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Attraction, recruitment and selection. How can we take unconscious bias out of the hiring process?

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Gaining access to an organisation can be a challenge to visible minorities. That’s why, whether it be facilitating access to influential networks, curbing discrimination in the shortlisting process or improving interview practice, we must ensure recruitment and selection processes are fair. Learn more about how you can make this happen.

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Attraction, recruitment and selection. How can we take unconscious bias out of the hiring process?

  1. 1. Difference inspires business ATTRACTION, RECRUITMENT AND SELECTION How we can take unconscious bias out of the recruitment process
  2. 2. 2 Difference inspires business Gaining access to organisations is a challenge to visible minorities. People are an organisation’s greatest asset, so we must ensure recruitment and selection are fair. Diversity and Inclusion should be treated with strategic importance, and there are many business benefits to a diverse and inclusive team, for example, more innovation.
  3. 3. 3 Difference inspires business People are an organisation’s greatest asset, so we must ensure recruitment and selection are fair. Diversity and Inclusion should be treated with strategic importance, and there are many business benefits to a diverse and inclusive team, for example, more innovation.
  4. 4. 4 Difference inspires business Attracting diversity Shortlisting Selection tests Interviews Opportunities for improvement lie in these key touchpoints in the recruitment process
  5. 5. 5 Difference inspires business ATTRACTING DIVERSITY ...
  6. 6. 6 Difference inspires business THE ROLE OF NETWORKS Networks do more than just provide information about the opportunity… They also play a role in assessing the suitability of potential candidates. Even informal networks can be highly effective for recruitment.
  7. 7. 7 Difference inspires business THE ROLE OF NETWORKS Referrals and word of mouth recommendations have a built-in guarantee of suitability… because the recommender is often a trusted individual, and take a degree of responsibility for it – it’s their reputation at stake as well.
  8. 8. 8 Difference inspires business THE ROLE OF NETWORKS Research has shown that minorities and women don’t respond as well to such referral methods, preferring more formal selection procedures.* *Newman, D.A & Lyon, J.S. Recruitment efforts to reduce adverse impact: Targeting recruiting for personality, cognitive ability and diversity. J. Appl. Psychol. 94, 298-317 (2009)
  9. 9. 9 Difference inspires business THE PERSONAL TOUCH Managers tend to select people of the same ethnic background as themselves. …Partly due to their limited contact with people from other groups.
  10. 10. 10 Difference inspires business THE PERSONAL TOUCH For the individual, the personal touch can make a big difference in how they navigate the selection progress, for example: Establishing contact with the business Knowing how to respond to employers Appreciating how to complete an application form
  11. 11. 11 Difference inspires business THE PERSONAL TOUCH Organisations who refer to diversity in their recruitment advertisements, brochures and websites are viewed more positively by minority applicants than those who don’t.* Public image is important for every business, however women and minorities pay more attention to messages from external stories… Media coverage about a company’s commitment to diversity (or lack of) is more influential than imagery on a company website. Even the most clever, slick recruitment ads will be undermined by press coverage about discrimination cases. *Newman, D.A & Lyon, J.S. Recruitment efforts to reduce adverse impact: Targeting recruiting for personality, cognitive ability and diversity. J. Appl. Psychol. 94, 298-317 (2009)
  12. 12. 12 Difference inspires business THE PERSONAL TOUCH Personal experiences of friends and family working for that organisation play an extremely important and influential role. Their first hand testimonies can’t be underestimated for a candidate thinking about applying. Although recruiting via word of mouth may exclude minorities, it does have an impact in helping minority candidates form an overall picture of whether an organisation will treat them fairly.
  13. 13. 13 Difference inspires business THE PERSONAL TOUCH Minority candidates tend to use the selection process as an indicator of what the organisation will be like to work for. The more considerate and careful the process, the more likely a candidate will continue with the process. But the longer and more stages within the process, the more likely minority candidates are to pull out.* *Zwysen, W. & Longhi, S. Labour market disadvantage of ethnic minority British graduates: University choice, parental background or neighbourhood? Non-technical summary (2016) www.iser.essex.ac.uk/research/publications/working-papers/iser/2016-02.pdf
  14. 14. 14 Difference inspires business THE PERSONAL TOUCH (Although this higher withdrawal rate may also be connected to minority candidates casting out a wider net in the first place)
  15. 15. 15 Difference inspires business SHORTLISTING
  16. 16. 16 Difference inspires business SHORTLISTING Discrimination within the shortlisting process has been heavily researched and evident amongst recruiters. Some organisations are trying to remove this bias by taking names off CVs… which may be effective. But it’s a shortcut, and although cheaper, is not a good substitute for training recruiters properly.
  17. 17. 17 Difference inspires business SHORTLISTING One course of action is for recruiters to evaluate several CVs at the same time. Here you examine a number of CVs one criterion at a time. This procedure can result in less bias than when each CV was evaluated in turn. It triggers a more analytical and rational approach rather than an intuitive method.* *Bohnet, I., School, H.K., Van Geen, A. & Bazerman, M.H. When Performance Trumps Gender Bias: Joint Versus Separate Evaluation. Faculty Research Working Paper Series
  18. 18. 18 Difference inspires business SELECTION TESTS
  19. 19. 19 Difference inspires business A selection test is: “an assessment procedure designed to provide objective measures of one or more psychological characteristics… The important feature of psychological tests is that they produce measures obtained under standardised assessment conditions which have known reliability and validity.” - British Psychological Society SELECTION TESTS
  20. 20. 20 Difference inspires business Tests of ability and intelligence pose a conundrum for psychometricians and recruiters… On one hand repeated studies show they’re valid and reliably predict performance in a role. On the other, differences in scores between white people and minorities are regularly observed. Their adverse impact of these test competes with their predictive ability. SELECTION TESTS
  21. 21. 21 Difference inspires business The issue is seen differently by academics and practitioners; with academics more likely to explore adverse impact and discrimination issues. The failure to address this contradiction at the heart of standardised testing, whether by intellectual omission or commercial pressure, means a continuing paradox between “adverse impact” and “predictive ability”. SELECTION TESTS
  22. 22. 22 Difference inspires business Carry out a detailed job analysis. Choose tests at a level appropriate for the role. Importantly, choose methods which are reliable, valid and have the lowest adverse impact. Don’t opt for a method solely because it is relatively cheap and easy to administer. Train your assessors and provide guidance to prospective candidates. Establish clear decision-making rules for the use of the tests. Carry out validation studies. Above all, be vigilant about potential adverse impact. SELECTION: GOOD PRACTICE 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6 7.
  23. 23. 23 Difference inspires business INTERVIEWS
  24. 24. 24 Difference inspires business Interviews are often considered the most important part of the selection process. Interviewers – especially untrained ones – form a first impression within one tenth of a second of meeting someone. Negative information is given more weight than positive information. After the first four or five minutes, the initial decision is unlikely to change. INTERVIEWS
  25. 25. 25 Difference inspires business Unstructured interviews by untrained interviewers have, unsurprisingly been the most biased. Larger organisations often have formal selection criteria that describe the qualities required for the role – and these criteria are used to guide all aspects of the selection process… in theory. In practice, what recruiters are looking for is something slightly different. INTERVIEWS
  26. 26. 26 Difference inspires business When asked, “What are you really looking for?” answers can range from a general list of competencies… Or terms like ‘chemistry’, ‘impact’, ‘presence’ or ‘personality’. Not formal criteria, and impossible to measure and compare fairly across candidates. INTERVIEWS
  27. 27. 27 Difference inspires business “This person is a good fit.” This phrase should ALWAYS be challenged. ‘Personality’ is often inadequately assessed and poorly described. E.g. someone may be deemed to have a ‘good’ personality or a ‘bad’ one. Too often interviewers can try to determine the amount or quantity: ‘lots’ ‘not much’ or even ‘no’ personality. These terms help to justify selecting ‘mini-mes’. INTERVIEWS
  28. 28. 28 Difference inspires business The interview process encompasses much of the territory covered by psychological research and theories relating to attraction: We are drawn to people who are like us on many levels, and this includes gender and race. INTERVIEWS
  29. 29. 29 Difference inspires business It’s also based on attributes like interests, education and experience. Race and gender are a proxy for other dimensions of similarity. They are obvious markers of difference and so can be used as a means of perceiving whether people share our interests. INTERVIEWS
  30. 30. 30 Difference inspires business The feeling that someone is similar to you leads to greater feelings of attraction: perceived similarity is just as important as actual similarity. Interviews are often not long enough for us to determine whether perceptions match reality. INTERVIEWS
  31. 31. 31 Difference inspires business CONCLUSION
  32. 32. 32 Difference inspires business Processes are in place to ensure consistency and fairness across recruitment, however they are still largely enforced by humans. …And humans are loaded with bias. We need to accept that no one is immune to bias and become conscious of how this affects our decision-making. CONCLUSION
  33. 33. 33 Difference inspires business Performance and progression rely on judgement, so we must look at every part of the process through a Diversity and Inclusion lens. We must start collecting good data to ensure we have visibility over our progress, and test assumptions. Diversity and Inclusion is a business imperative: it should be treated with strategic importance to future-proof businesses. CONCLUSION
  34. 34. 34 Difference inspires business To read more about modern racism, how it manifests in the workplace and how we can all play a part in addressing it, visit: pearnkandola.com/racism-at-work/ And to find out more about the book: Racism at Work: The Danger of Indifference, visit:  pearnkandola.com/book/racism-at-work/

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