For decades, studies have shown that racial bias impacts the hiring process drastically. Candidates with African American, Hispanic, and Asian-sounding names get called for interviews at rates down to half of those of their white-sounding counterparts. Data spanning several decades shows that racial hiring bias hasn’t improved measurably in over 25 years.
How Does It Happen?
Unconscious racial hiring bias is pervasive and, at times, a subtle form of racism that people face every day. The term refers to beliefs individuals hold about other groups of people that are outside their own conscious awareness. These snap judgments made unconsciously in the brain manifest as subtle shifts in behavior — moving a purse to the other side when a young black man walks past or referring to groups of different skin colors as the “other.”
These biases manifest more frequently during times of stress, when operating on tight time constraints, or while multitasking. Much of this discrimination happens in the screening stage when candidates are rejected based on the subjective opinion of the interviewer reviewing a resume and cover letter.
Due to the large volume of candidates, researches are forced to narrow the field based on assumptions formed with a glimpse of a resume. Unconscious bias enters this process as they race to fill a position as quickly as possible. In addition, they are managing a team of interviewers who are balancing the process with their normal day-to-day tasks. They are more likely to be rushed and multitasking while hiring as a result.
A Couple of Examples
For a dedicated HR recruiter, they are reviewing dozens (if not hundreds) of resumes and cover letters per day for a large organization. One recruiter said she spends approximately 25 seconds looking at an applicant’s documents. In that time, a recruiter will review your current role, look for a clear career progression, look for keywords related to the position they are hiring for, and ensure you meet the required criteria for the position (think degrees or geographic location).
Once they have waded through the pool of 50-100 or more applications, they will select a handful to call back for individual interviews. This process will happen in a single day — perhaps even a few hours — and any unconscious bias an individual holds can quickly enter the process in those mere 25 seconds.
For a smaller or less formal company, the hiring process may fall to the vacant position’s manager. They will bring together a team of up to 5-6 additional people to serve on the hiring and interviewing committee. That’s 6-7 people who are managing a hiring process in addition to their day-to-day work. Given that a typical hiring process takes anywhere from 25-50 hours for a single position, that workload is distributed among the team to multitask with their existing duties.
This time crunch creates a perfect breeding ground for unconscious bias to negatively impact the process. During the early screening stage, hiring managers and HR recruiters are spending as little as 25 seconds looking at a resume and making a snap decision about an individual’s ability to perform the job functions.
So how can companies combat a racial hiring bias? The following are our three best tips for reducing bias in order to recruit a talented and diverse team for your company:
1. Set diversity and inclusion as a benchmark
In the hiring process, we frequently emphasize the importance of “cultural fit.” Sometimes, this is mistaken as “people who are just like us.” This creates a homogenous culture lacking in diversity. Until your company makes diversity and inclusion a benchmark for success for your organization, it will always be just out of reach.
Create or source diversity training for every employee in your organization—and make it mandatory. Engrain diversity and inclusion in every part of your brand, all the way down to your company values. Intentionally seek diverse perspectives and emphasize that value in your recruitment efforts. Work with your leadership team to set benchmarks that make sense for your company and product for diversity and inclusion.
2. Broaden and focus your recruitment efforts
Include a specific statement encouraging people from diverse backgrounds to apply to your position. Ensure your hiring team or hiring manager focuses more on an individual’s skills and ability than other metrics that may introduce bias, such as graduating from a prestigious university. As much as possible given the current makeup of your organization, try to put in place a diverse hiring team in terms of race, gender, age, and ability.
If you aren’t getting good, diverse word-of-mouth referrals, you aren’t looking in the right places. Build relationships with local cultural organizations, including chambers of commerce and cultural associations. But note: these referrals must be backed by a company culture that promotes and embraces diversity. You must engrain these values into your culture in order to retain this diverse workforce. In one study, 27% of respondents said they left their job due to discrimination in the workplace.
3. Utilize artificial intelligence in screening software to remove unconscious bias from the equation
Utilizing artificial intelligence in automated interviews ensures that racial and other types of bias are removed from the process. Using skills assessment compared across industries and specific roles, AI technology can find the candidates with the best skills fit regardless of their accent or skin color.
This means recruiters don’t have to narrow the field based on their own assumptions and—at times—biases. They now have the bandwidth to screen all the candidates recommended to them by the technology as being the best fit in personality and skills for the position. As such, minority candidates get the same opportunity as the majority group in the screening process: if they perform well, they have a good chance of getting the job.
By following these three tips, you will be well on your way to recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce within your company. If you want to introduce AI-backed video interviewing software to your company and improve your diversity hiring, schedule a live demo of Appliqant’s platform today.
Also, feel free to contact us at enamix.com or explore our website for more information.