To build a diverse team is to gather a workforce of compatible, capable, inspiring, and effective individuals. The output of a team with wide-reaching personalities, skill sets, and backgrounds is superior to any other. Research has proven time and time again that when leadership teams are more diverse, they tend to drive superior financial and strategic performance.
Companies create diverse teams not by meeting a quota of physical attributes or socio-economic backgrounds, but by finding the right candidate for the job through unbiased hiring.
The upcoming generation of leaders’ demand for diversity and inclusion has been heavily placed upon human resources (HR) departments. It’s troubling to consider that despite great demand for diversity and inclusion in the workplace, companies are still stagnant in diversifying work environments.
We’ve run into a dilemma in which our call for diversity has caused businesses to continue to hire based on a candidate’s race, gender, or other non-performance-related labels. Creating a diverse work environment shouldn’t mean hiring three Black people, two women, and one person living with a disability just to fill a quota that would deem a business “diverse enough.”
Creating a diverse work environment should entail finding the right person to fill the role by providing equal access and opportunity to all job seekers.
What To Look for In Job Candidates to Build Diverse Workplaces
When hiring, recruiters should aim for diversity but do so the right way. The best teams are created by implementing an objective recruitment strategy.
Objective recruitment is hiring based on objective criteria such as a candidate’s education, work experience, cognitive skills, potential, and competence. Hiring based on objective criteria enables recruiters to hire the right candidate for the job, not the one that will satisfy a quota.
I feel that I need to clarify that objective recruitment, if not done correctly, can still lead to an exclusive work environment. Consider this: When I mention that objective criteria include someone’s education, do your biases bring you to any conclusions on where this education may have come from?
Your biases may have told you that hiring the candidate from Harvard over the candidate who attended community college is an objective decision. Considering a university’s name ignores the fact that both candidates received the same degree and invested the same amount of time into acquiring it.
Education is education, work experience is work experience, and cognitive skills are cognitive skills. Altering your perception of what criteria qualifies your candidate may change the result of who your final hire is. Even though implementing an unbiased hiring process is easier said than done, it will benefit your company in the long run more than you may realize.
What is Biased Hiring?
To be biased is to feel or show favor or prejudice for or against a person or group. There aren’t many of us who will admit to our biases, especially when it comes to our hiring processes. If we claim that we don’t have any biases, we’re simply wrong. We’re all susceptible to unconscious biases such as unconscious racism, ageism, sexism, ableism.
Unconscious biases and biased hiring have played a massive role in creating the exclusive and homogenous workplaces that we see today. Biases can thwart companies’ diversity efforts and disrupt recruitment, promotion, and retention efforts. Biases impede the success of everyone and everything.
As we move towards a future in which only those businesses that prioritize diversity and inclusion succeed, it is crucial that we remove bias from every process that we can. This starts with the recruiting and hiring process.
How To Achieve Unbiased Hiring
Unbiased hiring is when recruiters select the best candidate for the role without allowing their biases, unconscious or not, to get in the way. How do we prevent our biases from getting in the way if we’re not always conscious of them? Gaining awareness is a great place to start.
Recognizing that everyone has biases and promoting an open dialogue about the matter is a great first step towards reducing bias in the hiring process. We can’t address and mitigate an issue without first being aware of its existence and impacts.
Ways To Reduce Bias in The Hiring Process
After recruiters address and recognize the issues with biased hiring, it’s time to put some processes into effect that reduce the bias in their hiring process. The “de-biasing” of your process begins with deciding where and how you post the job listing.
Creating Inclusive and Accessible Job Listings
We often come across a job posting that lists qualifications that aren’t necessarily must-haves for the ultimate candidate. Let’s take the phrase “ability to type,” for example. Many companies require that candidates be able to type a certain number of words per minute. Expecting a task to be done within a certain amount of time isn’t the issue here, but expecting it to be done your way is.
The phrase “ability to type” excludes and isolates those who use dictation services to accomplish their work. Exclusionary requirements discourage some applicants, perhaps the ideal applicant, from applying for the role.
Removing exclusionary language and adding inclusive considerations to your job listing can open doors to a whole new pool of candidates. Recruiting materials should be available in multiple formats, including large print, audio, and braille. If the platform in which you post your listing doesn’t allow for multiple formats, feel free to add a phone number or e-mail that can be contacted to provide full access.
Along with providing recruitment materials in multiple formats, job listings should be posted to various platforms. There are numerous job sites committed to connecting employers with diverse candidates and that cater specifically to job seekers of marginalized communities. Some of them include Disabled Person, Diversity Jobs, and Getting Hired.
Your job listings should convey your openness to accommodating the needs of everyone. Make the diverse, accessible, and inclusive culture of your company clear to your applicants. You want to actively encourage applicants, not deter them.
Ignoring Irrelevant Resume Information
The next step in the recruitment process is receiving the applicants’ resumes. As mentioned earlier, where someone received their education might sway your decision. In reviewing a resume, many of our biases can prevent certain applicants from getting to the next rounds of the hiring process.
A name, address, college name, or graduation date may cause recruiters to decide based on their biases rather than logic. To avoid these, it’s key to remain focused on the objective criteria. It may be hard to ignore irrelevant information when it’s right next to the important stuff. For this reason, leading recruitment strategists have developed blind hiring processes.
What is Blind Hiring?
Blind hiring is completing the hiring process while blind to factors that trigger your biases. I’ve laid out three ways recruiters can reduce the amount of bias in their hiring process.
1. Objective Criteria Resumes
Recruiters can remain objective by redacting irrelevant information from submitted resumes. Resumes can either be edited by the applicants themselves, a third party, or a blind hiring software program. Names can be swapped out for numbers and universities’ names don’t even need to be mentioned. Rethink what information on a resume actually identifies a candidate’s ability to do the listed job.
2. Accurately Determining Candidates’ Capabilities
It’s also possible for recruiters to blind review someone’s capabilities. Recruiters can ask applicants to complete a work sample test. Sample tests evaluate candidates’ abilities to complete the same kinds of tasks that they’ll be doing in the job they’ve applied for. Work sample tests are one of the strongest indicators of someone’s future job performance.
3. The Interview Itself
At some point, recruiters will have to speak to the applicants live. If the interview process consists of a phone call before a face-to-face meeting, then you can make the call “blind.” Using voice-altering software can make it so that the candidate’s voice doesn’t distinguish them in any way. The applicants who are right for the job will make it to the face-to-face meeting next round.
Once recruiters meet with final candidates in-person or over Zoom, there’s no way to remain blind. Although recruiters will no longer be blind, they’ve already reduced the amount of bias in the hiring process by bringing awareness, making their job listing inclusive, and only considering objective criteria.
The members of the HR department need to have a thorough background in diversity and inclusion. Including a team member from HR to oversee the blind hiring initiative will benefit the final outcome.
We can’t make the entire hiring process blind or completely exclusionary of our biases. But we can try our best to be more inclusive. The more that companies prioritize unbiased hiring, the more diverse work environments we’ll find.
The Importance of Creating Diverse Workplaces
It’s no secret that a more diverse and inclusive world is an asset to us all. When it comes to business, the same understanding applies.
Research from McKinsey has found that companies in the top quartile for gender, racial, and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians. McKinsey concludes that diversity is probably a competitive differentiator that shifts market share toward more diverse companies over time.
McKinsey clarifies that greater gender and ethnic diversity in corporate leadership doesn’t automatically translate into greater profits, as correlation does not equal causation. Yet, they note that correlation does indicate that when companies commit themselves to create more diverse workplaces, they become more successful. More diverse companies are better able to attract, retain, and motivate top talent and improve their employee satisfaction.
Companies should reevaluate their approach to creating a diverse work environment. It would be naïve for them to strive to satisfy a quota by collecting statistics and ticking off checklists. Allow equal opportunity for every qualified candidate to find and apply for the job. Diverse workplaces make for better business and allow us to progress toward a more inclusive world.