit‚Ä¶ or regret it!
Job descriptions and job posting ads are filled with biased language. We might be turning off great candidates to our opportunities all because of a few words in our ads. Review and rewrite these key recruitment marketing elements to reduce that discriminatory language. Software programs such as Textio can help, but a low-cost alternative is to have a diverse group read and offer feedback on your posts to ensure that there are no hints of bias.
Even if we don‚Äôt want to admit it, we all have biases that can affect hiring decisions. We can say that we won‚Äôt bring our biases into the decision, but it takes more than the intention to overcome them ‚Äì it takes action. Consciously practice these guidelines during your hiring process, and you‚Äôll effectively secure the best candidate for the job.