Diversity Hiring

What is diversity hiring?

Diversity hiring refers to the practice of organizations recruiting individuals from underrepresented groups. Workplace diversity refers to a staff demographic makeup that includes members of underrepresented groups similar in proportion to the society at large. For example, if the general population is 20% black, 52% female, 15% Latino, an organization’s labor force would have a demographic makeup similar to that of the general population.

Hiring bias prevents organizations from achieving workforce diversity. Companies that do more than pay lip service to diversity identify and eliminate the biases found in their hiring process.

Get Rid of Hiring Bias – 6 Most Common Types

These are categorized as cognitive biases. A cognitive bias is a flaw in judgment. Think about a coin toss that comes up heads ten times in a row. Although statistics dictate that there is always a 50% chance–or probability–that the next toss will be tails, it seems unlikely.

1. The Halo Effect

We are all aware that first impressions matter. This is related to the halo effect. Once we have a positive opinion of someone, it can be difficult to change our mind. The halo effect refers to the phenomenon whereby a person’s positive qualities are perceived to extend beyond his or her actual accomplishments.

2. Expectation Bias

A recruiter might look at dozens of resumes and form an impression based on a candidate’s qualifications, without ever meeting the person in question. This can lead to the halo effect—an exaggerated sense of someone’s abilities, due to a positive first impression. The recruiter may be more likely to overlook obvious flaws.

3. Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek out information that validates one’s own opinion. As a hiring bias, it’s the tendency to focus only on the aspects of a candidate that coincide with your pre-established opinion.

4. Anchoring Bias

The hiring bias known as anchoring occurs when a hiring manager fixates on one piece of information and gives it more weight than it deserves.

5. Social Comparison Bias

Managers hiring for their own team are especially prone to the social comparison bias, which is a tendency to dislike or feel competitive with others who may have similar skills.

6. Ingroup Bias

Ingroup bias is the tendency to favor people who are similar to oneself. In other words, it is favoritism based on group membership. This can be seen in biases against women or minorities, but there are also less obvious examples of ingroup bias. For example, some hiring managers might look more favorably on fellow alumni.

Now that we have discussed types of unconscious bias, you should be aware of their existence and how they can negatively impact your hiring process. An applicant tracking system (ATS) can be used in many ways to reduce bias. For example, an ATS can hide aspects of a candidate’s profile that you don’t want to consider. Also, you can use an ATS to manage gender- and ethnically-neutral job descriptions. Plus, you can decrease the shared information bias when everyone keeps notes in a central location. Lastly, tracking all candidates and hires in a centralized location makes it easier to track diversity metrics.

Improving Your Organization’s Diversity – An 8 Step Program

After you have identified the types of hiring bias present in your organization, it is time to create an action plan for how to reduce and hopefully eliminate them.

1. Set Goals that can be Measured

Examine your company’s current demographics, and create short- and long-term goals to achieve parity.

2. Incorporate Employee Resource Groups

Use employee resource groups (ERGs) during interviews to make diverse candidates feel more comfortable. If you do not currently have ERGs, encourage your staff to create them and support them in the effort.

3. Blind Resume Assessment

Studies show that resumes with white-sounding names receive more callbacks or interviews than those that seem non-white, so many candidates ‘whiten’ their names and backgrounds. You can use an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to remove names and hide demographic information.

4. Diversify Your Hiring Team

Do the members of your hiring team represent the diversity of your applicant pool? If minority candidates have several job openings to choose from, the makeup of the interview team could be a factor in their decision.

5. Train Employees on Hiring Bias

In order to increase workforce diversity, employees must be aware of unconscious bias and how it can negatively affect the workplace. You can create your own internal training program, hire a consultant, or use online resources like Google’s unconscious bias training.

6. How to Write Compelling Job Ads with the Right Requirements

Make sure your job descriptions are free of gender-specific language. You can always use the job title in place of any pronoun.

Just as important as giving your job descriptions a makeover, consider your job requirements. If ‘corporate culture match’ is a hiring criterion, remove it. This is an easy place for unconscious bias to creep in, and will hinder your efforts to increase workforce diversity. Furthermore, if you have a homogenous workforce, you don’t want to use it as a measuring stick anyway.

7. Use Structured Interviewing

Rewrite interview scripts to remove bias, and train your interviewers to use them correctly by following EEOC guidelines. Manage your structured interviewing scripts in your ATS.

8. Ask Employees for Diverse Referrals

In addition to revamping recruitment communications, use your employee referral program. Encourage employees to refer qualified applicants from underrepresented groups.


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