May 08, 2018
As a hiring manager, you may continually try to avoid bias when hiring new people in your company. However, it can frequently happen anyway if you become complacent, or just don't know what to avoid.
Science continually shows many incidents of unconscious racism, ageism, and sexism during the interview process. Many scientists associate this bias to Plato's allegory of the cave1. In other words, if you live with a provincial view of the world, you're going to live your life in association with what you know.
Even if you're consciously aware that you have bias, you may still end up showing preference for certain people. How do you go about fixing this so your hiring process is continuously fair?
Can You Find Practical Ways to Remove Bias?
The answer to the above question is "yes." According to Harvard Business Review, it all starts from understanding the perspective of others2. While it might seem cliched to "place yourself in someone's shoes", it's still a good foundation.
Sometimes you may have to use practical methods to ensure bias won't creep in when considering new prospects.
You'll want to strive hard to "de-bias" yourself and in your other recruiting agents if you want to set a standard throughout your company. Consider any bias you bring to your company is going to change its culture and norms. Letting it fester could ultimately take you to a point of no return.
If you're lost to what kind of proactive or practical steps you can take, you have more to work with than you think.
Bringing in Awareness Training
A critical first step to changing the pattern in your workplace is to have everyone train to eliminate bias. Awareness is the initial stage so everything else falls in place.
Bringing in an awareness training coach3 helps identify where biases are in your company and lets your team recognize we all have hidden biases. Once they recognize them, they can go about finding ways to reset their thinking.
Changing all patterns of thought takes training and not always something we can do on our own. Despite the world perhaps resetting perceptions, training may need doing again periodically to keep bias from returning.
Creating New Job Descriptions
The job description you put together for online perusal could have bias hidden inside the words you use. Have you read it lately to see what words might attract a specific demographic or gender over another?
For instance, you might use more masculine words in your description if you subconsciously want males working in your company. You may not even realize some of those words you used are turning off women from applying.
You can buy software programs that help scan your job description5 to scope out all the negative words. It pays to use these and remove certain cliches or other jargon subconsciously targeting a certain type of person. Often, using active language is better to attract a more diverse list of candidates.
Our brains sometimes end up doing things we can't control, which is why you occasionally have to outsmart negative thoughts6 you possess. No doubt you've attempted to do this when trying to eliminate other bad habits in your life or career.
Conditioning ourselves to eliminate bias is going to mean outsmarting your biases. This requires essentially blinding yourself to certain things on a prospect's resume and focusing more on skills and other qualifications.
Some software programs help eliminate certain key phrases candidates use in their resumes so you don't automatically set an opinion about someone. Using this "blind" method enables you to find employees who would truly fit in and give you the best possible expertise.
Overall, it's a general reminder you're really hiring based on provable skill and not based on age, what someone looks like, or their educational background.
Changing How You Interview Candidates
Approaches to interviewing can often lead to biases as well. Rather than have one person interview your candidate, it's an effective practice to do what's called collaborative hiring.
More companies are starting to do group interviews so your other executives can ask questions of the prospect. Applying the blind process above, you'll safeguard yourself from bias after you hire a person. There isn't anything worse than having someone you hire face internal biases from superiors who don't feel comfortable with the new employee.
More structured interviews should also become standard practice in your company. Rather than bringing a free-form interview7 where a candidate talks openly about their experience, asking the same questions of every prospect brings a better comparison of their skills.
Using scorecards is a method that helps you center in on what you really need in an employee rather than anything outside those realms.
Setting Diversity Goals
Simply setting a high bar for diversity in your company does much toward eliminating certain biased thoughts about the people you hire. What's most important is when you do diversity training, have all your current employees be transparent about their own biases. Some may not want to admit to them. Nevertheless, getting them out in the open is essential so everyone is aware of what to avoid.
Your pathway to setting diversity goals should start with your business objectives8 and what you need to achieve strategically. Identifying specific needs and concerns in your company can also broach the discussion to get rid of hidden feelings of bias.
Compiling data on how diverse your company culture already is can help bring out more discussions about increasing hiring diversity. You may find some unpleasant surprises when you use big data and start digging deep into how hiring bias continued unnoticed in your company for years.
Having your team take Harvard's Implicit Association Test9 is another good way to bring self-awareness so your diversity goals aren't bogged down with biases too deep-seeded to initially notice.
Contact us at Lorman Education Services to learn more about hiring bias and the methods used to eliminate it from our culture.