Inclusive Recruitment Best Practice: The part Unconscious Bias plays
30th June 2016
Unconscious bias is now widely recognised as an important concept in the implementation of equality and diversity strategies. Whilst this is a positive move in itself the recognition of unconscious will not necessarily change behaviours especially when decisions about people are made.
That is why recruitment must have unconscious bias training as part of the process. Otherwise, the whole recruitment process can be a waste of time and even pose a risk to businesses that aren’t aware of unconscious bias creeping into their recruitment practices.
It takes an extremely disciplined person to firstly accept their own conscious and unconscious biases and an even more determined one to go against the prevailing culture and mindsets in organisations where decision making may be predicated on the maintenance of current systems and processes.
An example of this would be attaching skills and abilities to someone because they studied at or worked for a particular institution. How many times have you looked over a CV and favoured one candidate over another just because of the university they studied at or the course they took was similar to yours?
That is unconscious bias in action and it’s easy to see how it can creep into the recruitment, especially when you’re busy with your day job to pay full attention to the recruitment process. But you owe it to your candidates and your employer to ensure that you recognise unconscious bias when you see it.
How much time do you give yourself and your team when deadlines are looming to recognise that unconscious maybe at work? Do you predominantly revert to the path of least resistance so you can get a decision made and move on?
How to recognise unconscious bias in recruitment
Taking the time to recognise unconscious bias in your organisation will help dramatically change the recruitment culture at your organisation. Here’s how.
Firstly, you need to recognise you or your company have an issue. Only once you recognise unconscious bias can you then take action to rectify any unfairness in your behaviours and decision making.
To do this effectively you need support from your organisation to be fair and transparent in decision making. Otherwise unconscious and conscious bias will continue to influence the decisions that impact on people.
Secondly, there are a range of social and economic questions that you can ask yourself and your organisation that could focus on thinking about different approaches to unconscious bias.
Here are a few to get you started:
- Do you have unconscious bias regarding the social and economic standing of people?
- How much importance is attached unconsciously to the way people talk, dress and interact with others?
- Do you have unconscious biases towards certain institutions, either positive or negative?
- What impacts do these have on the way we behave and make decisions when it comes to recruiting?
Free inclusive recruitment resources
If you’re looking to bring inclusive recruitment best practice into your organisation but are not sure where to begin, there are a range of free resources to help get you started:
For example, here’s an overview from our unconscious bias course to give you a taster, but if you want a complimentary video scenario on unconscious bias in recruitment, please contact us.
Here are some other resources to help you start with inclusive recruitment best practice:
- Inclusive Recruitment Guide – University of St Andrews
- The Inclusive workplace: Recruitment – CGIAR Library
- How to Conduct Diverse Recruitment – Business in the Community