In almost all aspects of our lives, race and gender bias have become prevalent aspects. Our perceptions are hardwired to group things that we come across every day for them to make sense around us.
From that, you will realize that it is very easy for our biased perceptions to make us have a prejudice against others. Bias comes in different forms but in this article, we are going to focus on why and how an employer can avoid race and gender bias while hiring.
Before we look at how and why let us look at a summary of statistics and facts from a number of researches that have been done across the world on race and gender bias in workplaces.
- 42% of women in the US have faced gender bias, 7% who never got promotions because of their gender.
- 80% of corporate leadership positions including 94% of CEOs are men in the Fortune 500 companies.
- Hiring managers whether men or women are twice likely to hire a male candidate
- More than 50% of men believe that women are well represented at their job places when 80% of senior leaders are men.
- Gender has made it harder for women working in majority male workplaces to get promotions and they experience significantly high rates of discrimination
- Regardless of their qualification, women are 22% less likely to get to manager compared to male workmates
- Through blind auditions and applications, women are 25-46% more likely to be hired.
- In one survey of identical resumes with two different names(John and Jessica), John was likely to be called for an interview and more likely to get the job. The same research reported that employers hiring more than 20 people annually were likely to make race and gender bias decisions.
- Havard reports that racial bias against blacks and Latinos has not declined in the last 25 years. In fact, white applicants receive an average of 36% more callbacks than black candidates and 25% more callbacks than Latino applicants even after using the same resumes.
- According to ENCOSTER, ethnic minorities have to complete 50% more job applications to get shortlisted for a job interview compared to ethnic majorities.
- NBER also reports that applicants with names that sound ‘black’ get 50% callbacks as compared to the names that sound ‘white’
From these statistics, it is easy to see that there is and has been racial and gender bias. In the next section of this article, we are going to look at the causes of gender bias and how to avoid them when hiring.
Causes of Gender Bias, and How to Avoid When Hiring
Shortlisting may be one of the reasons why most employers end up with gender bias. According to a certain Harvard Business Review report, a longer shortlist leads to more female candidates being shortlisted. Actually, numbers obtained from their research shows that 20% of female candidates are usually selected for interview from longer shortlists. This is as compared to 17% shorter shortlists. 3% difference may look small but it is quite significant putting in mind that it is these small numbers that make the big numbers.
Therefore, to avoid gender bias, make you shortlist longer. Longer shortlists have value during the hiring process alongside other ways that can be used to tackle gender bias.
ii) Gender Job Specifications and Description
There are certain phrases and job descriptions that when written in job adverts can deter highly qualified candidates from applying for the job. In fact, research shows that women apply for a job when they believe that they are 100% qualified for the job whereas men apply for a job when they match 60% of the job specifications required.
More studies show that 478,175 male and female-biased words were used throughout advertising jobs which calculated to an average of 6 gender-coded words per job ad. Some examples of these women biased words include: Understanding, Responsible, Support, Dependable, Committed, etc while men biased words include head, lead, Confident, Chief, Competitive, etc
You should avoid these words while writing job descriptions on job ads. You have to ensure that job descriptions are appealing and neutral to all candidates for you to avoid gender bias. This also helps you to put your focus on relevant data and qualities as you hire.
iii) Biased Recruiter Strategies
As we saw earlier in this article, both female and male hiring recruiters are more likely to hire a man over a woman. Starting from how and where you recruit your candidates, there can be traces of gender bias throughout the recruitment process and this is where many recruiting managers go wrong.
Erin McKelvey did not receive any responses from employers when she was looking for a job after graduation. However, when she changed her name to Mack on her resume which sounds more masculine, there was a 70% response rate in the jobs she applied for afterward.
To add to biased recruiter strategies, some employers consciously or unconsciously post open roles that predominantly target male candidates on platforms on social media especially through ads. These strategies are biased and they are not only unethical but also very illegal.
So, to avoid biased recruiter strategies, you can de-identify CVs. De-identifying CVs helps in eliminating unconscious bias that could be susceptible to gender details. You will also be evaluating a candidate’s CV objectively and not subjectively.
iv) Gender Biased Interview Questions
Sometimes, when interview questions are not set to standard, questions interviewers ask the candidates can turn out to be unconsciously biased towards race, gender experiences, and even candidates’ personalities.
Certain research shows that interviewers tend to ask female candidates to do more verbal interview tests while males are asked to perform more math-based pre-employment tests.
Another research shows that interviewers are most likely to ask women about responsibilities and parental plans. We all know that asking general questions to all candidates about their responsibilities and parental status is technically not illegal, but discriminating against pregnant people and parents is illegal.
To avoid gender-biased questions, ensure that you come up with neutral questions which may not seem to discriminate against the candidates.
You can also deploy standardized and structured interviews. These interviews have a set of defined questions that allows the recruiters to focus on factors and characters that have a direct impact on job performance rather than unnecessary questions that would seemingly be gender and race bias when hiring.
v) Unconscious Gender Biased Hiring Managers
Another research done shows that More than 50% of the hiring managers are usually influenced by candidates’ race and gender when the candidates were assessed separately. On the contrary, when the hiring team evaluated the candidates together, they hired the best performing candidate and neither gender nor race affected their decision. From the study, recruiters tend to ask targeted questions about a woman’s leadership abilities and also biasly prefer male leadership style compared to women leadership style.
Therefore, to try and avoid gender and race bias uses a diverse hiring panel. Based on the kind of interview, you can select or elect a diverse gender interview panel that will help to curb the risk of unconscious bias of gender and race. In fact, if possible, you can extend the diversity strategy to get a mixture of age range, race, and cultural diversity to conduct your interviews. This has an effect on gender balance as you hire new recruits for your company.
vi) Lack of Training
As we saw earlier at the start, human brains receive more than 10 million pieces of information and from that, they only process and perceive 40 items consciously. And it is because of that, the recruiting team would need to have gone through some training if they want to promote unconscious bias when hiring.
In fact, a lack of recruiting skills will have huge inefficiencies, higher costs, and loss of placement fees. Most untrained recruiters lose many candidates and they tend to spend more time screening the best candidates.
The same happens when recruiters are not trained on gender and race bias hiring. Recruiters who are untrained in this direction will most likely get unconsciously biased.
There are a number of diverse and bias training programs from organizations like Paradigm. Acquiring training from these organizations will surely help you and your hiring team avoid gender and race bias during the hiring process.
Having mentioned a few ways that can help avoid race and gender bias during hiring, it is also good to note that the above methods have a very small if any impact on the issue. Because of that, various companies have come up with Quantitative metrics which intend to bring balance to the gender bias issue.
Through quantitative metrics, recruiters have been able to avoid unconscious bias. For instance, through the metrics, candidates’ names get eliminated from initial assessments and most interview decisions will be made based on the same. From that, women are obviously going to get better opportunities to prove their worth in the companies.
With tools like HirePoint, employers are able to get all pre-employment tests including personality, cognitive and will generate job fit reports that align with the job specifications requirements and company culture. The reports validate the best candidate for a position from an employer’s shortlists of candidates regardless of their gender.
It is safe to say though that assessments are not 100% cure of gender bias that happens at most workplaces but it is the best place to begin avoiding. This is to say that the further women get through the hiring process, the more likely they are to get these job opportunities to climb up the ranks and help companies who are looking to achieve gender parity.
Why Avoid Gender and Race Bias
There are a number of benefits your company will reap from having an unbiased hiring process. In fact, in general, ensuring that your hiring process is unbiased and fair against all races and genders will have a great impact on your business and your organization. So, let us look at the benefits below.
i) Better Performance
Recent research shows that companies with a high percentage of female senior leaders have 74% higher returns on equity assets. And in general, a company is 15% more likely to do well if they are gender and racial diversity.
A gender and race diverse workplace which gives employees more perspectives will offer astounding power in decision making. Astounding power in decision-making will, in turn, lead to more innovations that have an impact on the revenue of the company. From that, talent will be respected and stay purposeful. No matter which business you are doing, diverse talent and purpose will always drive performance.
ii) A Diverse Talent Pool
Conducting a recruitment process that attracts a bigger and wider pool of applicants supports gender and race unbiased hiring. On the other hand, most people looking for jobs ought to seek jobs from diverse companies.
According to a Monster study done in 2020, 83% of Gen Z candidates claimed that they would choose a diverse working environment which means that every company’s commitment to gender and race diversity is very important when choosing an employer.
iii) Better Talent Retention
A study done by HBR shows that companies work smarter when the hiring process is unbiased. The study further claims that diverse teams make quicker and informed decisions based on factual findings.
This means that there will be more meaningful innovation that will enrich the future of your company. Such diverse working environments are where most people seeking for jobs want to thrive and most want to stay for longer periods.
Race and gender bias during hiring is a big issue across the world. It does not only sound unethical when you get biased during your hiring process, it is also illegal. Fortunately, we live in a world full of technological advances. HirePoint offers you the best possible pre-employment solutions that you may need. You will save your time and money, keep top talent, avoid unbiased hiring which increases productivity and in turn, your company’s ROI will rise.