As business leaders have become more cognizant of the need to address unconscious bias, there has been an increasing top-down commitment to meeting it head-on. While this is excellent news, HR has an important role to play as well. After all, human resources is often a new employee’s first exposure to the organization, so it’s essential to set the right tone and ensure all feel welcome and included.
Unconscious bias shows up in unexpected places
Even when HR professionals and hiring managers do their best to eliminate explicit bias in their recruitment, hiring and promotion process, unconscious bias can sneak in. For example, in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink, he noted nearly 60% of corporate CEOs are over six feet tall. More than 36% of corporate CEOs are over six feet, two inches, while just 15% of American men are over six feet and less than 4% are more than six foot two. Surely, no one is intentionally recruiting exceptionally tall men for executive positions – or at least they’re not putting height in their job requirements – but it shows how insidious unconscious bias can be.
It begins with HR
As a member of your organization’s front lines, you can be instrumental in preventing bias from shutting your company out of the best available bias. Now, you might be vigilant regarding bias against or for members of specific races, cultures, or genders, but they are not the only forms of bias to be aware of.
Screen candidates equally
Referrals are great, but the knowledge that a candidate has been referred to you by a trusted employee can lead to shortcuts. Because you are biased in their favor, you may not put them through as rigorous a screening process as you would a typical candidate or you may give them the benefit of the doubt more than you should.
Hiring for fit can lead to affinity bias
You may think you’re just looking for someone who suits the company culture, when in reality, you’re choosing the person who seems most like the others who work there. Great for comfort, not so great in fostering divergence of thought. This can lead to groupthink – where everyone feels they need to agree with the majority. This can be dangerous to any organization – fatal in some industries.
Contrast bias is another danger to watch for
If you have a slate of several interviews back-to-back and one of them goes particularly well, you may not give the next candidate the chance they deserve. Be aware of this tendency while interviewing so be sure you don’t miss out on talent that might be even better.
Remove bias from your process
Besides being aware of unconscious bias and vigilant in protecting against your own, you can take steps to minimize the impact of unconscious bias, including using testing to improve objectivity. Writing job descriptions that avoid gender-biased words, for example, can help. Software can be used that removes names on resumes to avoid cultural, racial, or gender-based assumptions you may make.
Reduce unconscious bias with The Panther Group
If you are looking for strategies to create a more equitable and diverse workplace, Contact The Panther Group today.
Call 855-899-JOBS (5627)