Prejudice in recruitment is prevalent and hard to overcome. Human beings aren’t good at being perfectly unbiased. We all have bias, conscious or unconscious, and it’s this deep-rooted nature of human prejudice that remains a recurring hurdle in diversity recruitment.
In order to tackle discrimination, we must address our own bias and challenge these ‘natural’ thoughts. But efforts in re-educating people through diversity training can fail in the face of something so ingrained. Instead, perhaps the next way to rise above prejudice, is to interrupt bias in a completely new way and rethink the recruitment process.
Adam or Mohamed
Unconscious bias plays an influential role right from the CV screening process. Studies have found racial and gender bias starts simply from someone’s name:
- English sounding names on CVs are 75% more likely to get an interview than identical CVs with Asian names
- English sounding names on CVs are 50% more likely to get an interview than identical CVs with black-sounding names
- Applicants with male names are 40% more likely to get an interview than similar CVs with female names
- English sounding names are offered three times more interviews than an application with an Arabic name.
And of course, biases in recruitment goes far beyond the sound of one’s name, they are many and varied.
Interviewers often go with their gut feeling when hiring, following personal connection, and valuing shared interests over skills. This would surely discriminate those who aren’t similar to the interviewer.
More alarmingly 60% of decisions are made within the first 15 minutes of an interview, and 26% made within 5 minutes. Can we really believe that these quick, instinctive decisions are truly based on a fair assessment of a person’s capabilities?
Basic anthropology tells us that groups tend to recruit new members who are similar to themselves, and these studies feed into that notion. Blind hiring, however, rewrites this.
In the 1970s, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra was made up of mainly white male musicians. To address this problem, judges began auditioning musicians behind screens, concealing the musician’s identity. This resulted in the orchestra increasing their number of women musicians from 5% to 25%, with a lot more diversity overall. Moreover, they benefitted in a richer, greater sound.
Simply being a white male automatically increased a candidate’s chances of being selected. Those same challenges of unconscious bias are present across industries, and these industries are starting to adopt this same process.
To overcome bias, more companies are blind hiring. The practice anonymizes a candidate by removing identifiable information from CVs such as their name, gender, age, education, address, and even sometimes the number of years of experience, or certain hobbies that might indicate a particular group. The aim is to strip a candidate’s CV down to exclusively assess a candidate based on their skills and abilities without bias. Blind hiring simply places the emphasis back on the skills needed for the job.
And the important thing is; it works, blind hiring increases diversity in workplaces. According to studies by Gapjumpers, the number of non-white male applicants who made it to a first-round interview rose from 20% to 60% through blind recruiting.
Good for business
Diverse workforces cultivate many benefits for your company, so eliminating bias from the hiring process is just good business practice. But it’s not all about diversity, ultimately the real point is to recruit the best talent for your company, without being clouded by bias.