How to overcome bias in your hiring strategy

Date posted: August 11, 2021 | 9:53 am
  • Hiring |
  • Levelling up / hire better

Innovative and profitable businesses all have one thing in common: a diverse workforce.

Hiring professionals from a range of backgrounds, genders, races, and sexualities, generates a more diverse and complete skill set throughout the team. In bringing these skills to the heart of the business, the depth of conversation and variety of solutions produced, naturally increases with the wealth of diverse opinions at hand.

Globalisation of business is reflected in the increased diversity of their customer / consumer / client base, highlighting the importance of matching this with workforce diversity.. Ultimately, according to McKinsy ‘The most diverse companies are now more likely than ever to outperform less diverse peers on profitability’.

How can we hire diversely?

Hiring a diverse team is about removing bias, focusing on an individual’s ability to do the job regardless of race, gender, or educational background.

However, this is no easy feat! Unconscious bias is wrought throughout hiring, and is often described as prejudice or unsupported judgement, for or against someone being hired. This is a natural automatic reaction, caused by the brain referencing previous experiences; the unconscious factor makes this a difficult issue to resolve.

So, how can this be changed?

We must understand where the bias is, and then begin to change this. From training to new recruitment practices, it’s important that we think critically to shake up the system.

Start with measuring your diversity. Each company has its own way of measuring current levels of diversity, this can be done through your HR system or, anonymous surveys are always good too!

Then… look forward. Where do you want to be in a year? 2 years? It may be hard to go from zero to hero within 6 months unless you’re planning on hiring on a mass level, so set yourself where you want to be and know the steps you’ll need to get there.

So, how can we reach our targets?

Train train train…
Train your team to understand what unconscious bias is and what they may be drawn to in CVs. Common bias can be around geographies, education, gender or affinity. For example, stereotypes of where someone lives, or the fact that you recognise where they may have studied may mean that you are more drawn to a CV. Remember, this isn’t a character flaw, but it is an unconscious way that bias enters our lives.

Objectivity is the key.
Job openings should have clear and objective duties, and always be defined before you start hiring. Otherwise, you have the pitfall of positions being adjusted during the hiring process to fit candidates.

Create a diverse interview panel.
At Intel the diversity of more women and people of colour being hired increased from 31% to 45% when the interview panels included at least 2 people from different backgrounds, races or genders. Also, this means interviewees will feel represented within your company.

Neutral language is key in job descriptions.
Any language that is more masculine (such as strong, competitive, and driven) should be avoided. Although women are still strong, competitive, and driven, there is data to prove that they are less likely to apply for jobs that contain masculine words such as these. Instead chose more neutral words like exceptional, comparative, and motivated.

And finally, create a standardised process for all of your applicants.
Make sure you treat each candidate equally, and you can do this by making sure that everyone has to go through the same process for each role which reduces improvisation which could favour certain groups of people over others.

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