These unconscious biases influence and shape our perception of reality, our beliefs, and the decisions we make.
However, biases (unconscious, or conscious) have no place in a company’s recruiting or hiring practices. In fact, you could find yourself in a heap of legal trouble if unconscious or hidden biases are left unchecked. The Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits inequality based on race, religion, ethnicity, sex, gender-identity, age, etc.
The Employment Equity Act, as well as the Canada Labour Code also take a negative view on unethical, biased hiring practices. In a modern workplace, biased recruiting habits are outdated and undermine diversity. To overcome our innate (or acquired), biases when recruiting candidates for company vacancies, here are 6 tips that you can easily employ:
We are all more biased than we think we are. Unless we become aware of our own biases, they will continue to affect how and who we hire. Offer training or educational programs to uncover hidden biases and other social stereotypes that you or your hiring managers may harbour. By confronting our own personal biases, we gain a deeper understanding of the prevalence of these biases and the drastic gender disparities they cause. Only when we recognize these biases can we take steps to alleviate them from our hiring practices.
Standardize the Hiring Process
Develop a clearly defined and structured hiring process to minimize any unconscious bias or stereotypes held by interviewers. With a structured process, each candidate goes through the exact same steps and is given the same opportunity to demonstrate their skills and abilities. A standard process will ensure that each candidate is treated fairly and equally. You can have different hiring processes for different positions. As an example, your hiring process for an entry-level position would be different than your hiring process for a front-line or mid-level management position. It’s important to ensure that all candidates being interviewed are evaluated using the same processes.
Create Gender Neutral Job Descriptions & Recruiting Ads
Review existing job descriptions and recruiting ads to ensure that they are not inadvertently scaring potential candidates away. Eliminate adjectives that could unconsciously be construed as gender biased. As an example, the words “determine” or “tackle” are generally considered masculine traits, while the words “support” or “collaborate” tend to be considered feminine. Studies demonstrate that masculine wording in job descriptions or ads diminish job interest among women and perpetuate gender inequality. Popular writing assistant software like Textio, Grammarly Business and Skillroads will scan your job descriptions or ads and flag words that should be swapped out for more gender-neutral language.
Use a Structured Interview
Prior to conducting interviews, create a standard set of questions that you plan to ask every candidate in the interview. Regardless of whether a candidate was recommended for the position or applied online through a job posting site, all should be asked the same questions, given the same tests and the same opportunity to dazzle you with their qualifications. The key here is to keep the playing field level for all. It’s also a good idea to avoid asking candidates questions that cause them to share their age, marital status, religious affiliations or sexual orientation. These questions have nothing to do with a candidate’s ability to perform the job and could accidentally bias the hiring decision.
Use a Blind Hiring Technique
Blind hiring is a technique used to screen candidate resumes and eliminate demographic-related information, such as names, birthdates, gender and email addresses from a recruiter or hiring manager that could lead to conscious or unconscious bias. This forces you to focus on a candidate’s relevant work experience and skills rather than on their background. Blind hiring also promotes greater workplace diversity because it levels the playing field by providing the same assessment for each candidate.
Communicate your Commitment to Diversity and Equality
Job seekers want to know about a company’s culture before they consider applying for an open vacancy. They will spend time reading company websites, reading company reviews from places like Glassdoor, and asking around to find out more about you. They want assurances that they will be welcomed in your company and that you are committed to equality and diversity. Spread the word – let potential candidates know that you embrace diversity and encourage a friendly, equitable workplace.
By eliminating hiring biases, we promote diversity and inclusion. The benefits to us as employers are enormous and include increased creativity, increased productivity, innovation, better employee engagement, reduced employee turnover, increased profits, a wider range of skills and insights into cultural viewpoints. In a diverse workplace, employees feel that their contributions are valued and they are respected.
They open up more, bringing new ideas, new experiences, and problem-solving suggestions to the team.