Racism in recruitment: Review your current recruiting process and 6 steps to remove unconscious bias.

Racism in recruitment: Review your recruiting process and how to eliminate unconscious bias.

June 29, 2020 - 8 minute read -
recruiting-strategy

racism in recruitment

The recent killing of George Floyd has instigated anti-racism protests across the U.S. and in over 60 countries in the following days. Racism is always a sensitive problem, and today, it has become a delicate topic more than ever in recruitment.

As the human rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Therefore, taking action toward removing unconscious bias on race to embrace diversity in recruitment is regarded as the upward trend of all businesses in the world.

But what are unconscious biases on race, why it is important to remove them in your hiring process, and how to achieve that ideal process? Check out all tips below to review your current recruiting process and make it better!

Unconscious bias on race in recruitment - what are they?

Unconscious bias is also known as implicit bias. Unconscious bias refers to a bias that is unaware of and triggered by our brain making quick judgments and assessments of people and situations depending on their races, and it strongly influences our decision in hiring a candidate or not.

Read more: 10 Eye-opening Best Practice Strategies to Diversity Recruiting

recruitment-unconscious-bias

Why is it essential to eliminate racial unconscious bias in the hiring process?

It is proved that removing racial unconscious bias in the recruitment process can help the business reach out to the best talents, improve the employees’ performance, and increase business profits.

In a McKinsey report in 2015: “Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians”.

Moreover, many studies have indicated that teams consisting of both white and black members often focus more on facts and carefully analyze information, and come up with great innovations when the organizational culture and leadership support learning across differences.

In terms of legal aspects, there are many countries which enact laws to stop the discrimination in workplace. For instance, in the U.S, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination at work based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Similarly, in the U.K, the Equality Act 2010 is also introduced to protect employees from discrimination. The Australian government also brings in the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth) to protect diversity in employment. Meanwhile, in Canada, there is a set of laws that protect human rights and prevent the discrimination among community such as the Canadian Human Rights Act, 1977, and the Employment Equity Act, 1986.

Types of unconscious racism in the current hiring process

Despite all those benefits of a diverse workplace, minorities still struggle to find good positions in a wide range of industries and sectors.

For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, at U.S. finance companies in 2019, only 2.4% members of the executive committee, 1.4% of managers and directors, and 1.4% of senior portfolio managers are black. Similarly, only 1.9% of tech engineers and 5.3% of tech professionals are African-American.

So how can unconscious bias occur throughout your recruitment process?

  • Racial prejudices in resume screening
  • Many candidate resumes are put in the trash bin just because they have ethnic names or come from black universities or African countries.

    Research of professor Binna Kandola, co-founder of Pearn Kandol found out that in two resumes with the same qualifications, one with names that “seemed to be a white person”, was about 50% more likely to be offered for an in-person interview than those whose name seems to be one of the minorities. It may result from the unconscious or in some cases conscious bias of recruiters/screeners themselves that make it hard for them to stop.

  • Racism in in-person interviews
  • According to a new research of Havard and other institutes, there are groups of candidates, who share similar qualifications come to interview for the jobs, they all share similar qualifications, and the only difference is their color of skin . It comes to the conclusion that white candidates gain 36% more callback than the black ones. Therefore, it is essential for employers to remove the unconscious bias to employ candidates based on their potential, knowledge and skills, not their skin, nationalities, or ethnicities .

  • Racism in the job description (JD)
  • While gender-bias is the most common bias that happens with job descriptions, there are some racial bias words that you should look out for in your job descriptions. For instance, the phrase “Master/Slave”, indicating software architecture, is used in many database-related job ads. In 2004, it was ranked by Global Language Monitor as “the most politically incorrect term”. As the result, giant tech companies such as IBM, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services have changed the words “master/slave” into “primary/replica”

    Tips for businesses to remove unconscious bias in recruitment and embrace diversity

    diversity-in-recruitment

    1. Train your team to recognize unconscious bias

    Helping recruiters and hiring managers recognize they may hold some unconscious biases is a critical first step. Providing internal training about unconscious bias, analyzing what it is and how to develop and improve the processes to minimize its impacts on your hiring process. For instance, in 2018, Starbucks made all its stores across the U.S and Canada close for sessions on the racial bias for all the members in the companies with implicit bias experts and civil rights activists. This is one of the effective ways to educate internal employees to better the business.

    2. Review your job descriptions

    Many studies demonstrate that bias can start from the moment a potential candidate reading a job description. Words like “strong English skills” mean that non-English native speakers are discouraged. Therefore, using neutral descriptions is important to appeal to a more diverse pool of candidates. Here are some powerful tech apps that you can use to review your JDs effectively.

    Textio – Textio is one of the augmented writing platforms that take your existing job description, scores it, and makes suggestions on how to get a better score. The higher the score, the more chances potential candidates will apply.

    Gender Decoder – Gender Decoder is a free tool that companies can use to review their job descriptions to make sure that gender-coded language (example: ‘driven’ = masculine, ‘dependable’ = feminine) is reduced/removed.

    3. Diversify your JD advertisement channels

    The best way to attract more potential candidates and increase your team diversity is to diversify your JD advertisement channels. Besides common job posting sites such as Indeed, Career Builder, social channels such as Linkedin, etc. are also a great source of advertising to valuable candidates regardless of race, education, and background. Below are a few examples of diversity specialized websites for job hunting you can try out:

    Read more: Increase the Diversity in Your Campus Recruiting Program

    4. Use structured, consistent evaluation form in hiring process

    Having a structured hiring process is the best way to minimize or remove unconscious bias. Structured hiring processes may include a skill test to force candidate assessment based on their skills and quality of work rather than on other personal attributes. A standardized interview that involves a set of defined questions for each type of interview is another important factor of a structured hiring process.

    Software solutions like Rakuna which allows you to implement standardized evaluation forms in your interactions and interviews with candidates can help you guide your recruiting team and hiring managers through the candidate assessment and rating process more objectively, while avoiding topics covered by anti-discrimination law and company policy.

    5. Use "blind hiring techniques"

    Blind hiring is related to anonymizing or “blind” personal information that can avoid unconscious bias about a candidate. Blind hiring helps us become more open-minded when evaluating a candidate’s skills, knowledge, and potential to succeed. Blind hiring includes: Blind candidate screening without considering their names, hometown, school, address; Blind pre-hire testing with a pre-hire test of a candidate’s job-related skills and knowledge through online or personality assessments; Blind interviewing with an anonymized written Q&A or an anonymized interview conducted via chat or phone call.

    6. Have a good record-keeping system in place for your entire prospecting and application process

    For many U.S. companies, having an applicant tracking system (ATS) as a record-keeping system for the entire application process is almost mandatory to ensure compliance with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rules which require companies demonstrate non-discriminatory practices. The ATS can track all your job requisitions, job descriptions, advertisement channels, search results from ATS database, notes, and decisions all along the way from the moment a candidate applies to your company until the final decision is made. It is not only a helpful tool for compliance, but also a helpful for your team to review your process, results, and make adjustments if needed.

    Read more: Diversity Recruitment Strategy Guides - Workplace Diversity: What, Why, and How?

    Beyond ATS, there are candidate relationship management (CRM) tools, which track prospective candidates before they become your applicants, which are also useful to record your treatment of all prospective candidates to ensure your company is not violating any discrimination rules. Here are selected CRM and ATS tools for your consideration:

    1. Zoho Recruit is a product of Zoho with a wide range of features, including candidate sourcing, candidate management, and huge space for hiring solution customization, which will suit the needs of diverse clients.

    2. Rakuna CRM is a great product to help recruiters strengthen engagement with candidates from different backgrounds.This tool has a specific Diversity Recruiting Solution Module which makes it stand out from common CRM solutions. Not only can it handle the usual CRM functions but it can help you dig deeper into diversity results, statistics, and surface diversity organizations and events that your team should follow or look at to help diversify your prospect pool.

    3. Workable is a cloud-based recruitment app for businesses, which has partnered with LinkedIn, Indeed, etc to support the hiring activities of many companies. Its key features are social media recruitment, job posting, and advertising

    Wrapping up.

    In this fast-changing business scenario, the competitiveness of hunting for talents has become more heated than ever. Therefore, removing unconscious bias in your hiring process is a must that every company should be doing. Luckily, with modern technology, there are many useful apps and software that facilitate you to eliminate the hidden biases, optimize your hiring process, and sort out the best potential and suitable talents for your business. Take advantage of them and better your recruitment now!

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