I am dripping with bias. So are you. From affinity bias to confirmation bias, we are all prone to filtering our decisions through the lens of our personal biases. It is normal…and it is not okay in a hiring process.
In the United States, hiring bias is significant. The rates of several measures of hiring bias have gone unchanged since 1989. Progress is stagnant.
Hiring bias starts before the interview. The minute that resume hits your inbox, your unconscious bias turns on.
“Oh look, we went to the same college! Roll tide!”
“Oh, we have the same last name and we’re from the same state. I wonder if we are distant relatives.”
“So many letters! How do you say this name out loud?”
“He graduated college in 1976? How OLD is this guy?”
You make judgments about people without even realizing it. As soon as you have information about their personal life, your biases step in. This is normal. Sometimes our biases actually help us make good choices. But often, they lead to unintended (or intended) discrimination.
As leaders dedicated to justice and peace, we can take active steps to change our process of recruiting and interviewing candidates to drastically decrease hiring bias.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Diversify Your Hiring Team
When it is time to vet resumes and interview candidates ask yourself, “who is in the room?” I always advocate for hiring teams. Nobody should be hiring alone, there is an excellent chance that hiring bias will be prevalent.
Ensure that you have a diverse team of individuals on your hiring team, even if it is just three people. Bring in people from different levels of the organization who will represent diverse perspectives.
As a leader, be aware of how much space you are taking up in the room. Listen to the other people you invited to the team. You will learn so much from them and they will guide you well.
2. Update Your Job Descriptions
Review your job descriptions for gender preferences, ableism, racism, and other limiting factors. When you list the physical requirements of the job, ask yourself – are all of them are actually true? If there are reasonable accommodations you can make for an employee with a mobility limitation, for example, can you make note of that?
Your job descriptions should reflect an inclusive culture. Have the people who actually work in the positions you are hiring for edit and give feedback on the job descriptions for those positions during their paid work time. (This may mean you need to find a sub to cover them for a short time.) Their feedback will help you to ensure that the job description is accurate. Tell them that one of your goals is to use their feedback as a filter for hiring bias. Ask them to look for opportunities to make the description more inclusive.
3. Grow Your Future Leaders
Schools often develop predictable patterns related to staffing. For instance, if you know you replace a lead teacher about once every three years, be sure you have an assistant teacher in the pipeline ready to send to school and intern every three years. If diversity in your team is a priority for you, your pipeline should reflect that goal.
Build the team you want by investing in people you hope will commit to your school. Because Black, Latinx, and Indigenous candidates get hired at significantly lower rates than white candidates in the US, look for opportunities to grow your Black, Latinx, and Indigenous staff into leaders.
In order for this strategy to work, you will also need to invest in anti-bias, anti-racist training for everyone in your organization and use that training to adapt your culture and policies.
Eliminating hiring bias isn’t just about meaning to do better, it is about taking decisive action to change the culture, policies, and practices of your program’s past.
What is one step you can take today to eliminate hiring bias in your organization?
This article by RB Fast first appeared on beelineconsulting.net