Conor Hughes is a certified HR consultant, board member of the Westchester Human Resource Management Association, and marketer.
Learn how to implement seven effective strategies to eliminate recruitment bias and create a more inclusive and diverse hiring process.
Associations want to build a workplace that is fair, inclusive, and diverse. This requires a commitment to eliminating recruitment bias in every aspect of the hiring process.
Recruitment bias can take many forms, from intentional discrimination to unconscious biases that hiring managers may not even realize they have. This can result in missed opportunities to hire talented individuals from diverse backgrounds and can also contribute to a work environment that is less inclusive and equitable.
Studies have shown that recruitment bias can have far-reaching consequences, including lower employee morale, increased turnover, and reduced productivity. It can also lead to a lack of diversity in the workplace, which can limit the exchange of ideas and stifle creativity and innovation.
Here are seven strategies that HR professionals can implement to eliminate recruitment bias in the recruitment process.
Reframe job descriptions to eliminate gender and cultural biases and ensure that they are inclusive of individuals from diverse backgrounds. Avoid using language that has gender-coded connotations, and instead opt for neutral language that describes the required skills and qualifications for the role.
For example, instead of using the term "salesman," use the term "sales representative." Instead of using “he/she” use “they.” HR professionals can also use online tools to analyze the language used in job descriptions and flag any instances of gender bias.
Use blind resume screening methods to avoid unconscious bias during the initial review process. This ensures that candidates are evaluated based on their qualifications and experience, rather than factors such as race, gender, or ethnicity.
To do this, consider removing the following: names, addresses, names of educational institutions, graduation dates, and affiliated organizations. Also remember that information gathered from social media can play a role in bias (i.e., a LinkedIn photo).
Reach out to a diverse range of job candidates by utilizing social media, online job boards, and professional networks. Utilize employee resource groups, diversity and inclusion committees, and other initiatives to actively engage with diverse communities and promote open positions.
In addition, consider partnering with organizations like Women in Technology or the National Society of Black Engineers to reach a wider range of diverse candidates.
Offer unconscious bias training to members of your recruitment team, as well as to hiring managers and interviewers. This will help to raise awareness of how bias can influence the recruitment process and provide strategies for avoiding it. Many HR consultants can provide unconscious bias training for your organization.
An example of unconscious bias in recruitment could be when a hiring manager subconsciously favors a candidate who went to the same university as them, even if that candidate may not be the most qualified for the role. This bias is known as affinity bias, and it can lead to unfair hiring decisions that exclude other qualified candidates.
It's important to note that unconscious bias is often unintentional and can be difficult to recognize. This is why providing training for recruitment teams and hiring managers is so important.
Develop a standardized set of interview questions for all candidates to ensure consistency in the recruitment process. This will help to avoid any potential bias that may arise from subjective questions or those that may lead to discrimination. Providing a QRG (quick reference guide) during an interview can save an organization from asking questions that could be construed as discriminatory or invasive.
Include representatives from different departments, levels of seniority, generations, and backgrounds on interview panels. This will bring a range of perspectives to the interview process and help to reduce the influence of any one individual's biases.
Including these additional perspectives not only helps to keep the interview objective but also allows for the candidate to engage with and present themselves to a larger group, possibly including a panelist who might better understand the nuance of the candidate.
Regularly evaluate and assess your recruitment process to identify any areas where bias may be present. This includes monitoring the diversity of your candidate pool, tracking the number of diverse candidates who are offered jobs, and gathering feedback from both candidates and employees. Engaging with an external firm that specializes in HR audits can add another layer of objectivity.
By implementing these strategies, HR professionals and hiring managers can better ensure that they are attracting a diverse pool of candidates and evaluating them based on their qualifications and experience. This not only leads to a more inclusive and equitable workplace, but it can also improve employee morale, reduce turnover, and increase productivity. Ultimately, eliminating recruitment bias is an ongoing process that requires a commitment to education and improvement. It is a critical step in creating a workplace that values diversity, equity, and inclusion.