Bias In Recruitment Is Losing You Top Talent

Bias In Recruitment Is Losing You Top Talent

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New Survey highlights alarming rates of bias within recruitment processes.

Less than a third (32%) of HR managers feel confident that they are not prejudiced when hiring employees.

In fact, almost half (48%) said they are aware their candidate choice is affected by bias. On top of that, 20% said they couldn’t be sure their actions were not biased when selecting new hires.

The figures rose when participants were asked to evaluate their peers’ levels of bias. Close to three quarters (74%) reported witnessing bias from others during the hiring process.

The survey by SomeoneWho, a digital recruitment platform, showed the persistence of bias in recruiting, with a quarter (25%) observing discrimination during the recruitment process on a regular basis.

“We all have personal preferences and bugbears — so it’s no surprise that bias creeps into the interview room to some extent,” said Andrew Saffron, founder of SomeoneWho.

“But our research shows that an alarming number of HR managers are actively ruling out candidates based on factors that are discriminatory – education, accent or gender – which is clearly unacceptable.”

10% of respondents confessed they would be reluctant to hire a woman for a male-dominated role.

Likewise, 11% admitted they would avoid taking on recently married women, due to the likelihood of them going on maternity leave soon.

And if a woman was pregnant, they would be overlooked by almost a fifth (18%) of the surveyed HR managers.

Education also plays a significant role in biased hiring decisions with 10% rejecting those with a state school education and 8% overlooking those privately educated.

More than 1 in 10 (11%) would turn down a candidate whose accent was hard to understand and 4% would reject them if their name was difficult to pronounce.

Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, believes that employers and recruiters have a “mutual responsibility to create inclusive workplaces and ensure good recruitment practices.

“Employers need to be as effective as possible at attracting talent from all parts of society, and recruiters have an important role to play in challenging old-fashioned practices, and should promote open and transparent selection.”

Green added that bias can be reduced by small tweaks to hiring practices, such as ‘name blind’ recruitment, which helps to prevent prejudice based on gender or ethnicity.

Our previous blog post also suggests other simple tweaks to reduce the impact of bias in hiring.

Sandra Kerr, race equality director at Business in the Community, warned that bias in recruitment is meaning employers might be missing out on the best talent.

“Unconscious bias training for all involved in the recruitment process can have an impact, and employers should look at having diverse recruitment panels wherever possible, and monitoring the diversity of applicants at each stage of the process,” she said.

“This will help identify gaps and enable employers to put steps in place to ensure that the candidates they are hiring truly reflect the clients, customers and communities they serve.”

Taking such steps as ‘name-blind’ applications can reduce bias in certain areas of the recruitment process but in the interview room, our observations can often lead us down the wrong path.

That’s partly because observable behaviour is incredibly fluid, and we humans are remarkable at adapting ourselves to whichever environment we find ourselves in.

On top of that, the natural psychological biases that we have as humans often stop us from making objective and accurate decisions.

Even for hiring managers that can see past ethnicity, education and gender, relying on our observations of behaviour during the interview may end up with our hiring the best interviewee and not the best candidate.

Many organisations use analytics to cut through unconscious bias in recruitment processes.

A good analytics tool will use science-based data to match up the behavioural requirements for the role to the motivational drives hidden under the surface of the candidates.

This approach also helps tackle the skills shortage, as it can help you to identify those candidates who perhaps lack the skills today, but who have the potential to be stars, tomorrow.

Do these figures tally with your experience of bias in your recruitment process?

What tools do you find most useful in reducing bias when hiring?

We look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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