In Canada, biased hiring practices are human rights violations. Bias can be difficult to spot – but employers can reduce bias if they know where to look. Learn more about bias in recruitment practices and how you can assess your hiring here.
The decision to give or deny someone a job is not an easy one to make. For both the employer and candidate, this single decision of the job offer can have a dramatic and lasting effect. Though the final decision to hire appears to be a single event, the hiring process is a successive chain of decisions gathered from a variety of sources and/or individuals.
In a time where employers encourage inclusion and celebrate diversity, our recruitment teams and their tools just need to consistently cast objective decisions. Combined with some of the lowest unemployment rates we’ve seen in decades, Western Canadian businesses strive to make fair and equitable decisions through their hiring process.
As you work to clean up how you source, screen, select, and onboard employees, learn more about bias in recruitment and how to take proactive steps to reduce it.
So how can employers combat bias before it affects the recruitment process? Involving multiple and diverse parties in the hiring process, acknowledging bias as a real issue, examining algorithms for unwanted biases, and editing job titles, descriptions, and advertisements to be more inclusive are easy steps companies can take to make their recruitment process fair for all applicants.
Step #1: Acknowledge the Potential of Biases
Studies have shown that society and the environment hardwire humans for bias. We are simply more comfortable with things that are familiar – and, in all reality, what could possibly be more familiar to us than ourselves?
In the Social Psychology world, experts refer to this concept to as the familiarity principle. By accepting the very possibility that this ease and comfort, associated with familiarity, will often drive hiring decisions, we can begin to reduce unfair hiring practices caused by intrinsic bias.
It’s hard to remove something that we can’t or won’t see. In order for organizations to make fair and appropriate recruitment decisions, they must first identify the potential for bias to exist and create a plan to reduce the potential of its influence through the recruitment process. Sit down with your employees and discuss bias openly. Make notes of what unconscious biases you may hold and actively combat them in the screening and recruitment processes.
Step #2: Increase Inclusion When Creating Hiring Standards and Efficiencies
Risk factors for bias in the recruitment process increase substantially when single individuals or very exclusive teams determine the parameters on which employers make hiring decisions. To ensure inclusivity and diversity in the decision-making process, the hiring team should gather several perspectives from different individuals within the company.
Employers can accomplish this task in a number of ways, including focus groups, representative hiring committees, and even through the use of online surveys and data gathering technologies such as a Job Description Survey. These strategies help to include many more perspectives on what the company should expect from a new hire well before they define and distribute hiring requirements. Inclusivity in creating hiring standards and definitions will dramatically improve the diversity of your applicant pool through exercises that focus on inclusion.
Step #3: Assess Unconscious Bias in Job Titles, Advertisements, and Descriptions
It’s important to remember the impact of the language used to define and advertise your roles. The message sent through content in your job advertisements, job descriptions, and even the job title could affect the dynamics of your candidate pools.
A common illustration of this unconscious bias in the recruitment process can occur at the very initial phases of candidate interaction. To assess this bias, look at your job titles. Something like “Assistant to the Chairman” or “Journeyman Plumber” without intention, subtly indicate that these are roles more appropriately for a specific gender. You may also want to assess your job descriptions for anti-immigrant bias as well.
Step #4: Use Algorithmic Hiring With Care
Algorithms have made their way into many business practices today. More and more, recruitment products and tools are introducing the use of algorithms in the name of efficient, consistent hiring. In a recent article, The Globe and Mail outlines the unconscious risk biases associated with data driven recruitment methods and hiring algorithms.
Depending on the sophistication of the process chain, the unconscious bias can begin to show in candidate pool demographics. When selecting your recruitment resources and platforms, ensure programming and customizations used to source, screen, and select candidates provide inclusive methods at the design phase. Like individual people or exclusive hiring teams, algorithms should not cast unilateral decisions that prevent the human eye from viewing a file.
Reducing the unconscious bias in the hiring process may feel like an overwhelming task. However, you can accomplish bias reduction with these tips. Inclusivity and efficiency can coexist as you source, screen, select, and onboard new employees.
You can uncover stronger workflow efficiencies and recruitment practice expertise through a conversation with our talented team at SmartHire®. Contact us today for your free consultation and more tips on recruiting the best talent for your company.