Unconscious bias, also known as implicit bias, refers to assumptions or judgements made about a certain group of people without realizing it. These biases can be related to race, religion, abilities, gender, or any other characteristic about an individual. It is often present in day-to-day decisions and interactions and can have major implications on an organization when implicit bias is present during the recruiting and hiring process.
How Does Unconscious Bias Impact the Workplace?
The cost of workplace bias in the US is projected at $64 billion annually because of what is involved in losing and replacing employees due to unfair practices and discrimination. Unconscious bias in the workplace can hurt an organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion, which can unknowingly shape an organization’s culture. When implicit bias exists, it creates obstacles to equal opportunities throughout the recruiting, hiring, and promotion processes. Women are less likely to be hired or promoted to manager positions, the numbers below show the disparity between men and women in positions above entry-level.
How can you reduce your bias in hiring?
Everyone is capable of unconscious bias, but we can all take steps to reduce it as much as possible. Taking steps to avoid unconscious bias at your organization will have benefits for not only your new candidates but for your team as a whole. Here are some ideas for removing bias during your recruiting and hiring processes:
1. Update Job Descriptions
Review your job descriptions and postings for any potential bias in wording or qualifications. Making changes, including removing gender-biased wording – such as masculine words like active, competitive, and driven – can help you attract more female applicants.
2. Have a Defined Process for Evaluating Applications
Making sure that every applicant is evaluated the same way, using the same list of skills and requirements can help remove bias from the hiring process. Having all candidates complete a work sample test can be another way to evaluate them based on the quality of work, and it can often be the best indicator of how well they will perform in their job.
3. Use a Diverse Interview Panel
When interviewing candidates, have a diverse group of people take part in the interview process, whether that is as part of a panel or doing multiple interviews with different people. The interviewers should represent different groups and departments from within your organization.
4. Utilize tools and technology
Look into technology and tools that can remove bias by removing human involvement in some of the steps. The applicant tracking system, PinPointHQ, has a blind recruiting feature that anonymizes applications and resumes, allowing you to evaluate each resume based only on skills and experience.
GapJumpers is an organization that works with companies to evaluate their existing processes for bias and then implement a solution using their blind hiring tool.
5. Set goals for building diversity
Spend time to define what diversity means to your organization and determine what groups are underrepresented. Once you’ve completed that task, set metrics for your company to achieve. Ensure that metrics are created for all steps of the recruiting and hiring process, from the talent pool to the final decision.
Reducing Unconscious Bias During the Background Check
Hiring a new employee often includes a background check post-offer. Traditional background screening organizations and processes can be a barrier for some people looking for a job. A background check is typically used to screen candidates out of the hiring process and some processes involved in online criminal record checks can automatically be biased against different groups. New technology has been developed that is designed to remove bias indifferent steps of the background check process.
The ScreeningCanada technology aims to screen candidates into the hiring process instead of out. We want to help people get hired by removing unconscious bias in many of our processes and within the platform itself.
ID Verification is required as per RCMP policy when completing a criminal record check online. This process has traditionally created unconscious bias towards certain individuals. 20% of Canadians fail the Electronic ID Verification process because of reasons such as being new to Canada or being too young to have a credit history.
To eliminate these implicit biases, ScreeningCanada created LiveVideoID, a police-approved technology that has trained, bilingual agents instantly verify candidates' IDs through a secure video conference and are available 7 days a week. Our mobile optimized technology also eliminates the need for a candidate to travel to a Canada Post location or the need for hiring managers to spend time verifying ID.
2. Automated Adjudication of Results
Adjudication occurs when an individual’s criminal history is evaluated against a company’s hiring policy around criminal records and convictions. Automated adjudication takes the human bias out of the process.
To setup an adjudication policy, define what you are looking for within the results of background checks. Consider the severity and nature of the offense, the time elapsed since the crime was committed and/or sentence served, and the nature of the position you are hiring for. Remember to keep this policy relevant to the position and role that candidates are applying for. Once you have a list of offence types and other considerations, such as how recent the conviction is, and have them set out for each position, you have an adjudication policy in place.
ScreeningCanada can add your adjudication rules to your account, and any results returned as part of the criminal record check will automatically be checked against these rules and marked accordingly. This will remove the chance of unconscious bias affecting the hiring decisions while still allowing the criminal record check results to be returned in minutes.
Background checks through ScreeningCanada help your organization reach its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion goals. With our technology, we can increase the number of candidates completing a background check and therefore, reduce candidate drop-off. This is an important step in increasing the available talent pool as well as giving everyone an equal opportunity for a job. If you’re interested in learning more about how ScreeningCanada can help you, reach out to one of our product experts here.
For more tips on improving your organization’s hiring process, check out the Top 25 Workplace Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Resources for HR Professionals.