Many of us have a feeling of discomfort when we hear the word bias in relation to hiring, but let’s examine what bias actually is. The Association for Talent Development defines it as “a preference for or against a person, place, or thing over another, [which] can be held by an individual, group, or institution.” Bias is often associated with race or gender, but it can exist around almost anything. The keyword in this definition is preference, because the “reality is that our preferences help us navigate the world.”
All of us have preferences, therefore all of us have biases. But because those biases affect our behaviour, what’s important is that we recognize and learn how to manage them.
Deloitte has a fantastic resource on mitigating bias. Two of the key takeaways involve becoming aware of unconscious biases, and taking steps to lessen their effects. Let’s look at some of their suggestions around Awareness for leaders:
Understand your own biases. Question your behaviours and decisions to determine if they are influenced by bias.
Become a role model of objective behaviour and share your experiences. For instance, share instances of decisions you may have made in the past that were influenced by preconceived notions—how they impacted people involved, how/when you realized that the decision was unintendedly biased, what lessons you learned, and what corrective actions you took.
Encourage authenticity and acceptance in your organization.
“Calibration is a deliberate and thoughtful process of making data-informed and fact-driven decisions as opposed to making decisions driven by groupthink or gut instinct. It can be used in any context of decision-making,” including hiring and performance assessment. When establishing your talent strategy, it’s important to create opportunities to collect comparable data from candidates.
At Verriez, one of our favourite tools is our Candidate Questionnaire, designed specifically for each role. We’ve found that using this framework is a clear and effective way to compare data from different candidates. We also use an anonymized method of completing reference checks that generates candid andhonest feedback.