Is bias baked into your company’s hiring process? Do your job listings attract or favor certain types of candidates—certain people—over others? Unfortunately, bias is still a pervasive problem in businesses’ hiring practices. The language used, the qualifications required, and the process itself can all be geared to attract particular demographics, whether the company’s hiring team realizes it or not.
Studies have shown, for instance, that women tend to apply for a position if they meet 100 percent of the criteria; whereas, men will apply even if they only meet 60 percent. If a company includes a long list of requirements in its job postings, that could deter female candidates who are just as qualified—if not more so—than male job hunters.
Additionally, candidates with “white sounding” names or experiences on their resumes are much more likely to make it to the first round of interviews than their BIPOC counterparts. A study published by Harvard Business Week found that Black job candidates were twice as likely to get a callback when they “whitened” their resumes (removing any hints of their race).
How can your company identify issues in its hiring process? And what can it do to fix them and make recruitment and hiring more equitable? Let’s talk about 6 ways to level the recruitment (and hiring) playing field.
Scrutinize the Status Quo
What materials does your company currently use for recruitment and hiring? What processes and practices are in place? Before diving in to make changes, it’s important to understand what the company is currently doing and what could be modified, eliminated, or added. To conduct a thorough examination, I recommend assembling a team of individuals with a variety of different backgrounds and experiences to look over the company’s hiring materials and processes—job listings, callback protocol, interview practices, etc.
Implement Blind Hiring Practices
Blind hiring practices can help eliminate bias in the recruitment process. This involves removing any identifying information from resumes and applications, such as names, gender, race, and other personal details. Instead, candidates are evaluated solely on their skills, qualifications, and experience.
Revise Job Descriptions and Qualifications
Take a critical look at your job descriptions and qualifications to ensure they are inclusive and not inadvertently biased towards certain people. It’s important to use gender-neutral and inclusive language to welcome candidates of all backgrounds (online programs can help you evaluate job listings for bias). Additionally, job descriptions should focus on the essential skills and qualifications needed for the role, rather than setting strict and unnecessary requirements. If on-the-job experience is an adequate substitute for a certain requirement consider adding the phrase “or equivalent experience.”
Diversify Candidate Sourcing
Expand your candidate pool by reaching out to diverse networks, organizations, and communities. This can include attending job fairs and events targeted toward underrepresented groups, partnering with diversity-focused organizations, and utilizing online platforms that connect employers with diverse talent.
Implement Structured Interviews
Structured interviews provide a consistent and fair assessment of candidates by asking all applicants the same set of predetermined questions. This helps to minimize bias and ensure that each candidate is evaluated based on their qualifications and fit for the role. Consider developing a standard set of interview questions that focus on the essential skills and competencies required for the position.
Provide Training on Unconscious Bias
Unconscious bias can influence decision-making throughout the recruitment process. As I’ve discussed in a past blog post, people are wired to take mental shortcuts, which can inadvertently lead to bias. To confront unconscious bias, it’s a good idea to engage in DEI-centered training to 1) build awareness and 2) proactively work to overcome bias. (Uplifting Impact can help!)
Creating an equitable recruitment process requires a critical examination of current practices and an intentional effort to address bias. With a little strategy, and a lot of intentional action, companies can level the playing field and attract a diverse pool of qualified candidates. Only by addressing bias can companies truly ensure fairness in their hiring processes and, thus, give all qualified candidates a fair shake, no matter their background.