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Bias and cultural competence in recruitment & selection
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Bias and cultural competence in recruitment & selection



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  • We’ll briefly review what unconscious bias is and its impact on the way we find and hire talent. We’ll look into what biases are involved when we invoke “cultural fit’ in our recruitment and selection processWe’ll explore what we can do to manage bias in the talent acquisition process and system.We’ll identify our biases regarding ‘good cultural fit’ in the context of candidate selection and explore the critical role of intercultural competence in hiring diverse candidates. In other words - how we can help separate a candidate’s behaviors and style points (meaning, his/her communication style, physical & emotional expression) from a his/her potential value to the organization? (Does somebody need to be extroverted or bubbly to be a good fit for our company? Must a person speak highly of themselves in order to be confident? Must someone speak flawless English to be a client-facing individual? How can differences be positives or excellent ways to address our weaknesses and gaps?)
  • We all know the answer to this is true, but why ? Obviously our selection process involves more than the interview, but let’s say in this case it is. (let them answer)
  • Right, try as we might, we are not 100% objectively assessing our talent. We have biases, and tend to be partial towards people who are like us (reference Brafman quote).Bias is partly human biology and partly based on what we’ve internalized from our life lessons. Everybody has biases – regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, or # of PhD’s. We tend to be biased in favor of those who are most like us (“affinity bias”) because commonalities make us feel more comfortable with each other, make us like the other person more, which then, critically, makes us see them as competent, safe, and valuable. Commonalities also spark that unwritten but alarmingly important factor of sensing “a connection” or “chemistry” with a candidate. We’re going to be talking about biases in the context of talent acquisition today and how we can become more aware of them and what can we do to defeat them, leveraging cross-cultural competence tools. Source: OriBrafman = entrepreneur and organizational behavior expert, co-author of book, “Sway”, a book about the psychological forces that lead us to disregard facts or logic and behave in surprisingly irrational ways. Quote refers to research based on 20 years of analysis of almost every psychological study done on interviews.
  • (Acknowledge that many in the audience already know this and be brief.)Brain shortcuts, Evolutionarily Adaptive but also learned:Latest research in brain science = biases make us human and are at least partially hard-wired in us. Our brain wants to be efficient, so it tends to produce ‘shortcuts’ to what is right, wrong or important—before we can consciously make that decision based on objective data (like job performance indicators or a person’s credentials). This is because, as humans, our brains know we have to go out in the world every day to make decisions about what is safe or not. So our brains act quickly to determine whether or not something or someone is safe before we can even begin to consciously think it through. In other words, the brain has an unconscious “danger detector” - when something or someone is assessed to be dangerous, a “fight or flight” fear response occurs. The danger detector taps into our emotions, which take over before we can even being ‘thinking.’ Our sense of comfort or discomfort is automatically engaged. And historically, “different” has meant unsafe or threatening and “like me” has meant safe (think tribes, clans, etc.). Biases were are not a negative trait from a survival standpoint – being able to act on these biases was often a matter of life and death. Cultural environment and life experiences/lessons also play into biases – constant exposure to messages and images that reinforce stereotypes and associations. These ideas and messages are reinforced over and over again by those around us during our formative years and beyond. (The crucial question is, are any of these stereotypes or associations reliable or valid? How many people do you ACTUALLY KNOW that conform to the bias? How many people do you know that DO NOT conform to the bias?)Socially and Organizationally Destructive We may end up unconsciously discriminating against others for potentially irrational reasons (without even realizing it!). We make unconscious judgments about people based on their observable characteristics and behaviors.Perceptual Lens Our unconscious perceptual “lens” drives what we pay attention to and what we ignore. It filters out most things we’re exposed to and lets a select few in, usually those that are currently relevant to us or that we have a connection with (“affinity bias”). What we “let in” depends on the perceptions, preferences and biases that we have adapted throughout our life. This perceptual lens also filters the evidence that we collect, generally supporting our already held points-of-view and disproving points of view with which we disagree (“confirmation bias”). Biases Impact Decision-makingUnconscious bias can infect management decisions throughout the employment life cycle starting with recruitment and interviewing, and continuing with:Expectations around performance and conduct. (micro-inequities, who you give key assignments to, who you promote, who you help, who you introduce to key people, who you are harder on or give more responsibility to, who you forgive and who you give a second chance to ) (“Set Up to Fail Syndrome” – Harvard Business Review)Decisions about promotions, training and other job benefits.Termination and discharge decisions.FROM: LeDoux, J. The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life, New York: Simon and Schuster
  • Look at the picture below of the two tables and see if you can determine which of the tops is longer. Or are they the same size, the same shape? You probably would say: “Obviously they are not the same shape. The one on the left is clearly narrower and longer than the one on the right.” Now what if we were to lay a cutout or tracing of the table on the left over the top of the table top on the right. Which is bigger?
  • That’s right, they are both identical. (This picture was created by Roger Shepard, an Oxford and Stanford University professor.)We often refer to these images as optical illusions, but we’d be more accurate describing them as cognitive illusions, because the illusory experience is not created by our eyes, but by our brain. Shepard says that we’re generally unaware that we’re imposing our own perceptions on the image – so the illusion won’t hit us until we’re informed that what appears to be totally different is in fact identical. When we look at the picture, having no reason to assume that there is an illusion at play, we don’t even consider that we might be seeing something different than what is obviously right in front of us. The problem is that it is not what is right in front of us at all. The bottom line? We make assumptions and determinations about what is real every moment of every day. We sort the information around us, we see what we see, and we believe that what we see is real. Only occasionally do we realize how subjective those determinations are, and how much they are impacted not by what is in front of us, but by what we interpret is in front of us, seen through our own lens on the world. The challenge is that even knowing that we are inherently biased, we may not be able to help ourselves. In other words, our perception is so deeply buried in our “underlying machinery” (our unconscious) that even when we have the knowledge intellectually (about the tables being the same, for ex) it’s still difficult or impossible to see past the illusion.
  • Being aware of our own biases and “cognitive illusions”, and anticipating that others will have them too, are important parts of intercultural competence.We define IC as the ability to navigate your own and others’ worldviews in ways that optimize success. By worldviews we mean our values, behaviors, beliefs, biases, perceptions, and tendencies. Recruiting and selecting with intercultural competence allows us to make hiring decisions that are smarter and more sustainable – we’ll talk about how today.
  • Our connection, experience of, and membership in these groups has influenced and taught us and instilled in us the values, beliefs, behaviors, perceptions, the BIASES that now comprise our worldview. This is where the ideas, messages, and images are reinforced over and over again by those around us that we mentioned earlier come from.The collection of these cultures on our psyche drives our implicit associations.
  • (TPOTS: The best were overlooked in favor of lesser quality candidates likely due to bias).Here are some examples that most of you are probably very aware of – of unconscious bias resulting in faulty decision making. In all cases, giving the people in charge of hiring the musicians and job candidates the benefit of the doubt, their bias was most likely unconscious and rooted in their desire to hire who they perceived as people similar to themselves or people that they somehow felt more comfortable with. The cost to their organizations, however, was that the best were overlooked in favor of lesser quality candidates.1. Blind Auditions: The “Big Five” Orchestras (Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, NY, Philly) didn’t employ more than 12% women until the 1980’s.What: A study published in the American Economic Review found that the blind audition procedure fostered impartiality in hiring and increased the proportion woman in symphony orchestras. Results: Female musicians in the Big Five increased five-fold from 1970 to 2000. Using data from actual auditions, they found that the screen increased by 50% the probability a woman will be advanced out of certain preliminary rounds. The screen also enhances, by severalfold, the likelihood a female contestant will be the winner in the final round. Source: Orchestrating Impartiality: the Impact of “Blind” Auditions on Female Musicians, 94 Am. Econ. Rev. 715 (2000).2. Emily & Greg/Lakisha & Jamal - What: 2500 fictional resumes with ethnically African-American names and 2500 fictional resumes with “white” sounding names were sent out to 1,250 employers for open positions in Chicago and Boston. Half of the resumes in each category were prepared showing highly qualified applicants and the other half as average applicants. Results: people with "white-sounding" names are 50% more likely to get a response to their resume than are those with "black-sounding" names. Even the pool of ‘average’ resumes with white-sounding names received more callbacks than the higher quality resumes of African American names. The results were the same even for those employers who had stated in pre-interviews that they were aggressively seeking diversity. Source: Marianne Bertrand and SendhilMullainathan, Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination, (National Bureau of Economic Rsearch Working Paper #9873, http://www.nber.org/papers/w9873 (2003).3. Name Discrimination in Canada, ‘Why do some employers prefer to interview Matthew, but not Samir?’ Canadian immigrants’ discrimination based on names and city of experience. Canadian-born individuals with English-sounding names are significantly more likely to receive a callback for a job interview after sending their resumes, compared to internationally-born individuals, even among those with international degrees from highly ranked schools or among those with the same listed job experience but acquired outside of Canada. Source: Metropolis British Columbia’s Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Diversity Working Paper #11-13, Philip Oreopoulos and Diane DechiefTransition: So we all have biases. But having biases doesn’t mean we’re bad people…Additional Example: - Yolanda Spivey, who was looking for a job in the insurance industry, ran a one-week experiment last year. She created a duplicate profile with the name Bianca White in her job-search documents and her Monster.com ‘race’ as ‘white’. Other than that, everything else was equal in terms of work experience and educational background. Bianca received 9 phone calls, Yolanda none. (http://www.techyville.com/2012/11/news/unemployed-black-woman-pretends-to-be-white-job-offers-suddenly-skyrocket/)
  • …it just means that we’re human. Knowing we have them, however, gives us an opportunity to manage the ones that we act on, the biases that screen out those who are different, so that we can truly attract and hire the best people. We can exercise our brains to look at for differences not as threats or negatives—but rather, to look for differences and see them as potential positives that present opportunities to make us stronger and better. http://www.gadgetfreak.gr/2013/02/28/first-person-darth-vader/
  • Often when we evaluate a candidate we ask whether that person is a good cultural fit. Ask: What does that mean? (wait for a couple of answers) How many of you have heard that a candidate just “wasn’t a good fit”?
  • People who conform to ‘mainstream’ organizational culture
  • People we feel comfortable with
  • Thethe specific behaviors and style points we’re used to and that we generally prefer, consciously or subconsciously. Good cultural fit tends to be more about behaviors than about the culture or the organizational values themselves.
  • Good cultural fit is often explained or verbalized in the context of organizational or corporate values, principles, and beliefs.
  • So what happens when our organizational culture or values look different than we are used to – behaviorally, visually? Sometimes top talent may look, sound, or behave differently than we’re used to, but may actually share our core values and be excellent candidates and top performers over time. When it comes to putting organizational values into action as hiring managers, it’s important that we understand what specific behaviors and style points we prefer and promote on our teams, why we prefer what we do, and where our preferences may on occasion be an expression of some sort of bias—however unintentional.
  • Scenario: You’re a Midwestdistrict manager for a casual dining restaurant chain. The manager of one of the highest-revenue locations in Chicago will be leaving soon, and you need to find a replacement for her ASAP. Obviously the ideal manager should have extensive experience in hospitality and restaurant management. But to you, what’s even more important are those intangibles – someone you can trust, who will go the extra mile, be there when you need them, and represent the company well. They have to project professionalism, enthusiasm, and confidence. They definitely have to be high-energy and be able to lead and inspire their staff. You’re feeling the pressure though – your current manager’s last day is a short two weeks away. There’s nobody at the moment internally that can fill the role, so you have to look externally. You’ve already heard from quite a few very qualified individuals, with the experience you need. Today, you are interviewing these 11 highly qualified applicants…(scroll through pics…) They’re all highly qualified technically, but as the hiring manager you have to consider - which one would best serve your restaurant’s needs and context? Who would you and your staff feel at their best with? Who would be the best leader, who would be the best face for our restaurant?Preconceived ideas of what we think would indicate someone’s likelihood to be successful—to be a good ‘cultural fit’ with the company and its values. Mothers – assuming that they want to be home with their families at night so not available for dinner hours. Women – assuming women don’t want to be trained in the kitchen.Dreadlocks – that they are not ‘clean’ or that they are associated with drugs and are unprofessional.Hijab – don’t want to make customers ‘uncomfortable’.Older people – Won’t last long, won’t be able to connect as well as a a younger person, not as ‘bubbly’.
  • (Very quickly recap both kinds of biases – the first one has already been alluded to a couple times, though not in depth)Affinity (like me) bias:Leads us to favor people who are like us. That is, people who look like us, sound like us, and behave like us. E.g., people who share our:Educational backgroundSpecific life experiencesSocial class, areas of residence.Interests, hobbies, sports preferences, alma maters, or sororities/fraternities Reminds you of you when you were younger or of someone you admire (includes communication and interpersonal style)Leads us to pay attention to what is important to us in that moment (e.g., you start noticing something “all of a sudden” – like strollers if you’re pregnant or a kind of car that you’re thinking about buying). Unconsciously feeling more comfortable, connected with, and positive towards someone who is like us.With affinity bias, we tend to ignore the faults of people like us and notice more the faults of people from groups we unconsciously don’t like. (IAT research shows that members of stigmatized groups (eg, Black, gay, older people) tend to have more positive implicit attitudes toward their groups than do people outside their group, but there is still a moderate preference for the more socially valued group (i.e., white, straight, younger people) by the stigmatized group.Working and communicating with someone “like you” is much easier, takes less energy and time – you understand and appreciate them much more easily. And hiring someone similar to yourself makes it easier for you to imagine understanding this person, helping them, tolerating and forgiving mistakes, etc.Confirmation bias:Leads us to search for or interpret information that confirms our existing perceptions.Leads decision-makers and other to weight information that confirms excising viewpoints as well as to ignore, discount or be blind to information that may contradict existing perceptions. It filters the evidence that we collect, generally supporting our already held points-of-view and disproving points of view with which we disagree So what does this all mean for your organization from a business and effectiveness standpoint?
  • After clearing slide: So what can we do about it? Transition: To help manage such biases and see each candidate more objectively, with intercultural competence,it’s helpful to use the D.I.N. model…
  • Step 1 is “D” for describe. We need to describe without judgment the behaviors and actions that we observe—those above the waterline. Just the facts.Step 2 is “I” for interpret. After we acknowledge the meaning or interpretation that we assign to what we’re seeing and hearing, we need to explore what blind spots we may have in our interpretations. What other reasonable interpretations are out there? Allow for those. Our interpretations are sometimes biased in favor of what we know, what we’ve experienced first-hand, and what we’ve been taught and rewarded for.Step 3 is “N” for navigate, with strategy that takes into account more than just our own interpretation of events—to ensure we successfully manage our biases and hire the truly best candidate.So when it comes time to navigate, if we don’t manage our biases and learn to tune in to facts and allow for alternate interpretations to what we see, we may end up with improper assessments regarding who is the better candidate. Let’s go through an example…
  • You’re currently in the process of interviewing candidates for a management position in the hospitality industry. You’ve come down to your final two candidates, Mike and Maria.
  • MikeMike firmly shakes your hand as you talk before the interview, you notice he is wearing a class ring from your alma mater, and find out he plays the same sport you do. You quickly process these items as signs that he’s fun and MOTIVATED, and that you have things in common. You think to yourself, “I can see myself working alongside him.” Mike’s tone of voice, easy laugh, and extroverted personality also leave you feeling that he has the potential to make others feel comfortable with him, that he is likely to live up to what PROFESSIONAL means in our culture. The first 5 minutes have gone by, and you find you like Mike and want to hire him.MARIAWhen Maria walks in, she also shakes your hand, but it seems much softer than Mike’s—something you’re perhaps not sure how to interpret. Maria has a big smile and answers all your questions and presents herself and her experience very well during the interview. You want to give her your full and unbiased attention, and you ask her about her current role with your competitor using your interview guide. The truth is you were very taken with Mike, and noticed that Maria is wearing a wedding ring, that prompts you to wonder “How will she handle her travel schedule if she has a family?”, even as you find Maria is presenting herself well.
  • Thinking about the scene with Mike and Maria, let’s apply the D.I.N. model with a quick quiz. Read through each statement and determine which are observable D’s or ‘descriptions’ of what we saw—as opposed to I’s or ‘interpretations’ that assign subjective meaning to what we saw. Remember that with objective “D”-descriptions, we are referring to actual words and actions without judgment, free from any meaning assigned to the behaviors. The rest are interpretations. The assigned meaning is actually an “I” or ‘interpretation’.
  • Being as taken as you were with your earlier interview with Mike—you also failed to explore a few critical things with Maria. For example, you failed to explore the fact that she is looking to be a managing partner some day, and that she has sought out mentors in the industry who have helped her clarify and confirm the hard work and commitment that longevity in foodservice requires. You also failed to explore she is also only two courses away from finishing her Master’s degree in restaurant management, and that she earned that degree while working full time with your competitor.
  • What you did not explore, what you did not see, were two other facts about Mike: that he left his last two jobs because he was not promoted as quickly as he would have liked, and that he sees your position as a stepping stone to his dream job with a hotel chain. You also do not see that he plans to stay less than a year with your team.
  • Where we look: Are we intentionally looking in diverse schools, associations, organizations, job sites, job fairs, etc.? Are we leveraging diverse high performing employees? Or are we on auto-pilot, posting in the usual places, doing the same thing oer and over, expecting different results? How we screenrésumés: Is unconscious bias at play when we see names, addresses, dates (to discern age), schools attended, membership in societies or fraternities/sororities, or even fonts and email addresses on resumes? How about spelling and grammatical errors? I had to teach myself to get over that one, or at least not reject/dismiss someone outright because they spelled something wrong. Who and how many conduct interviews: Are diverse individuals doing interviews? Are different perspectives taken into account in evaluating a candidate? Are interviews conducted solely by HR or solely by senior managers? Interview guides / questions asked: Have the interview guides and questions been audited with the goal of making them as objective and as fair as possible? Is it possible that some questions may be interpreted differently depending on someone’s background or cultural values or tendencies? Could a question be misinterpreted or come across as confusing to a NNES? Evaluation of candidates: (How we rate observable characteristics or behaviors during the interview) Greetings, non-verbals and body language, gender, appearance (body type, hair, clothing, jewelry, body art, etc.), language/accents, parental status, sports/hobbies/interests in common, past experiences (work or personal) in common. Debriefing or discussion interviews with others: Are there mechanisms in place to prevent interviewers from conferring with each other before they have all interviewed and assessed the candidate?
  • (THIS SLIDE IS HIDDEN)Activity: Get in groups of 3 or 4 and discuss for a few minutes. Debrief: Ask 2 or 3 groups to share.
  • Here’s of some that we’ve found that we need to train interviewers on to ensure they ask and evaluate through a D&I lens….especially with varying national cultures.
  • (next slide is a list of ideas that are proven to help manage bias in the talent acquisition process…)
  • (Don’t spend too much time explaining each one – they are in the handout, plus want to give them time to share opinions/experiences)#1 –Hold People Accountable to the Process (not the numbers)A process of applying intercultural competence and a diversity and inclusion lens across the boardTo de-bias talent acquisition processes rather than achieve hiring targets (i.e., quotas), process accountability is likely to provide an effective intervention. Applying an intercultural competence or D&I “lens” to the process also reduces bias without prompting over-correction, yielding a better-qualified pool of selected candidates.Process can include looking for and advertising in a wider and more diverse variety of places (universities, locations, job sites, organizations), having website images of ppl from different backgrounds so candidates are even attracted to you, making sure all recruitment and selection is done from an inclusive lens, auditing interview questions and qualifications to ensure no bias, making sure diverse ppl are interviewing, intentionally making all slates diverse – make sure we have at least x number of women, African-Americans, etc. It gets us used to seeing women and AA’s , etc. in these interviews and in these positions. Getting used to the idea that it’s not so unusual anymore. So over time, it would be highly surprising if you still getting the same results because skills and intelligence are not reserved for certain groups. It may take a few cycles though, as opportunity, access, and visibility equalize. #2 –Expand/modify search footprintUniversities, professional organizations, job sites/fairsCurrent high performing employees of diverse backgroundsEmployee Resource Groups#3 –Conduct Anonymous SurveysEnsure that anonymous employee surveys are conducted company-wide to first understand what specific issues of hidden bias and unfairness might exist at your workplace. Survey existing employees, especially newer ones, about their experience with the hiring process.Informs better talent acquisition process & policy #4—Have Multiple InterviewersUsing multiple interviewers with diverse backgrounds and different perspectives is another way to help ensure that more valid and legally defensible selection decisions are made—and that the impact of any biases held by individuals or groups is minimized. Have a diverse group evaluate each candidate, to minimize the chances of potential cross-cultural misunderstandings.#5 --Blind Applicant ReviewSetting up a blind applicant review system also can help prevent biased selection decisions. As a way to counter this bias, hide the names and addresses (and even schools and personal interests) of applicants before circulating resumes. #6 –Review the Acquisition Life Cycle Review every aspect of the employment life cycle for hidden bias.Be aware of different cultural norms and styles (in yourself and in others), and:Audit job and competency descriptions, interview guides, and interview questions for bias. Are they truly neutral?Navigate interviews and selection with intercultural competence (more on this later)Implement mechanisms that prevent interviewers from conferring prior to meeting/evaluating candidatesHave a safe and open process for bringing up instances where unconscious bias may be at play
  • Ask: How many of you have heard these statements? (raise your hand)Ask: How do YOU typically respond to those statements?Usually the implied message here is that, at least partly, “our standards” tends to include this idea of cultural fit, which is influenced by our unconscious biases. When someone doesn’t fulfill the exact same criteria the way that they always have (the specific combination of experience, skill set, behavioral interpretations), we may not be able to imagine alternatives or not be able to expand our range of possibilities for that job or that role. So how can we modify the job criteria? How can we reconcile the “cultural fit” with behaviors and attributes that aren’t what we’re used to? How can differences in “style” or in “cultural fit” that may automatically be seen as negatives actually be positives for the organization?Answer:We think that a good start is introducing intercultural competence into the hiring and selection process - separating above the waterline characteristics and behaviors from below-the-waterline values (the truly important stuff). Transition: What are some of your organizations’ below the waterline values? What do you hire for? (go to next slide)
  • Ask: What are 3 characteristics that you look for in people in your organization? What are some of the things you hear managers saying that are most important to them? (give them one minute)Possible Answers: High-energy, smart, professional, driven, confident, self-starter, flexible, good leader, problem-solver, good communicator, enthusiastic, passionate, positive attitude. Have participants share their characteristics. Participants can learn what’s important to different companies/organizations around them… (FYI: top 3 personality traits employers hire for, according to Forbes.com reporting on a study by Stockholm-based Universum that surveyed 1,200 of the world’s biggest employers, are: professionalism, high-energy, and confidence.)
  • These are some characteristics that some companies use – commonly known as the SWAN (Smart, Work hard, Ambitions, Nice). They may sound simple, and some people may use ‘better-sounding’ synonyms for them, but can anyone argue that the following characteristics are not desirable?How are these values typically demonstrated in your organizations? It would be interesting to hear from several of you, from diverse industries…Work Hard Example**Raise-hand Poll: Unpaid internship vs. paying their way through school: which one shows “works hard” better? What is something ‘under the waterline’ about unpaid internships that may be at play here? This person is being supported somehow – i.e, they can afford to take an unpaid internship. Not to say that they don’t work hard, but it’s something to think about. Other examples: Work hard = working 60 hrs week, weekends. Ambitious = traveling all over the world at the drop of a hat. Nice = bubbly, extroverted. Smart = can act like they know what they’re talking about on the spot.How are these demonstrated in your organizations? Do we have a diverse range of industries here?Let’s play a short video produced by Canada based TRIEC (Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council) where the hiring manager, Henry, asks a couple of question to an India-born immigrant to Canada (Tarek Khan), a professional seeking a position as project manager. Henry’s colleague, Dana, is also interviewing Tarek and sits next to Henry.
  • (Start video at 1:38)Henry will ask Tarek two questions in two different scenes – one about how Tarek views making risky decisions and one about Tarek’s interests outside working hours. How do our assumptions about “good fit” or “one of us” exclude some talents and skills that could really benefit the company? CouldTarek’s language skills and understanding of the Muslim community be an asset? Might he be available to entertain clients on Saturdays or even Sundays – at a hockey game for example?We’re going to see Part 2 of this video later, to see how intercultural competence was applied in this hiring situation.
  • First, think about the values or coveted characteristics you came up with earlier – or of SWAN. Can you think of a great candidate that didn’t quite satisfy one or more of those? Or a different one? What were the characteristics that caused you to be unsatisfied? Give a few minutes, then take a couple of shares.(Doing this activity will start to clarify who the organization or company is tending to “kick out” because they’re not “a good fit.”)
  • We have an example that we encountered once, a FI in the Midwest, involving communication style and cultural fit. Who can tell me about communication and demeanor style differences, in general, between Midwest and NE (particularly NY) regions? How would a Midwesterner experience a Manhattan banker? How would a Manhattan banker experience a Midwest one? OK so here’s what happened. A Midwest bank whose culture included communicating in more indirect ways (e.g., phrasing demands as questions, inviting people's compliance rather than demanding it, adding softening phrases to take the edge off an otherwise direct command) hired a group of NY senior leaders, as one of their strategic goals was to compete with these big northeast banks. Turns out they left, in large part because they weren’t “fitting into the culture”, they weren’t made to feel comfortable there because they were deemed “Not a good fit”. They were perceived as obnoxious, blunt, aggressive. But given the Midwest Bank’s goals, wouldn’t this style be something that they could have actually benefited from? Especially given these leaders’ other talents? They were denying entry to people who were perceived as not “a good cultural fit” but AT WHAT COST?
  • We have an example that we encountered once, a FI in the Midwest, involving communication style and cultural fit. Who can tell me about communication and demeanor style differences, in general, between Midwest and NE (particularly NY) regions? How would a Midwesterner experience a Manhattan banker? How would a Manhattan banker experience a Midwest one? OK so here’s what happened. A Midwest bank whose culture included communicating in more indirect ways (e.g., phrasing demands as questions, inviting people's compliance rather than demanding it, adding softening phrases to take the edge off an otherwise direct command) hired a group of NY senior leaders, as one of their strategic goals was to compete with these big northeast banks. Turns out they left, in large part because they weren’t “fitting into the culture”, they weren’t made to feel comfortable there because they were deemed “Not a good fit”. They were perceived as obnoxious, blunt, aggressive. But given the Midwest Bank’s goals, wouldn’t this style be something that they could have actually benefited from? Especially given these leaders’ other talents? They were denying entry to people who were perceived as not “a good cultural fit” but AT WHAT COST?
  • We have an example that we encountered once, a FI in the Midwest, involving communication style and cultural fit. Who can tell me about communication and demeanor style differences, in general, between Midwest and NE (particularly NY) regions? How would a Midwesterner experience a Manhattan banker? How would a Manhattan banker experience a Midwest one? OK so here’s what happened. A Midwest bank whose culture included communicating in more indirect ways (e.g., phrasing demands as questions, inviting people's compliance rather than demanding it, adding softening phrases to take the edge off an otherwise direct command) hired a group of NY senior leaders, as one of their strategic goals was to compete with these big northeast banks. Turns out they left, in large part because they weren’t “fitting into the culture”, they weren’t made to feel comfortable there because they were deemed “Not a good fit”. They were perceived as obnoxious, blunt, aggressive. But given the Midwest Bank’s goals, wouldn’t this style be something that they could have actually benefited from? Especially given these leaders’ other talents? They were denying entry to people who were perceived as not “a good cultural fit” but AT WHAT COST?
  • Invite Jodi to talk about her experience with P&B’s and cultural fit. Also ask participants for theirs.Assuming that candidates “should know that” (unwritten internal rules and norms)Associating accents with lower communication skillsAssociating hairstyle/fashion choices that are outside the organizational norm with unprofessionalismAssociating top talent exists only in certain schoolsAssuming different geographical background will create disconnects (i.e., a “big city” leader coming into a “small town” company or vice versa)
  • In this scene, Henry and his colleague debrief the candidates and decide who to extend an offer to. Watch how Dana uncovers many of Henry’s blind spots and helps him navigate Tarek’s evaluation with intercultural competence.Henry:No Canadian experienceHe’s not JeffA boatload of differencesA lot riding on this, got to be able to count on this person, trust him with my life Doesn’t present like one of usDidn’t answer question about a risky decisionDana:Called Bangalore professorJeff had similar holesHas a lot of international experienceCan be coachedRisky decision question was confusing Gave us an unscripted answer, giving a pat answer doesn’t mean they‘ll do a good jobI think he is one of usPost-interview debriefing and offer: Interview Guides clip – 2:03-4:52
  • Evaluating with intercultural competence doesn’t mean letting go of your standards, but it does mean evaluating a situation or a person without judgment (at least temporarily) and assuming positive intent. As my friend and fellow D&I practitioner likes to say, “with an open heart and willingness to learn.” Incorporating cross cultural competence into our hiring practices is an effective way of evaluating talent from a more objective and realistic point of view – a point of view that will put you in a much better position to correctly assess the true strengths and benefits that this person will bring to your organization. And it will help broaden the view – the whole landscape (the wide lens, the panoramic lens)- of possibilities available as far as how this person can plug organizational gaps or open unforeseen opportunities.
  • Don’t accept “not a good fit” as a given. Try to debunk cultural fit, it may be true but I want you to challenge it.Ask for the specific behaviors!What if they are a perfect fit. Imagine they are, how can that be true? We need to own that discomfort and see if you can get used to it because we may gain so much more from what they bring. I may not be that way, it may not feel natural or comfortable to me, but if you had a lot of it around you all the time, it may not seem that unnatural anymore and it may even become ‘normal’ and part of ‘how things are.’ What if everyone in the office had dreadlocks? Or spoke with an Indian accent? Or was of a different gender than what is typical in your organization? Or was gay? Or transgender?Track the positive results of hiring people who had characteristics that were not a “good cultural fit”. People naturally remember when differences fail (“remember that one time when we hired Kathy and she ended up not coming back after she had her baby just a year after we hired her?”) but they have a blind spot regarding when differences succeed.
  • Remind them of the handout again


  • 1. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCBias and Cultural Competence inRecruitment & Selection
  • 2. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCPresenters
  • 3. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCAgenda
  • 4. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLC#1unconscious biases: ArECAP
  • 5. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCTrue or False?
  • 6. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCTrue or False?
  • 7. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLC
  • 8. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCWhich is Longer?
  • 9. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCWhich is Longer?
  • 10. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCIntercultural Competence••
  • 11. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCWe all belong to different „cultures‟ atonceGeneration/AgeEducationalbackgroundRace/Ethnicity/National CulturalBackgroundReligiousaffiliationGender Identityand SexualOrientationWorkexperiences(industry, roles,tenure)ParentalStatus/Family lifeOrganizationalCulture
  • 12. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCUnconscious bias: applications
  • 13. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLC
  • 14. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLC#2The impact ofunconscious biases:“cultural fit”?
  • 15. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCWhat‟s a„good cultural fit‟?
  • 16. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCWhat‟s a„good cultural fit‟?
  • 17. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCWhat‟s a„good cultural fit‟?
  • 18. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCWhat‟s a„good cultural fit‟?
  • 19. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCWhat‟s a„good cultural fit‟?
  • 20. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCWhat‟s a„good cultural fit‟?
  • 21. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCBias works behind the scenes,as we take in…••••••••••••
  • 22. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCBias & Business Impact
  • 23. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCBias & Business Impact
  • 24. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCDescribe(Observe withoutjudgment)Interpretfrom your perspective(How do you see thesebehaviors?)Navigate(Strategize andact to take intoaccount differentinterpretations)Interpretfrom their perspective(How do they see thesebehaviors?)The D-I-N Model
  • 25. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCThe Better Candidate?Hiring ManagerCandidate #1:Mike Candidate #2:Maria
  • 26. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCApplying the D-I-N Model
  • 27. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCApplying the D-I-N Model
  • 28. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLC•••Candidate Debrief
  • 29. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLC•••Candidate Debrief
  • 30. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLC#3What you can do tomanage bias in talentacquisition
  • 31. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCBias in the candidate search &review process?© 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLC
  • 32. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCQuestions with potentially culturally-influenced answers
  • 33. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCHow can we change somethingthat‟s unconscious?•––
  • 34. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLC“Retooling” ourBiases#4Ensure multipleinterviewers#2Expand/modify searchfootprint#3ConductAnonymousSurveys#6Review theAcquisition LifeCycle#5Implement blindapplicant review system#1Hold PeopleAccountable tothe Process
  • 35. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLC#4Reconciling„cultural fit‟ with talentacquisition goals
  • 36. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCRaise Your Hand if You‟veHeard This Before
  • 37. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLC1 2 3What do you hire for?
  • 38. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCCoveted Characteristics: SWAN
  • 39. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLC“Fit with the rest of us”: Part 1
  • 40. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCActivity
  • 41. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLC•Cultural Fit: Example
  • 42. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLC•Cultural Fit: Example
  • 43. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLC••––Cultural Fit: Example
  • 44. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCCultural Fit: Examples•
  • 45. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLC“Fit with the rest of us”: Part 2
  • 46. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCHiring withIntercultural Competence•••
  • 47. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCWhat can we do differently?
  • 48. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLC•––•Favorite Resource or Tip?
  • 49. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCJoin UsHandoutConnectParticipate
  • 50. © 2013, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLCBias and Cultural Competence inRecruitment & Selection