By Debbie Bolla
Unconscious bias in hiring practices has become a real challenge for organizations. In simple terms, unconscious bias happens when recruiters and hiring managers form opinions and conclusions about candidates based on first impressions. Francesca Gino, professor at Harvard Business School, explains that unconscious biases “cause us to make decisions in favor of one person or group to the detriment of others.” But there are ways for HR to help its teams become more conscious of their biases and take steps to eliminate them for fairer hiring outcomes.
In The Paradox of Culture Fit, Manager of Talent Acquisition for West Monroe Partners Lindsay Maanavi brings an interesting perspective to cultural fit evaluations, a practice that 60 percent of organizations integrate into their hiring practices, according to research from her firm. As she explains, cultural fit interviews can lead to hiring candidates that have similarities to others in the organization.
“It is easy to introduce bias during a cultural fit interview,” she says. “For example, let’s say a candidate went to the same university as you. You might unconsciously prefer them over someone else because you share that in common. This could lead you to eliminate candidates who could bring diverse perspectives, ideas, and approaches just because you had a shared experience with another candidate.”
In the story, she recommends interviewing for values alignment instead of cultural fit, allowing organizations to determine whether a candidate’s professional outlook, values, and behavior is aligned to company values like diverse thought and innovation.
We also explore a pilot program conducted at the University of Pennsylvania that leveraged a new technology to measure firm preferences and detect bias in hiring practices. The incentivized resume rating (IRR) tool uses a machine learning algorithm to evaluate the qualifications hiring managers select as important among hypothetical resumes. It has the potential to identify if employers display unconscious bias in their evaluation of resumes and help them correct any unfair patterns. Learn more in Educated Evaluations.
Because the more conscious organizations become of bias, the better the chance for improvement.