When you are hiring new staff, your goal is to find the best employee you can, someone who will do a great job, progress within your company and become a successful team member.
Unconscious bias, can, however, influence your decision. It is not always easy to identify when this is happening, and it can be reflected in a workforce that is not as diverse as it should be.
Why do you need a diverse workforce you may ask? There are a number of reasons; it can enhance a company’s reputation, and make it a better place to work, which in turn can help to attract better candidates, and widen the pool of talent from which you can recruit. Having employees with diverse backgrounds and experience can also help increase creativity, employee engagement and even increase your bottom line [Independent: Businesses perform better when they have greater ethnic and gender diversity, study reveals 19/01/2018].
In the wake of Black Lives matter, perhaps what we should be looking at is something called Togetherism. According to UrbanDictionary.com: ‘Togetherism is when people do things together, the act of such an activity is togetherism. Maintaining a cohesive relationship and unity is togetherism.’
In the workplace we need to keep striving to make Togetherism a focus, to make places where ‘cohesive relationships and unity abound’. This means it doesn’t matter what your background is, where you come from, what you look like or indeed what your name is, you have an equal opportunity to succeed.
So, what better place to start than at the very beginning, when you employ someone. The time when you start your recruitment campaign. And as we step out of lockdown into a new normal, where many people’s lives have changed what better time to start it?
Here are six ways to ensure that your recruiting process is not affected by bias or prejudice and aims to create Togetherism in the workplace:
1. Teach recruiters about hiring bias
As we have said, recruiters can operate using ‘unconscious’ bias. You need to be able to make them aware of this by training those responsible for recruiting to identify bias, acknowledge how and why it is happening, and help them learn to change their behaviour.
2. Edit job descriptions
The language used in a job description can put off a number of good candidates. Avoid referring to gender or age and try to talk about the sort of skills you want a person to have, rather than being restrictive about their experience or ability to use a certain program. You could narrow down candidates so much that you miss out on the ideal person for the job.
3. Put on your blindfold!
Not literally, but if you are concerned that you or others involved in the hiring process use unconscious bias when hiring, take away the risk. Ensure that applications come to you after names, ages, ethnicity or other identifying details are deleted, so that you can instead concentrate on applicants’ skills and attitude. Make your first contact by telephone, not a Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp or other video call. By using the phone you will listen to the person and be less likely to make snap judgements on what they look like, or what they are wearing, or whether or not they have a tattoo that you like or dislike. You form an opinion on what you hear, how engaging they are, what questions they ask, how interested they sound. You get to know the person before you see them. And isn’t this how many relationships are formed these days on social media?
4. Create an interview standard
Ensure that each candidate gets the same interview experience. If you create a standard format for your interviews, with the same questions, you will help to remove any unconscious bias on the part of the interviewers. In fact, you should standardise the entire recruitment process to this end.
5. Ensure hiring is not based on interview alone
It may be easier, for example, for men to form a rapport with a male interviewer, allowing the bias to skew away from female candidates. If possible, ensure that you have more than one interviewer and make that panel as diverse as you can. However, by making sure that hiring decisions are not made entirely on the result of an interview – and instead is based on a skills test or an interview held while ‘on the job’- you take away another opportunity for bias to win through.
If you are aiming to make your company more inclusive and diverse, you will need to set goals, whether you want to have more BAME staff, increase the proportion of women, younger or older staff and so on. For some inspiration, the BBC’s reports and strategy on diversity and inclusion make fascinating reading.
In a small company, it can be hard to achieve this on your own and bringing in an expert in HR and recruitment can be hugely worthwhile if you are serious about making your workforce reflect your local community.
If you would like to discuss this subject further and find out how we could help you navigate diversity issues, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.
T: 07767 308717 or contact us here.
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Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.