Despite our best intentions, unconscious biases often play a factor in the hiring process. The problem is rampant; multiple studies have concluded that bias and discrimination regularly contribute to unfair hiring practices throughout the U.S. Recognizing how common this is, and taking steps to prevent biases in your practice, will help diversify your talent and ensure all qualified candidates have an equal chance of being hired.
The Importance of a Diverse Workforce
While biases are largely unintentional, there is no denying they occur. The effects they have on an organization are far-reaching. Not only do they limit diversity in the workforce, they can negatively affect recruitment, promotion, and retention efforts. Worse still, the decisions you make today can have a profound and long-lasting effect on your company’s culture for many years to come. However antiquated society’s beliefs may be in the modern age, the fact is, many still view men as executives and leaders and see women as administrative assistants. Breaking free of these built-in biases is crucial for managers hoping to develop a well-rounded team of employees.
Strategies for Overcoming Bias
Employing the following strategies can help reduce bias in the workplace.
- Offer training to assist in understanding prejudices. Managers should look for training opportunities to help reshape biases and improve the hiring process. Awareness and sensitivity training programs help others recognize unconscious prejudices and learn how to eliminate them.
- Rewrite your job descriptions. The language used in job descriptions often contains unintentionally stereotypical gender-specific words and phrases. Look for neutral terminology in order to expand and diversify your applicant pool.
- Focus on talent, not demographics. When reviewing candidate’s resumes, it’s important to focus on their qualifications above all else. Consider investing in software that “blinds” the application process by standardizing the information gathered and making skills and experience the key factors.
- Develop a standardized interview process. Structured interviews that ask the same set of questions to all candidates are a great way to minimize bias and tend to be much fairer than open-ended, casual interviews in which questions arise organically. This way every potential employee is treated the same way.
- Implement skills testing for all candidates. Having applicants take a work sample test in advance will help you focus on their abilities and qualifications, rather than unimportant intangibles such as gender, age, or appearance.
- Establish diversity goals. While sometimes viewed as controversial, diversity goals are a surefire way to bring attention to the problem at hand and encourages managers to keep equality top-of-mind in the hiring process.