Unconscious bias is a big problem for many businesses as it can unknowingly affect their
recruitment, promotions and performance management processes. Unconscious bias refers to the ingrained set of assumptions every human being has, they are learned stereotypes that are universal, unintentional and require effort and education to dispel.
Some of the most impactful unconscious biases experienced when recruiting include:
Confirmation bias, a tendency to find ways to justify new information so that it confirms existing beliefs and assertions. Often a small feature on a CV will colour the reader’s opinion of them and then all interview questions will seek to confirm that opinion or belief.
Personal similarity bias, a preference to interview and hire people who most closely resemble your own professional CV, or educational background.
The halo effect, is when your first impressions create a favourable perception of a candidate’s ability to the job well. This can lead to unqualified but charming individuals getting jobs that others would be more suitable for.
3 ways unconscious bias in recruitment can impact your business
Many companies are looking to dispel unconscious bias in their hiring teams through education and ongoing training as unconscious biases can unintentionally lead to a homogenous work culture and environment.
Here are three ways that this can negatively impact business:
Qualified candidates can be disregarded
Unconscious bias can mean that many competent and promising candidates are overlooked due to their race, age, educational background and much more because they don’t resonate exactly with expectations or mirror the interviewer’s own background through confirmation or personal similarity biases.
Unconscious bias creates a less inclusive hiring processes and impedes diversity in the workplace.
A lack of diversity can impact productivity
Diversity refers to having a mixture of ethnicities, religions, cultures, nationalities, genders, sexualities, physical or mental abilities, age, educational and economic backgrounds, and much more. Having this wide range of different backgrounds and perspectives working together in collaboration has been linked to better productivity and, according to a seminal 2015 study by McKinsey, ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to be in the top-performing quartile.
More likely to make an expensive bad hire
Allowing hiring or promotion choices to be influenced by unconscious bias can lead to an employee being promoted or a candidate being hired due to a false impression of their abilities when they are unable to perform the duties of the role. Making this kind of mistake is an expensive drain on a company and can lead to having to restart the hiring process.
How can using AI in the hiring process solve this?
‘AI’ refers to ‘artificial intelligence’ and machine learning for automated processes. It is largely used for analysing large amounts of data. In recruitment it can be used to process and screen thousands of job applications and CVs in a fraction of the time it would take a human and can reduce unconscious bias in the following ways:
Removing unconscious bias when screening candidates creating a more inclusive process
Due to the way its algorithms can be adjusted, AI can be used to reduce the effects of unconscious bias often applied to candidate’s names, research has shown that candidates with English-sounding names are 40% more likely to be asked to interview than other ethnic names.
AI also reduces the likelihood of biases made towards educational or economic backgrounds and can more objectively assess relevant experience to find the most qualified candidates.
Removing unconsciously biased language from job postings
The language of a job posting can be easily be gendered or use too much technical jargon resulting in fewer women or people from different educational backgrounds applying for roles.
AI software can conduct analysis to identify you candidate segmentation which will give you insight into who’s applying for your roles and where some adjustments may need to be made.
However, AI is not entirely free from unconscious bias. As the algorithms are made by people with unconscious bias, sometimes these are present in the way the AI operates. Human monitoring and frequent checks are required to make sure all AI is continuing to be objective towards your talent pool.
At Edward Mann we can help you shape an inclusive recruitment strategy. Through our database and deep networks we are able to source high-calibre temporary, interim or permanent candidates from diverse backgrounds to suit the specific needs of your business and create an inclusive workplace. We also have the expertise to advise you on how best to leverage AI to create an inclusive hiring process.