Are you recruiting in a biased and unfair way? Would you even know it? 

Recent events have spurred big changes in the world of work, with employers and employees alike rethinking the way teams are built and managed with diversity, equity and inclusion top of mind. Yet, hiring processes have been slow to catch up to these shifting mindsets. Traditional recruiting methods, including job descriptions, applications, resumes and interviews, don’t look much different than those employed a decade ago. 

In fact, research has confirmed that the hiring processes used by most organizations are actually incomplete, leading employers to make team building decisions based on antiquated notions like “gut feeling.” Far too often, these snap judgements are steeped in what is known as unconscious bias.

What is unconscious bias, and how can individuals and organizations reshape their hiring practices to combat this pervasive prejudice that’s undercutting DEI efforts? Here are four steps to take in order to start moving in the right direction. 

Step One: Identifying Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is defined as the, “social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness.” These mental shortcuts can cause people to make prejudiced decisions based on race, gender or age without even knowing it. For example, a white recruiter may review two similar resumes and choose to only contact the applicant with a more familiar sounding name, passing on a Black applicant based on name alone. 

If it’s just a matter of recognizing the problem, then making hiring managers aware of these subconscious impulses should be enough to solve the problem, right?

Unfortunately, no. Research has shown that education on unconscious bias can actually backfire. “Sending the message that biases are involuntary and widespread—beyond our control, in other words—can make people feel they’re unavoidable and lead to more discrimination,” notes Harvard Business Review. According to their research, making a change must go well beyond calling out these tendencies, committing to, “a longer journey and structural changes to policies and operations.”

Step Two: Standardize the Interview Process

One recommendation to go beyond education alone is to standardize the interview process. Unstructured interviews are notoriously unreliable in predicting job successes. However, the Society for Human Resources Management notes that a structured interview process in which candidates are all asked the same set of defined questions can scale back the impact of biases. Pairing this change with tools like an interview score card and grading scale helps to transform the interview from an haphazard conversation to a truly independent data point. 

Step Three: Go Beyond Traditional Hiring Methods

Next, it’s time to go beyond traditional hiring methods to stamp out unconscious bias with the power of technology. For example, companies can employ software systems designed to blind those reviewing applications and resumes from reading certain demographic information, such as names and home addresses. Reporting from MIT Sloan Management Review indicates that while these types of  blinding practices have shown promising results for DEI efforts, only 19 percent of HR professionals they surveyed were currently working at an organization that used blinding policies in hiring.

Another option is to utilize soft skills assessments built on the science of people analytics. These tools can offer hiring managers data that goes deeper than traditional application materials to uncover the personality traits, motivations and behaviors that make an individual unique. Prior to soliciting applications, employers can use these same assessments with their current workforce to see where they may be falling short in terms of diversity of thought. Then, tailor the job search to attract more than hard skills alone with the goal of closing gaps in diversity. 

Step Four: Culture Change 

This final step is the most difficult. Culture in any organization is slow moving. Major change takes time and commitment from employees at all levels to take hold. However, by rethinking the education and hiring processes that exist today, organizations can move away from the “culture fit” model that perpetuates sameness through unconscious bias. By shifting their mindset towards the concept of culture add, employers can expand their company culture by embracing what makes each employee unique. As with any process that takes time, setting clearly defined goals around DEI and tying them to business goals can help to keep all stakeholders accountable. 

When it comes to unconscious bias, simply recognizing the problem isn’t enough. Are you ready to go beyond the resume with a soft skills assessment built on the science of people analytics? Click here to learn more about MyPrint!