In many industries, the standard hiring process is clouded by unfair and unseen biases. Employers may be unconsciously hiring certain individuals over other individuals on the basis of race, nationality, ethnicity, gender or age. Companies who have biased hiring processes, even if such biases are unintentional, can face a wide range of legal problems. To reduce liability exposure and to ensure that the best candidates are chosen for a position, there are several action steps companies can take to reduce unconscious bias in their hiring process.
Educating managers on the inherent bias in their practices or procedures is the first step in changing a company’s hiring culture. Managers may not realize that they have developed a narrow view of the position for which they are hiring. Proper education about the problem of bias can be an effective, proactive step in developing a company strategy for reducing hiring bias. Bias awareness training is being offered by more companies. When companies recognize that biased hiring has a detrimental effect on the diversity, recruiting efforts, promotion rates, and staff retention, they are more willing to take steps to eliminate it.
Job descriptions should include language inclusive of the natural strengths of both men and women. Studies indicate that the use of stereotypical masculine or feminine words can influence whether applicants of a gender apply for the position. Job descriptions should strive to be inclusive of a balanced number of gendered adjectives and verbs. For example, many individuals naturally associate words implying competition and drive to male employees. Words that invoke feelings of empathy or cooperation are more commonly applied to female employees. By replacing gender associated words with neutral words, companies can avoid subtly casting certain positions as either male or female.
Software programs can be used to create a blind hiring process where the demographic characteristics of the applicant are not made known. This can ensure a more systematic process where an individual’s name, age, or other surface information does not overshadow their qualifications or talents.
Many companies use both work sample tests and interviews as part of the hiring process. When interviews and tests are unstructured or subjective, it can lead to subtle bias. Work sample tests should focus on skill sets that allow the company to examine the quality of the candidate’s work. Effective work sample tests will mirror the types of tasks that the candidate would be asked to perform should they obtain the job. Interviews should be both structured and standardized to allow for independent data on qualities essential to the position. When an interview lacks defined questions about an individual’s experience or expertise, bias is more likely to occur.
For companies that have identified a bias in their hiring process, making diversity a company goal can have significant business advantages. Encouraging managers to overcome their natural bias can result in a larger applicant pool and hiring more qualified employees in the future. Many companies have recognized the creative benefits that come with hiring employees with diverse perspectives.
To learn more about how bias in the hiring process could be affecting your business, schedule a consultation at MacMain, Connell & Leinhauser today by calling us at 484-318-7106 or submit an online inquiry form.