How to avoid hiring bias and encourage diversity in your workplace

Orla Hodnett
Orla Hodnett

Diversity is key in building a winning team. So how do you ensure you’re attracting a broad spectrum of employees?

Diversity benefits any organisation. A greater exchange of different ideas and approaches will improve the way your organisation works, achieving greater levels of creativity, insight, as well as perception.  An organisation with a good level of diversity attracts high calibre applicants, who thrive in such environments. Diversity also improves retention, workplace culture and consequently, branding.

Beyond just added bonuses, diversity is absolutely necessary in a globalised market.

A good level of diversity is essential to keep compliant with employment legislation, among them being EEOC compliance. You can improve your hiring process by making decisions on the hard evidence available to you. Here’s a few things to consider to avoid hiring bias.

1. Gravitation to similarity

If things are working well, we put it down to our way of doing things and our unique approach. This isn’t necessarily wrong, but it does result in us gravitating towards people who work the same way as ourselves, or those who share similar values. Things may work well this way, but progression is generated by difference.

Diversity

CEOs from some of the largest organisations globally are pointing to the significance of diversity to growth and innovation, so to achieve diversity is essential to maintain levels of growth. Research shows that we have a tendency to gravitate to those who share our views and have an unfounded level of trust towards them. When overviewing applications, reconsider what has drawn you to particular candidates.

2. Stereotyping and effective heuristic

Have you ever questioned the commitment or professionalism of a candidate with tattoos? Or a candidate with piercings? And how did this relate to their CV, experience or skill set. With the expectations of behaviour and presentation in a professional environment, it happens that our own tendency to associate appearance with behaviours gets in the way.

Achieving diversity is often much more than ensuring equality and a broader profile of employees – new skills and attitudes could change your organisation for the better

Furthermore, many organisations will still show preference to male candidates for technical roles, despite studies clearly showing that female employees perform at an equal level. Traditionally held views can hold a recruiter back from considering experienced individuals. You should assess candidates based on application and interviewing to ensure that top quality candidates don’t slip through the cracks.

3. Feeling challenged or intimidated

If a candidate seems to challenge your way of doing things, it may be unsettling. When assessing a candidate, try to ascertain whether this anxiety is misplaced. Is this really a threat or does it offer an opportunity for innovation?

If a candidate has greater technical skills or knowledge, it may feel that a threat is being posed, where in fact there is the chance to modernise your organisation. When hiring, consider these aspects carefully, so as not to miss out on any opportunity to grow your company. Achieving diversity is often much more than ensuring equality and a broader profile of employees; new skills and attitudes could change your organisation for the better.

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