In today’s global markets, creating a diverse workforce is increasingly essential.
Hiring employees from different genders, backgrounds, races, and nationalities enriches workplace culture and improves business practices. Studies find that diverse workforces lead to increased creativity, higher productivity, greater competitiveness in the hiring market, and boosted profits. Differences in thought processes, life experiences, and perspectives lead to a broader range of ideas across departments and greater insight into new and underleveraged markets.
If your company has been striving towards greater diversity, you may have noticed that it’s easy to set diversity goals, but hard to reach them. One of the main barriers to hiring a more diverse workforce is unconscious biases.
What Is an Unconscious Bias?
Unconscious biases are snap judgments we make about others without being aware of them. These socially ingrained prejudices underly all of our decisions, including hiring decisions. There are many different kinds of unconscious biases, but when dealing with diverse candidates, the most prevalent are race and gender biases, affinity bias, and confirmation bias.
Unconscious biases are snap judgments we make about others without being aware of them.
Race and Gender Biases
Race and gender biases are similar. Society has trained us to compare minorities unfavorably to white people and women unfavorably to men. These biases infiltrate judgments of candidates’ skills when hiring, which leads to more white and male employees hired over equally (or more) qualified minority and women candidates.
Affinity bias is, at its root, about comfort. If we think we have something in common with someone (alma mater, neighborhood, race, gender, etc.), then we feel more comfortable around that person. This sense of familiarity leads us to favor the people most similar to ourselves.
Affinity bias is, at its root, about comfort.
Our affinity bias is especially pronounced when hiring international candidates. There may be turns of phrase, behaviors, or gestures that are common in one country but seen as offensive in another. Being around people with different mannerisms than our cultural norms often makes us uncomfortable and could cause a highly qualified international candidate to be rejected merely for cultural differences.
Confirmation bias is the most dangerous bias because it builds upon all other prejudices. No one wants to feel like they’ve misjudged another human being and our confirmation bias attempts to prevent us from realizing that we have. All of us make snap judgments about other people, but our confirmation bias causes us to search for and find only those aspects of that person that support our original opinion.
Confirmation bias is the most dangerous bias because it builds upon all other prejudices.
How To Overcome Bias
Combatting our unconscious biases is possible. The first step is realizing what they are and training ourselves to recognize when we unconsciously (or consciously) judge others. The next step is to create hiring practices that neutralize our unconscious biases:
- Set diversity goals to track your progress
- Use neutral language in job listings
- Remove names and other identifying information from resumes
- When possible, use work samples to judge candidates
- Research cultural norms before interviewing international candidates
- Conduct structured interviews using scorecards to quantify impressions
- Use diverse interview panels that can check each other on biases
Software has been developed to help HR departments complete tasks like removing names from resumes and highlighting gender-biased language in job descriptions, but training is the best way to help employees recognize and check their own biases when hiring candidates or working with fellow employees.
If your company is interested in creating and training for a more diverse workforce, U Diverse can help. We specialize in developing customized cultural training and diversity coaching to build and develop strong multicultural teams. Contact us today to learn more about our services.
We support global organizations holistically who want to achieve their goals of working internationally by hiring and developing global talents, leaders and multicultural teams. We offer not only customized, top-quality international talent acquisition strategy, global leadership, teams, cross-cultural and diversity consulting and training programs, but we also provide in-depth coaching from ICF-certified coaches and trainers who speak French, English, Dutch, Spanish and German. Take action and schedule a free strategy session with us today.
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About U Diverse’s founder:
Magali Toussaint is the founder of U Diverse. She is a certified talent acquisition strategist, an ICF-certified leadership and career coach, cross-cultural trainer and job search strategist with an extensive career in recruitment, HR, diversity, and education. She has lived and worked in over four countries and speaks French, English and Dutch.