Losing Out on High Potential Candidates Due to Unconscious Bias?

Losing Out on High Potential Candidates Due to Unconscious Bias?

Having a diverse, inclusive workplace is critical for business success. However, if your hiring practices are influenced by unconscious bias, achieving your diversity goals will be challenging, if not outright impossible.

 

By understanding what unconscious bias is and how it manifests, it’s possible to overcome the issue. If you are worried that you’re losing out on high-potential candidates due to unconscious bias, here’s what you need to know.

Unconscious Bias Defined

Unconscious bias – also known as implicit bias – is a mental process where beliefs about a group influence decision-making without conscious awareness. Usually, this involves underlying beliefs or prejudices that aren’t intentionally held. Instead, it causes a person to favor an individual or group above others incidentally.

 

In some cases, unconscious bias focuses on preferring individuals or groups that remind a person of themselves, a process that’s also known as affinity bias. Often, the preferences reside in the subconscious. However, they influence the person’s actions.

Examples of Unconscious Bias

Any situation where an unjustifiable but unintentional belief about a group influences a decision means unconscious bias was at play. A prime example could be a hiring manager choosing a younger candidate for a technology role over an older one because of the stereotype that older generations struggle with technology.

 

Similarly, assuming that women are better suited for nursing roles falls in this category. Usually, that belief is based on gender-related caregiver-oriented stereotypes alone and not on a difference in capability between men and women.

 

One study even showed that an applicant’s name played a role in hiring decisions. Resumes featuring white names received 50 percent more callbacks for interviews than African American names, even though all the candidates were equally capable.

How to Reduce the Impact of Unconscious Bias

Essentially everyone has some unconscious biases that may influence their decisions. It’s that lack of awareness of the biases that make them potentially harmful.

 

Addressing unconscious bias requires intention, as well as a multi-faceted approach. Reviewing job descriptions for terminology that may favor a particular background, as well as phrases that might be perceived as culturally insensitive, is a solid place to start. This makes job ads more neutral, increasing the likelihood that a diverse group of applicants will apply.

 

Blind hiring processes can also make a difference. Since the approach removes personally identifiable information (PII) during initial screenings, it can level the playing field significantly.

 

Training hiring managers on the impact of unconscious bias is also vital. This promotes greater awareness, ensuring that beliefs that were once hidden can be identified and properly addressed.

Having a standardized interview process featuring set questions and a pre-defined scoring model is also a wise step. By creating a consistent candidate experience, it’s easier to compare applicants based on their merits.

 

Similarly, using panel interviews featuring a diverse group of interviewers can promote diversity and inclusion. When multiple people from a range of backgrounds are involved, you reduce the likelihood that one person’s unconscious bias will impact decisions.

 

Finally, make sure to monitor the results of your efforts. By doing so, you can see which shifts are having a positive impact and which aren’t generating results.

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