What is Bias and Unconscious Bias?
Unconscious (or implicit) bias is a term that describes the associations we hold, outside our conscious awareness and control.
This type of bias can affect how we interact with each other and how we make decisions. Unconscious bias can lead us to make assumptions and judgments about other people based on our background, culture, and personal experiences.
Unconscious bias within recruitment would refer to when hiring managers form an opinion (or opinions) about a candidate which has been formed based solely on initial impressions. One example of this bias is when a hiring manager unconsciously favours a candidate who belongs to the same social group or ethnicity as them, over other candidates who may be more qualified.
Unconscious bias is an ever-present issue in recruitment and can have a huge impact on the diversity of an organisation. It can come in many forms, such as gender or racial bias, and can lead to a lack of diversity in the workplace.
How can I find out if Unconscious Bias is present during my business’s hiring decisions?
One of the most effective strategies for reducing unconscious bias in recruiting is to educate hiring managers about the concept of unconscious bias. This includes understanding the basics as well as being aware of the negative impact it can have on the recruitment process. In addition, it is important for hiring managers to be able to identify unconscious bias before it has an effect on the recruitment process.
The challenge is that we are often unaware of our biases and can't easily control or change them. That's why it's important to be aware of unconscious bias and take steps to identify and address it - by being aware of unconscious bias and understanding its impact, we can take steps to make sure our decisions are based on facts and not on assumptions.
By being aware of and addressing your own unconscious biases, you can create a more equitable and inclusive workplace.
Types of bias to be aware of:
- Gender Bias
- Name Bias
- Beauty Bias
- Halo Effect - When we develop an overall positive impression of someone because of one of their qualities or traits.
- Horns Effect – Opposite to Halo. Negative impression of someone because of one trait or experience.
- Conformity Bias – Changing your opinions to match those of the bigger group even though it doesn’t reflect your own opinion
- Affinity Bias – Favouring people who are similar to you.
- Status Quo Bias – Preference for things to remain as they are. Always hiring from same demographic.
- Anchor Bias – Using the first piece of information you receive as an anchor to base your decision on.
- Authority Bias
- Perception Bias – based on stereotypes
- Recency Bias – Greater importance to more recent events as they are easier to remember.
Why is it important to remove Unconscious Bias from my recruitment process?
By tackling unconscious bias in a recruitment process, organisations can ensure that everyone is given an equal opportunity to be considered for a job. From a culture fit perspective, hiring managers unconsciously tend to hire ‘like-minded people’. People who have the soft skills that represent similar core values. However, as soft skills are hard to assess from a CV, decision makers tend to focus on secondary information such as a first impression of the person during the interview process.
It takes just one-tenth of a second to make a wrong judgement about someone – a fact that makes it no surprise that first impressions can be misleading. Therefore, removing unconscious bias from hiring processes is essential to help organisations create a diverse and inclusive workplace culture. This can lead to increased job satisfaction and productivity, improved employee engagement and retention, and enhanced customer experiences.
Making steps to tackle unconscious bias will bring the following benefits:
- Attracts diverse talent, leading to new and fresh ideas/attitudes
- Fairer decision making and inclusivity
- Encourages creativity and innovation
- Improves employee engagement
- Results in higher levels of productivity
- Increases company revenue
- Supports the implementation and growth of DE&I policies
- A competitive edge over your competitors when it comes to attracting top talent
- Creates an unbiased culture where existing and new employees feel accepted
What can I do to remove unconscious bias from my hiring processes?
Here are several strategies to help mitigate unconscious bias in your hiring process:
Work with Carrot: At Carrot we understand the need to remove bias of any kind from hiring processes and work hard to do so both internally and also on the behalf of our clients. We can also provide help and guidance to improve staff retention, employee engagement and candidate attraction.
Awareness and Training: Begin by raising awareness among all team members involved in the hiring process about the existence and impact of unconscious bias. Conduct regular training sessions or workshops on unconscious bias to help team members recognise and address their biases.
Standardise Job Descriptions: Craft job descriptions that are gender-neutral and free from any biased language. Avoid using words that may attract or deter candidates based on their gender, race, or other personal characteristics. Neutral language in job adverts will help to appeal to a wider range of applicants. Use tools such as “Gender Decoder” https://gender-decoder.katmatfield.com/ to establish which words may have a gender bias.
Blind Recruitment: Implement blind recruitment techniques where candidate information such as names, gender, and photos are removed from resumes or applications during the initial screening phase. This allows for more objective assessment based solely on qualifications.
Structured Interviews: Develop structured interview questions and evaluation criteria in advance, ensuring they are directly related to the job requirements. Use a consistent set of questions for all candidates and evaluate their responses using predefined criteria.
Diverse Interview Panels: Include a diverse group of interviewers to minimise the impact of individual biases. This can help provide different perspectives on candidates.
Use Assessments and Tests: Incorporate skills assessments and job-related tests as part of the hiring process to evaluate candidates objectively. Examples would be to use set questions so everyone has the same chance to demonstrate their capability or introducing “score cards” so that each interviewee is screened equally.
Anonymous Applications: Consider using a platform where candidates can apply anonymously to further reduce the influence of unconscious bias in the initial stages.
Data Collection and Analysis: Keep records of your hiring process to monitor diversity statistics at different stages. Regularly analyse this data to identify any potential bias hotspots in the process.
Feedback and Calibration: Encourage interviewers to provide feedback on their assessments, and regularly review and calibrate the evaluation process to ensure fairness.
Continuous Improvement: Make a commitment to continuously review and improve your hiring process. Seek feedback from candidates and employees to make necessary adjustments.
Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives: Foster a diverse and inclusive workplace culture by implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives. A diverse workplace can help reduce biases over time.
Bias-Mitigating Technology: Explore the use of technology and software designed to reduce bias in the hiring process, such as AI tools that anonymise resumes or analyse interview data for potential bias.
Legal Compliance: Ensure that all your efforts to remove unconscious bias align with local labour laws and regulations. This is also hugely beneficial if you are ever challenges or accused of being biased in your screening or interview stages.
Ready to start removing unconscious bias from your recruitment process?
Truly eliminating unconscious bias can be challenging, but by implementing these strategies and fostering a culture of inclusion, you can significantly reduce its impact on your hiring process and create a more equitable workplace. By regularly assessing and adapting your strategies to stay up-to-date with best practices in diversity and inclusion, you will create a more equitable workplace with a much happier workforce.
At Carrot Recruitment, we are passionate about client and candidate experience, and this is the backbone of everything we do. We hope this article has been helpful and helps you to see the clear benefits of creating a recruitment process that is proactive and progressive against the use of bias . If you are looking to grow your team or need to speak to us about our staffing solutions, please get in touch. We offer a range of permanent and contract recruitment services and can adapt our approach easily to fit with your resourcing requirements.
If you’d like to find out more about anything we’ve discussed, more information can be found in our references below.
Are you looking for new talent within Life Sciences sector?
Carrot Recruitment have over 17 years experience, recruiting across the full Pharma product life cycle. We support clients across all functions, from product development to commercialisation.
We have a deep reach into many niche candidate networks with over 20,000 candidates on our books. Candidates love our approach and work with us throughout their career, which means we have a huge catalogue of top talent at our fingertips.