Unconscious bias is the phenomenon in which people form opinions about others based on a first impression rather than a deeper understanding. Often, these first impressions are immediate feelings based on stereotypes and prejudices. In the hiring process, biases can be formed by glancing at a resume and making a judgment about the candidate based on their photo, formatting, or even hometown.
Our biases are products of our personal and lived experiences. As humans, we have an affinity to gravitate toward likeness and comfort. This means, we prefer those who act like us, look like us, and surround us throughout our lives. This becomes a huge threat to traditional hiring tactics and to diversifying workforces.
Research says that when we use unconscious bias in the hiring process, we fail to hire a diverse workforce. And failing to hire a diverse workforce can greatly impact the productivity of an organization. When hiring employees from diverse backgrounds, we can gain a wealth of perspective, knowledge, and experience. Combatting unconscious biases in hiring can allow the company to better reflect the communities they serve, increasing customer satisfaction.
So, how can we combat unconscious bias in the hiring process? Well, it is not all that complicated. We can look for resumes with unique skills and backgrounds. Companies can review candidates blindly without personal information and solely based on skillsets/experience. But the best way to combat biases during hiring is to look for candidates in unique places.
Diversifying the company is one thing. But, diversifying the hiring process and working to eliminate unconscious biases at each stage of this process is what will create long-lasting change. It is time to reflect on where candidates are coming from, how the hiring process may be tailored towards a certain demographic, and how employees move throughout the company.
At Akraya’s program, Women Back to Work, we provide a pipeline to a unique and underutilized pool of women who have taken a break in their careers and are looking to return to the workforce. This pipeline allows us to place qualified women into roles they struggle to get on their own because of unconscious bias in recruiting. They are immediately judged by the gap in their career despite the fact that their gap provided them with transferable skills that employers are desperate for. Most of the women we work with have kept up their skill set, taken courses, and gone the extra mile while tending to the reason they took the break in the first place (caring for a family, illness, relocation). When we rely on biases, we overlook a plethora of skilled and deserving workers.
Checkout www.womenbacktowork.org for more information.
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