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Why Reducing Bias in Your Hiring Process is Good for Business

July 13th, 2021
3 min read

It's time to reduce bias in your hiring process. Hiring is a key activity within any organization, but it can be riddled with unintentional bias that prevents you from finding the best candidate for the job.

A group of candidates discussing among themselves before their group interview.

Hiring bias can lead to lost productivity, higher turnover rates, and a less diverse workforce. While more recruiters and hiring managers aim to create a diverse workforce and are always looking at innovative ways to create an inclusive space, bias may still be present during the hiring process.

Incorporating best practices into your hiring process can help reduce bias and give you a  competitive advantage that will put you ahead of your competitors. You can gain valuable insights and reach ideal candidate pools by making small, yet effective, changes to your hiring process.

In this blog, we will be focusing on best practices that you can incorporate into your hiring process to reduce bias. Having a strategic and open approach to your hiring process by identifying, attracting, and engaging all qualified candidates can help your organization attract and retain top talent. 

Modify job descriptions

Creating a job description is one of the first steps that a hiring manager or HR department takes when they begin looking for a new candidate. The reality is, creating a job description is no easy task and can be highly subjective at times. 

If you’re looking to attract the best talent possible, it’s important to ensure your job descriptions don't inadvertently contain biased language.

Bias language in job descriptions can look like

  • Highlighting characteristics that would generally describe male candidates: 
    • Aggressiveness 
    • Independence 
    • Assertiveness 

  • Highlighting characteristics that would generally describe female candidates: 
    • Gentleness 
    • Empathy 
    • Humility 

Job descriptions outline both the requirements and general responsibilities of an open position. These summaries allow candidates to determine whether they possess both the necessary skills and experience to meet an organization’s needs. Francesca Gino, a Harvard Business School Professor states, “Even subtle word choices can have a strong impact on the application pool, [...] Research shows that masculine language, including adjectives like ‘competitive’ and ‘determined,’ results in women perceiving that they would not belong in the work environment”. 

A well-written job description allows employers to attract candidates that possess the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities for an open position but it is important to review the content closely for any possible unconscious bias. 

Have a diverse interview panel 

The right person can make or break your business and it's crucial to get the right fit from the beginning of the hiring process. 

One way you can ensure you are seeking out the best candidate for the position is to have an interview panel that represents different genders, sex, races, age groups, and job positions within the organization. 

According to McKinsey, companies who heavily focus on diversity in their workspace through gender (25%) and ethnicity (36%) see their performance exceeding their competitors. By implementing a diverse interview panel during the hiring process, you'll be able to make the candidate feel more comfortable and recognize that your organization values diversity.  

Anna Chalon, Director of Recruitment and Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) at frame.io states, “As people, we tend to gravitate towards people who look like us, so it’s important to recognize that and work around it to build a diverse culture with people from varied backgrounds and experiences.”

Having a diverse group of employees will help create a more inclusive workplace for everyone. It is important to have diversity at every level on your company's organizational chart to hear all voices.

Remove names from resumes 

Resumes are a very important part of the hiring process for employers. They give a snapshot into an applicant's qualifications and provide recruiters with the opportunity to learn more about candidates before inviting them in for an interview. However, resumes also have their limitations - they are subjective and don't show how well someone will fit within your company culture or personality.

To reduce possible bias during the hiring process, many companies have started removing names from resumes altogether. This allows employers to focus on qualifications rather than biases that could be caused by a name like a gender, race, age, nationality, or other demographic information.

Professor Gino also states, "The fact is Latisha and Jamal do not get the same number of callbacks as Emily and Greg. You need to look at what each person brings to the table [...] A blind, systematic process for reviewing applications and resumes will help you improve your chances of including the most relevant candidates in your interview pool, including uncovering some hidden gems". 

To reduce bias in the hiring process, resumes must be free from any personal information. Names, photos, and other identifying features should be removed from resumes to ensure a fair evaluation of all applicants.  

Conclusion

Understanding how bias may impact your hiring process helps you make better decisions and ensures you are hiring the best candidate for any position based on their skills and personality. 

Your hiring process is a reflection of your company culture. Therefore, it is important to understand how bias can impact your business and for you to take the necessary steps required to counteract the impact. It’s important to note that removing names from resumes, having a diverse interview panel, and modifying job descriptions are just some of the initial steps your business can take to reduce bias during the hiring process. 

If you want to create an inclusive and diverse environment, reducing bias in the hiring process should be high on your priority list.

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