One of the biggest hindrances to building an inclusive and diverse organization is selection bias during recruitment. Recruiters rarely go into the screening and hiring process, intending to be biased. Unfortunately, even those with the best intentions have unconscious prejudices regarding race, age, gender, sexual orientation, and so on. To avoid this, you should educate your recruitment team on the impacts of selection bias and how to prevent it so that your company doesn’t miss out on talent. Here’s how:
Assemble a diverse panel of resume screeners
The law of attraction suggests that like attracts like. The concept doesn’t only apply to romantic relationships but all human connections in general. We tend to instantly like people when we discover we share similar interests, same backgrounds, etc. A recruiter from X university may come across a resume from an applicant also from X university and immediately form a positive opinion about them. Another recruiter may screen a resume to discover the applicant is from their hometown and instantly favor that person.
Our unconscious tendency to prefer people who have something in common with us can lead to biases that lead to missed opportunities. To avoid this, assemble a panel of resume screeners from different backgrounds. They may not even be part of the recruitment team but reliable employees from other departments who can fit resume screening into their schedule.
Train selection panel to make objective assessments
Communicate the message of diversity and inclusivity to the recruitment panel, so they understand the goal. Educate them on how to assess resumes objectively. The panel should only focus on the specific skills and competencies needed for the role.
Best practice would be to give the panel edited versions of the candidates’ resumes; their photos should be removed, and only the relevant qualifications should remain. The reality is that most people are easily distracted by pictures on their resumes, judging physical appearance more than skills and experience. Some organizations striving to be highly diverse and inclusive go as far as having job seekers fill out application forms that don’t include what school they graduated from, their gender, marital status, birth date, and the like.
Establish a feedback process
Another unconscious tendency of most people is to conform to the majority. We tend to agree with others’ opinions to avoid conflict and confrontation, especially if we don’t feel personally impacted. During a panel interview, it’s common to see an outspoken panelist express their opinion with no hesitation; an introverted or apathetic panelist may simply agree to prevent a debate.
If you are serious about building a diverse and inclusive organization, you should pivot away from the traditional method of panel interviews. Interviewers should be trained to make relevant assessments when evaluating candidates without sharing their opinions and feedback with fellow interviewers. The feedback should be collected and reviewed by a separate decision-maker.
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