bias, recruiting
DiversityInc's Lissiah Hundley outlines tips on preventing bias in the hiring process to allow for diverse applicants to succeed. (Photo: Business photo created by ijeab -

Reducing Bias in the Recruiting Process

Though companies make efforts to hire diverse staff, bias still creeps into the recruiting process.

Not only does diversity help companies give underrepresented applicants a seat at the table, but also it leads to better performance and profits for companies. A recent Stanford University, Northwestern University, Dartmouth College and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology study showed investors were more likely to believe companies with more gender diversity were likely to do better in the stock market. Clear Company data shows diverse teams outperform non-diverse teams by 35%.

Related Story: Research Roundup: Study Finds Investors Predict Tech and Finance Companies With More Gender Diversity Will See Stock Prices Rise

You can help eliminate this bias by addressing your own hiring process and company culture.

Below are some tips on how to achieve a hiring process that supports diversity and inclusion goals.

Training is key!

Achieving diversity begins with educating yourself and your staff and providing resources for them to learn more about implicit bias. Send your team to bias and cultural competency training and have organization-wide conversations about biases. Understand the subtle ways in which hiring prejudices present and operate. The first step in addressing unconscious bias is recognizing it.

Look at the words you use in job descriptions.

Word connotations can be powerful. Use neutral words and non-gendered pronouns like you, they or s/he. Even adjectives can have gendered connotations. Words like “competitive,” and “determined” can be viewed as masculine and alienate women. Likewise, words like “collaborative” and “cooperative” can be associated with femininity. Some software programs can be helpful because they highlight stereotypically gendered words.

Go blind when reviewing resumes.

Going blind doesn’t just mean not knowing what the applicant looks like. Demographic information also can allow bias to creep in. Remove names, addresses and school names that may specifically lead to assumptions about gender, race and socioeconomic status. Don’t consider college names a pedigree.

Give a work sample test.

Test candidates’ skills. Have them solve work-related problems, create a presentation or take a skills test. A skills test forces interviewers to focus on the quality of an applicant’s work rather than their appearance, gender or age. Work sample tests level the playing field as well. Candidates can be compared with one another based solely on their quality of work.

Standardize interviews.

Have structured interviews. Ask each candidate the same set of questions. Focus on factors that will directly impact their performance. To standardize even more, use an interview scorecard so candidates’ responses can be scored on a predetermined scale. Avoid using the same panelists for every open role, and have interviewers submit responses independently to prevent group discussions about candidates. Beware of and question feedback like “not a cultural fit.”

Set diversity goals.

Have hiring goals for the number of women, people of color, veterans and people with disabilities you want to recruit. Encourage self-identification for LGBTQ and people with disabilities. Does your strategy include initiatives that support the hiring of early career talent? There’s a lot to consider when laying out your sourcing and hiring strategy. Most importantly, focus on the demographics that are underrepresented at your organization and get out in front of that talent.

Don’t forget, diversity and inclusion drives innovation and supports business sustainability, so make your hiring strategy count.

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