To attract the best, we all need to spend some time developing strategies to improve diversity and excellence in recruiting. Every single one of us has some unconscious bias that manifests differently among different people, and it is mostly an automated response. Understanding the following factors can help us understand why such practices must evolve:
• By 2045, the United States is projected to become a “majority-minority” nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, in which non-Hispanic whites of all ages will constitute less than 50% of the total population.
• By 2020, a majority of people under age 18 are predicted to be people of color for the first time.
• A New York Times article showed that there are fewer women in leadership positions than there are men named “John” and illustrated how “one of the biggest reasons women are so outnumbered at the top, studies show, is discrimination.”
Increasing diversity in the workplace is a smart business decision. Research by Gartner shows that companies with diverse and inclusive cultures see more innovation, achieve better business outcomes and exceed their financial targets. The question now is, how can you keep implicit bias at bay?
Here are just a few options to consider:
1. Rethink your job descriptions.
This is a big problem, especially in IT. During a team meeting, I gathered the leadership team and we went over the words we use in our job descriptions. We agreed that it is more beneficial and important to have the qualifications that are “a must” and not those that managers thought would be nice to have.
It is also crucial to avoid gender-coded words like “guru,” “rockstar,” “aggressive” or “independent,” and look for collaborative team players instead with words like “dedicated,” “sociable” and “conscientious.” There is evidence that women are less attracted to terms that focus on competition as opposed to terms that depict commitment and support. The goal is to remove gender-biased terms in the hopes of increasing the applicant pool.
2. Try blind auditions.
I am not referring to the TV show The Voice, but a similar approach may help us in the hiring process. It is ideal to remove the candidate’s name, gender, race, age and any other discriminating information from resumes before reviewing them. This will help remove any unconscious bias you may hold when ranking the candidates and can help companies hire for talent and skill, not just for cultural similarity.
Our brains tend to make fast, snap judgments when we meet new people, and this step alone can help take some of your unconscious biases about others out of the hiring process.
3. Create inclusive policies.
This means way more than affording flexibility for mothers; we must be able to extend parental leave on equal terms to fathers as well. This way, we encourage men to step away from the workplace and help a bit more at home. Benefits like paid family sick leave, childcare subsidies, paid parental leave and health insurance go a long way toward supporting diversity and inclusion.
4. Avoid hiring for culture fit.
Nowadays, some companies seem to hide behind the term “culture fit” in order to conveniently discriminate against people who, in perfect circumstances, are extremely qualified to perform the task at hand.
When done appropriately, hiring for culture fit results in employees who work well with their peers, fit well into their assigned role and, more importantly, share their company’s sense of purpose. The basis of culture-driven recruiting is hiring on aptitude and attitude first and not based on people you want to have beers with after work.
5. Use checklists and a rubric.
The goal of this tool is to make the hiring committee members’ judgments more consistent and pertinent to the pre-selected criteria associated with success. The process of systemizing your hiring process can go a long way toward ensuring your hiring process results in the most skilled, successful candidate. Working off a rubric can help make sure you rate candidates based on the definite qualities in the rubric and not personal likeability.
6. Opt for intelligent recruitment.
I have attended numerous conferences and panels where companies promise a more efficient workplace where the use of artificial intelligence (AI) can cut down on the time spent reading resumes and reviewing their content while comparing it to the original job description. In this day and age, we can no longer avoid looking at data, artificial intelligence and automation. AI tools are frequently used to make the first round of cuts and are often trained on data collected about previous or similar applicants.
Opponents argue that such systems can introduce bias and lack of transparency, and we all know that AI is far from being perfect. These AI systems are only as good as the humans who build them and the data they are trained on, but AI holds the greatest promise for eliminating bias in hiring in the future if properly configured.
In the end, we have a lot to gain by working with people from different backgrounds. We must admit that most of the practices that are in place are far from perfect and that they have contributed to much of the unfairness and discrimination that governs the average workplace today.
Fostering a diverse workforce is critical if businesses are to remain competitive today. We need new voices at the table if we expect continued innovation and the ability to reach out to larger markets. Facilitating better collaboration within the workplace is a critical element to help us all foster representation that is equal. Hiring is a social process, and in the end, relinquishing this task to computers may be a huge mistake, but we won’t know until we give it a try.
This article originally appeared on Forbes and has been republished with permission