How Bias Shows Up in Hiring Practices

If you were asked if you are biased in your companies HR practices, you may adamantly respond, “Of course not!” But what if you were being biases without really knowing it?

By nature of unconscious behavior, you don’t knowingly choose to behave that way. However, people experience the impact of an action, not the intent of the action.

Let’s imagine you’re hiring for the position of VP of Sales and Marketing for your organization. You have 4 resumes you are reviewing, and the candidates’ names are Sally Smith, Lakisha Jones, John Running Bull, and Randall Westinghouse. When reading these names, did you start to conjuring up a mental image of each of these candidates? Were you starting to form an opinion of who each of these candidates are and what their background could be? Whether you want to or not, our brains are wired to start forming a mental picture in our mind as we read. If your mental picture included skin color or even gender, are you being racist or biased?  This is what unconscious biases looks like. It sneaks in and can impact our actions and thoughts without us even being aware of it.

Other biases that could occur without awareness is Age Bias, Gender Bias, and Beauty Biases. Below is a list of actions you can take to counter these biases:

  1. Name Biases: Have someone else prepare the resumes before giving to the decision maker(s) for review by removing the names and contact information and replacing with only the candidates’ initials.
  2. Gender Biases: Removing all contact information before passing the resume to the decision maker will help eliminate this bias. In addition, removing any associations that are gender specific.
  3. Age Biases: Ask applicants to reference only the last 10 years of employment history and remove any reference to graduation dates.
  4. Beauty Biases: Hold initial interview via phone conference instead of video conferencing.

Take these simple actions to prevent unconscious bias when hiring employees. Doing so will help you build a team that is diverse, inclusive, and empowered.

Statements on this blog reflect the author’s personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of YWCA Metropolitan Phoenix or YWCA USA. Blog entries are meant to spark individual reflection and community conversations on issues of racial justice and gender equality.