It’s easier said than done, but here are a few quick tips to help employers reduce unconscious bias when hiring Gen Z talent:
Understand and identify different types of unconscious bias
Educate employees to promote objective decision-making
Adjusting your hiring process and selection criteria can quickly reduce unconscious bias
Seek applicants via diverse channels and using a range of content formats
Build a structured process that tests applicants against key behavioural competencies
Utilise free and paid tools that can help support your DEI strategy
Simply, unconscious bias is when we make a judgment based on assumptions, prior experience, or opinions, without being aware that we are doing it.
Ironically, many of us tend to believe that we are less prejudiced than the next person but this in itself could be an effect of attribution bias - the tendency to explain a person's behaviour by referring to their character rather than any situational factor.
There are many different types of unconscious bias. Here are five of the most common examples displayed in hiring practices.
This is just a small sample, although there are many more types of unconscious bias for us to be aware of when hiring.
Side note: If you are consciously aware of your biases, you need more professional help than what I have time for with this blog.
Everyone has unconscious biases. Although they can have a significant impact on a person’s decision-making, most people are not consciously aware of their biases.
For most of us, who are interested in reducing our biases, it can be tough because we simply aren’t aware of them. The following 4 steps are far easier said than done, but can have a big impact on reducing unconscious bias:
Reducing unconscious bias in hiring processes presents different challenges because processes are often well-established and it can be tough to know where to start. However, with small adjustments, you can dramatically reduce unconscious biases in processes. Here are some examples of what you can do today:
Let’s look at typical selection criteria to reduce 100 applications down to a more manageable number to interview:
I’m not saying that education or experience doesn’t matter. Of course, it matters. But it’s far less important when hiring entry-level talent.
Many of the world’s best companies (Google, Apple, EY, to name a few) have removed a need for a degree in an aim to promote a more diverse workforce. This allows us to focus on what matters:
Soft skills (communication, teamwork, work ethic, etc)
Key behavioural competencies (personality, attitude, interests, etc)
Let’s say an applicant is well-aligned with the company's mission and culture. They are incredibly passionate about the work they would be doing. And because of their commitment, it would take half the time to teach them new skills that it would anybody else. Would you really avoid hiring that person because someone else went to a “better” uni and has a 12-week internship under their belt?
The Horns Effect means that we make a negative judgment about someone based on a single negative characteristic, such as a 2.2. But we’ve seen time and time again that many people with a 2.2 weren’t able to devote as much time to their studies because they were working full-time, supporting ill family members, starting a business, etc.
Often, when employers come to GradSmart, we see that they have found a couple of channels that work and have stuck with them… which makes sense. Especially when too many channels can result in even more applications to review.
However, it’s difficult to attract a diverse group of applicants by focusing on a narrow group of channels. By broadening your talent attraction channels, you automatically broaden your talent pool. Here are a few examples of channels you can utilise, some of which you will likely already be using:
As well as utilising a range of channels, it’s crucial to use diverse language and types of content. Here are some things to consider when putting together job-related content:
Language - ‘gender-coded’ language in adverts is a relatively recent concept that explores the use of masculine or feminine words in job adverts. Research shows that male-coded language puts women off from applying, whereas female-coded language doesn’t put men off.
There are a range of tools online that allow you to ‘gender decode’ your job adverts.
Types of Content - how people respond to content is widely researched within sales and marketing. Whether it’s long-form content, infographics, video, or any other type of content, we understand that different people respond better to different types of content. So by definition, if we start utilising different types of content, we can reach a wider audience.
Promote Your Culture as mentioned previously, Gen-Z talent is very focused on your culture.
Instead of focusing purely on the job description, boast about your existing employees and company culture. Make it obvious to prospective employees that you want to hire people from diverse backgrounds to drive diverse applications.
Adjust Selection Criteria - I know we’ve already been over this. But it’s important to describe your selection criteria to prospective employees. We’ve all seen those entry-level roles that ask for a First in a certain field and 3 years of experience… Instead, focus on the key competencies for the role, whilst promoting diversity in backgrounds.
Now, it’s important to make sure that interviews don’t become too robotic. After all, there’s a reason that we don’t fully automate hiring processes… we need the human element. That being said, a structured and repeatable is imperative to reduce unconscious bias.
There is a range of factors that can determine what selection process you should implement. What level of experience are you looking for? What key competencies are you looking for? Do you receive too many or too few applications? Whilst customising your selection process to suit your unique circumstance, here are a few things to keep in mind:
We have to accept that it’s difficult to remove all biases in hiring. But, by reducing it, we can continue to strive toward the benefits of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce. We can benefit from the diversity in ideas, mindsets, and perspectives. We can benefit from a company filled with empowered employees working towards a common goal.
GradSmart’s platform allows you to look beyond a standard CV, giving us more criteria to build into our selection process. Our platform and wider service were built with diversity in mind. As well as helping you hire for culture, we are committed to supporting your growth and DEI strategy.
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