Read Time 4 minutes
Author udrafter
Date April 11, 2022

9 Ways to Reduce Unconscious Bias from the Recruitment Process

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Research conducted by The Guardian shows that members of Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic communities are far more likely to have negative experiences — especially at work — compared to white people.

For example, 58% of the surveyed people from underrepresented backgrounds reported being overlooked for a job or promotion in a way that felt unfair, compared to just 35% of white respondents. 53% also reported being treated differently because of their hair, clothing, or appearance, compared to just 29% of white respondents.

Clearly, unconscious bias — which refers to the biases all people hold that cause them to make snap judgments about people and situations — has a significant impact on the experiences of ethnic minorities in the workplace.

If you’re a talent acquisition leader or recruiting specialist looking to combat unconscious bias at your company, keep reading. You’ll learn about the specific effects of unconscious bias, along with some effective strategies you can implement today to address it.

How Unconscious Bias Affects the Recruiting Process

From bias against people of certain races to gender bias, unconscious bias is a crucial issue for recruiters and talent acquisition coordinators to consider.

If you’re not aware of your unconscious biases — and do not actively work to overcome them — you may find yourself overlooking qualified, innovative candidates based on factors that don’t affect their job performance.

You may also be more inclined to hire people who are less qualified or are a poor fit for the job simply because they look like you or share other commonalities that have nothing to do with job performance.

Over time, excluding qualified candidates because of unconscious bias can affect engagement and morale at your company. In turn, this will negatively impact productivity, performance, and profitability.

9 Ways Companies Can Decrease Bias

The good news is that there are lots of ways you can work to overcome your unconscious biases, as well as the biases your team members hold. Here are 9 steps you can start taking today:

1. Be Aware

To remove unconscious bias from the recruiting process, you and your team must first acknowledge that you have biases.

Consider using a tool like Project Implicit, which allows you to familiarise yourself with your existing biases. Once you know what your biases are, you can start actively working to overcome them.

2. Set Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Goals

It’s also helpful to assess where your company currently stands from a diversity, equity, and inclusivity standpoint. Take a look at your current employees and consider where you may be lacking.

For example, do you not have a lot of female representation in the workplace? Are you lacking representation from multiple age groups? Are the majority of your employees white?

You don’t necessarily need to set quotas (e.g.: hire 5 new female employees). However, it does help to set some goals related to expanding diversity at your company so you have something specific to work towards moving forward.

3. Update Job Ads

A lot of recruiters say they don’t have more diversity at their company because they don’t get a lot of diverse applicants. If you’ve caught yourself using this excuse before, take a step back and ask yourself if you’re running into this issue because of the way you write your job ads.

Let’s say you use a lot of conventionally masculine language in your ad copy — such as words like “driven”, “individual”, and “challenging”. If this is the case, you might unintentionally alienate women, as well as some members of the LGBT community.

4. Consider Blind Applications

“Blind” job applications remove a variety of details, such as gender, race, nationality, and age — all of which can contribute to biased hiring decisions. There are lots of recruiting tools that can eliminate these elements from applications and CVs so you and your team can make fairer decisions.

5. Change Your Advertising Channels

If you always post job ads on the same hiring platforms, you may find that you’re attracting the same types of applicants every time you’re hiring for a new position.

By switching things up and posting ads on new channels, you’ll naturally expand your hiring pool and start attracting different kinds of people.

6. Stick to Structured Interviews

Create a structured process for all job interviews. Work with your team to draft a list of questions that every candidate will be asked — and emphasise the importance of sticking to this list.

Make interviews as structured as possible to ensure you’re evaluating all candidates based on the same criteria. This allows for more fairness throughout the hiring process.

7. Make Hiring a Group Effort

Don’t let one person make all the hiring decisions at your company.

If you have a panel of people who assist with the recruitment process, you’ll get to benefit from a variety of perspectives and points of view. This makes it easier to recognise potential biases, too and prevents them from clouding people’s decision-making.

8. Consult Current Employees

You may also want to bring current employees into the hiring process.

Ask candidates to complete test projects while working alongside current employees. This allows you to see how each person works with the current team and helps you to judge them based on key factors like their work quality.

9. Use Personality and Cognitive Testing

Personality tests, psychometric testing, and cognitive testing are all effective tools that allow you to objectively assess candidates.

For example, evaluating people based on the Big Five personality traits (Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Neuroticism, and Openness) allows you to look at each applicant as an individual.

You can then use the results of the assessment to determine how well each candidate will fit into your existing team and help you accomplish your goals.

Decrease Bias and Increase Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Are you ready to improve company culture and help your employer achieve its inclusivity and diversity goals? If so, start with one (or more) of the recruitment strategies listed above.

For more help creating a more inclusive work environment, be sure to use Udrafter — we provide access to a large pool of diverse, quality candidates.

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