Martina Mercer

How to Combat Unconscious Bias for a Diverse Workforce

We usually concentrate on SEO and business tips but we realise a lot of our clients are also recruiters. This is why we’re tackling a common problem in the workplace today, one Google has invested heavily in this month, unconscious bias.

Unconscious bias shapes the way employers recruit. Few people like to be told that they could be victims of unconscious bias as they see it as a weakness and believe it to be a less palatable trait in a human being. The first thing you need to know, when considering unconscious bias, is, it’s not your fault.

It is not a result of simmering prejudice, it does not mean you are a judgemental person, it’s simply a deep rooted survival mechanism that stopped us being eaten when we were Neanderthals. Unconscious bias is useful. It can prevent us from entering into dangerous situations and it can enable us to process information quickly, while filling in the gaps to complete the bigger picture.

Understanding Unconscious Bias

It’s not your fault. Once you realise that unconscious bias is natural, that it’s your brain protecting you, you can start to unravel the mystery surrounding this and thus work towards eliminating it from your recruitment process.

There are many reasons why handling unconscious bias enables a better workforce, it can ensure a much more diverse team, while balancing out the demographics, to bring variety, changeable skillsets and intelligence to the company.

Google believe in unconscious bias and actually invest in retraining the brains of their recruitment agents, in order to ensure they employ a diverse range of individuals, from both sexes and all backgrounds. The first step is recognising how unconscious bias works, and admitting that it plays a part in your recruitment process.

Why Does Unconscious Bias Occur?

The brain is presented with over 11 million pieces of information at any one time, yet we can only process 40 pieces of information. Unconscious bias fills in the gaps, using the brains past experiences, opinions, even information from TV shows we’ve watched.

Unconscious bias can make us dismiss a prospective candidate with tattoos, as we may believe they are trouble causers due to a series we watched as children. Unconscious bias makes us choose a male for a tech role, as we’ve never witnessed a female in the same position.

The First Step to Tackling Unconscious Bias

As mentioned, the first step is to be aware of your pre determined thoughts. Take a step back and try to view the situation objectively. If needed, widen the scope for recruitment. Add in factors such as sex, backgrounds, and ethnicity.

Look at the candidate on paper, and compare them with another who you view favourably. Delve deep and ask yourself if there is any sound reason (on paper) why you are dismissing the candidate. Is it their appearance, or does their name remind you of something? Is it their fashion sense or even accent?

Try to remove any prejudices, there are many techniques to help with this. You could conduct interviews over the phone in the first instance or through instant messaging.

The great news is, that you’re reading this article, so you understand that unconscious bias exists. This fact alone means you’re already one step ahead from your competitors in the recruitment process.

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