Unconscious Bias In Hiring

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Unconscious Bias In Hiring

"Implicit bias" is a concept that originated in social psychology in the mid-90s and was covered at length in a paper by Mahzarin Banaji, PhD, and Anthony Greenwald of the same name. They found that "social behavior often operates in an implicit or unconscious fashion..." Meaning people's programming from past experiences defined their current choices unconsciously.

Bias in the Hiring Process

Despite our best intentions, these unconscious biases have a way of sneaking into the recruitment process, affecting the outcome of interviews, and candidate's futures. Unconscious bias in recruitment is defined as prejudices that show up when we are making decisions or evaluations without being aware of them. These biases can be based on many factors- just a few of them would be race, gender, age, appearance, socio-economic background, and religion- but there are many more.

Just as implicit biases influence our daily decisions, unconscious bias in the hiring process impacts our candidate choices. Also stemming from experiences in the past that our minds have attached significance to. Whether positive or negative, these experiences creep in and skew our perception and judgment of others - leading to discrimination, exclusion, and missed opportunities for even the best-qualified candidates.

Combating Unconscious Bias in Hiring

Finding and hiring the best-qualified candidates for our team and company should be the #1 priority. Studies have shown that any bias in the hiring process can derail organizational growth strategies and lead to negative shifts in a company's culture.

To counter unconscious biases and their effects on the hiring process, companies have introduced all kinds of standardization in the recruitment process. Structured interviews, blind resumes and recruitment processes, standardized skills assessments, and diversity training just to name a few. And, this proactive approach has made great strides in enhancing workplace diversity, inclusivity, performance, and employee satisfaction. However, there is always more that can be done.

Implicit Bias Testing, Ongoing Training, and Tools

One of the most effective ways to combat unconscious bias in hiring is through self-realization. Testing all your hiring managers and panel interviewers for unconscious biases using Harvard's Implicit Bias test is a great place to start. This will allow your hiring team to see where they may have biases that they were unaware of, and take steps to address them.

In addition to testing, ongoing training and education can also help reduce bias in the recruitment process. Regularly putting your team through anti-bias training will help your company stay true to an inclusive culture. This should include any HR personnel, hiring managers, interviewers, and even employees who may have a say in the decision-making process.

Finally, using the right tools and technology can also help remove bias from the recruitment process. Many companies are now using software that eliminates identifying information from resumes, such as names, genders, and ages. This helps to ensure equal consideration for all candidates based solely on their qualifications and skills. Another great tool is interview intelligence software that uses structured interviews to create objective candidate analysis, reducing the influence of unconscious biases - which is what we're going to cover in the next section.

Real World Examples Of Unconscious Bias

Before we get into real-world examples, let's revisit the topic of technology in hiring to uncover some patterns that inform hiring decisions. One interesting driver of hiring decisions not many people are talking about is employee performance and engagement. When you track employee performance and engagement with AI tools the systems don't know the meaningful differences between time off for maternity leave and sick leave. For example, when evaluating an employee's performance and engagement metrics, the system may show a pattern of decreased productivity during periods of maternity leave - ultimately leading to a biased decision against female candidates who are mothers.

Real-World Examples of Unconscious Bias

It's possible that this type of experience would explain Google's recent struggles with AI hiring bias. After all, the Google engineering team is comprised of some of the smartest engineers in the world- yet, when they built a hiring AI, it showed biases against women. A similar situation was also made public after Amazon created its own AI recruiting tool that showed bias against women as well. In both instances, the companies had to scrap their systems because of the discriminatory outcomes.

With today's technology, unconscious bias in hiring examples actually showcases more than just bias in interviews. They illuminate the culture and performance metrics companies use to rate and rank their workforce. That's why it's so important for companies to actively work towards eliminating these biases, whether through testing, training, or technology. This not only helps create a more diverse and inclusive workplace but also ensures that the best candidates are given equal opportunities in the hiring process.

Let's shift the conversation to how these real-world unconscious bias in recruitment examples can inform hiring practices free from bias - or at least mitigate it as much as possible. Bias in interviews isn't always obvious, especially when it's unintentional.

Structured interviews can mitigate most biases as they create an objective and consistent process for evaluating candidates. Let's take a look at how structured interviews work in practice.

The Role of Structure to Eliminate Unconscious Bias from Interviews

Structured interviews involve asking every candidate the same set of questions, in the same order, with predetermined evaluation criteria. This framework removes many potential biases that show up in unstructured interviews where gut feelings are the main method of evaluation. In addition to standardization, structured interviews also provide a more accurate and comprehensive evaluation of each candidate as they are able to showcase their skills and qualifications in a consistent manner.

Another key aspect of structured interviews is the use of objective scoring criteria that remain consistent across all candidates. This eliminates any subjective factors such as personal biases or preferences from influencing the hiring decision and uses the candidate's skills and job description as the primary KPIs.

Unconscious Bias In The Workplace Examples

Addressing persistent unconscious bias in workplace examples requires a clear head and a proactive approach- but creating an inclusive workplace is worth it. Asking the key question, "How to overcome unconscious bias in the workplace." will not net a simple answer. Training your team to mitigate unconscious bias is not a one-time effort, nor will it be easy. It involves having hard conversations and asking difficult questions. It involves implementing comprehensive strategies such as training to mitigate unconscious bias and leveraging effective methodologies to reduce bias in the hiring process.

How to Reduce Bias In the Hiring Process

Once you've identified ways bias creeps into your hiring process, how do you solve them?

  • Implement anonymous resume review: As mentioned earlier, using software that removes identifying information from resumes can help ensure equal consideration for all candidates. Often, candidates with difficult-to-pronounce names get less attention than those whose names are simple - this is one example of how you can remove bias.
  • Create objective evaluation criteria: Use skills and qualifications as the primary KPIs for evaluating candidates, rather than subjective factors such as personal biases or preferences. Creating an objective hiring process will remove gut decisions and lead to a better team.
  • Conduct structured interviews: As discussed earlier, structured interviews reduce unconscious bias by providing a consistent and objective evaluation process for all candidates.
  • Educate and train your team: It's important to educate and train your team on unconscious bias and how it can impact hiring decisions. This can include workshops, discussions, or online resources.
  • Select an internal champion who will hold others accountable: Having someone within the company who is responsible for promoting diversity and inclusion can help ensure that unconscious bias is actively addressed and mitigated. This person should be unbiased and passionate about creating an excellent team culture where everyone can thrive.

Overall, consider what your team would look like if you allow bias to shape it. Would it be the best team, work culture, and your company's success? Not by a long shot! So taking a proactive approach will help you create a team that is diverse, inclusive, and ultimately more successful. Remember most of the unconscious bias cases you run into in your day-to-day hiring activities will not be overt. But with patience, effort, education, and the willingness to take a critical look at your current hiring processes, you can create a more inclusive workplace free from unconscious bias. Let's work towards creating a world where everyone has equal opportunities to succeed.

If you've struggled to eliminate bias from your hiring processes and would like to see how Pillar's interview intelligence can help, book a demo today. We'd love to show you how our solution has helped customers increase diversity hiring by up to 42% by reducing hiring biases.