Hiring Bias

Diversity in the workplace has consistently proven to be beneficial to businesses. Many of the biggest corporations in the United States have first or second-generation immigrants at the helm. As businesses face new and unique challenges every day, having a team of people with different backgrounds means that each person’s approach to the problem is different. This often results in much-needed innovation that creates solutions to modern-day business problems.

Diversity in the workplace has long been a beneficial aspect of the American industry. According to research by research by McKinsey, businesses with diverse teams comprised of different races and ethnicities perform better than those with a homogenous staff. The study also found that among senior executives, for every 10% increase in gender diversity there is a 0.8% increase in earnings. In the UK, the same increase in gender diversity increases earnings by 3.5%. The best way to promote workplace diversity is to eliminate hiring bias.

What is Hiring Bias?

Hiring bias refers to the unconscious biases that take hold based on the first impression of a candidate. It can also refer to preference for one candidate over another on the basis of possessing qualities that a recruiter likes. Many professionals aren’t consciously aware of these unconscious leanings and tendencies.

However, if left unchecked, these silent biases can make the hiring process clumsy and unfair. Biased hiring can result in homogenized teams, which tends to group people with similar backgrounds and thought processes together. Overly homogenized teams place modern businesses at a significant disadvantage.

It is important to eliminate as much unconscious bias from the recruiting process as possible. You can do this by:

  1. Restrict Adjective Use in Job Descriptions and Advertisements
  2. Recruiters Should Judge Candidates without Ancillary Information
  3. Panel-Based Video Interviews Keep Biases in Check
  4. Making Use of Technology in the Hiring Process
  5. Working With a Professional Staffing Agency

Read on for a closer look at how these steps can help eliminate bias from the hiring process, and ultimately, the workplace.

Restrict Adjective Use in Job Descriptions and Advertisements

Consider the job descriptions you publish on your careers page or on job forums. Do they contain too many restrictive adjectives? Adjectives can contribute to subtle gender or age bias in hiring, and can limit the candidate pool you have access to. For example, words like “energetic” can imply you are looking for younger candidates. “Dominant” is a masculine adjective, whereas “passionate” is often considered feminine. Whether or not conscious bias permeates the job description, it will still place a limit on the type of candidates that will apply for that position. To eliminate biased hiring, it is a good idea to restrict the use of adjectives in job descriptions.

Recruiters Should Judge Candidates without Ancillary Information

Names matter more than people are willing to admit. Sometimes names can trigger unconscious biases or preconceived notions in your recruiters. Moreover, personal details like a candidate’s hometown, school, or university can also cause bias to arise in the hiring process. In an ideal world, the recruiter should judge candidates on their skills, experience, and aptitude. But unfortunately, ancillary information can often pique unconscious bias in a recruiter’s mind.

As an example, a recruiter may prefer candidate A over candidate B because candidate A attended the same school as the recruiter. The possible scenarios can be endless. But the solution to this is quite simple. In an effort to eliminate bias in college applications, in 2015 the UK government made UCAS erase names from applications before considering them. The same can be done in the hiring process. By removing ancillary information such as names, age, gender, geographic names, and schools, much of the bias that arises can be nullified in your hiring strategies.

Panel-Based Video Interviews Keep Biases in Check

Video interviews are not new to the recruiting process. They have been in use for many years, and now even more so, as technology has improved considerably. As counterintuitive as it may sound, video interviews can actually reduce hiring bias if conducted in a panel format.

Let’s say your mortgage recruiters want to hire a new loan officer. A video interview would undo the anonymity we emphasized in the point above. At the same time, however, it helps keep individual biases in check when there is a group of people conducting the interview. As there is more transparency to the process, unconscious biases don’t come into play with as much frequency, especially if the panel itself consists of individuals from diverse backgrounds.

Making Use of Technology in the Hiring Process

There are many ways technology already helps improve the hiring process. From video calls to applicant tracking systems to talent intelligence software, technology offers many tools to a recruiter. One way to eliminate bias in recruitment is to make use of AI applications. These applications sort through candidates and applications to suggest the best matches to the recruiter.

But they do so with no AI hiring bias towards age, gender, race, ethnicity, or background. In fact, AI is one of the best ways to ensure unbiased recruiting. Of course, the AI is only as good as the data it is trained on, so human recruiters will always be needed for input. It is undoubtedly an effective measure to counter workplace homogenization, however.

Working With a Professional Staffing Agency

Professional staffing and recruitment agencies specialize in delivering the best candidate for the job, regardless of their background, ethnicity, gender, or race. One reason for this is that professional staffing agencies have access to very large and very diverse talent pools. This allows them to quickly meet open positions(in IT staffing, for instance) without prejudice to candidates, qualifying them on skills and experience exclusively.

Staffing firms have reputations to maintain; that includes supplying client businesses with talent that can add value to the workplace. In that respect, they effectively weigh the qualifications, skills, and career goals of each of their prospective candidates.

Moreover, many recruiters specialize in specific niches. For example, manufacturing recruiters have access to large talent pools of individuals with experience in manufacturing. This allows them to understand trends in the candidate market as well as in the industry, letting them deliver only the most suitable candidate for a job. Ultimately, the candidate or list of candidates that you conduct interviews with will only be there based on their ability. Transparency ensures staffing firms have no racial, ethnic, or gender bias in their recruiting process.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to avoid bias in hiring?

There are several ways to reduce hiring bias including the language used in job descriptions. See more here.

How to reduce bias in the hiring process?

There are 5 proven ways to eliminate bias in the hiring process. See more here.

What is hiring bias?

It is the unconscious or conscious personal feelings that a recruiter might have. Find out more here

How to avoid unconscious bias in recruiting candidates?

Unconscious bias is harder to eliminate and requires the use of technology and panels. Check out more here

How to reduce bias in the workplace?

Reducing bias in the workplace depends on recruiters hiring non-homogenized teams. Explore more here.

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