Infusing diversity in your workforce & hiring process

14 December 2020

The world has in the recent years addressed hiring biases for employers fiercely and with good cause. Organizations have followed as well to ensure unbiased hiring practices and equality in race, sex, background, etc. to infuse diversity. There are still implicit biases today, however.

Harvard Business Review has done research to study the phenomenon of these implicit biases and the gravitational pull for employers to select “candidates with identities that fit a stereotype”. Based on the partition dependence bias the researchers found that when applicant resumes were grouped together in categories, for instance gender, it increased the diversity of selected candidates:
“For instance, we conducted a study with 121 experienced HR professionals who had an average of eight years of HR-related experience. We asked them to download a zipped folder containing resumes of 16 job applicants who graduated from one of four top universities. In one version of the study, the order of the resumes was random and did not vary by university. In the other version, the resumes from each school were contiguous in the folder (i.e., the files in the folder were sorted alphabetically). All HR managers were asked to select four candidates to interview. We found that when the resumes were randomly interspersed, 14% of managers chose candidates from all four universities, but this number more than doubled to 35% when the resumes were grouped together by university. We found similar results when we grouped candidates by gender, either by listing them contiguously or by using a paper clip to hold their printed resumes together. We found similar results when grouping candidates by ethnicity and nationality.”

Organizations can implement this by grouping all the applicants before sending the batches to the hiring manager. Do not however write the names of which the groups are categorized by on the file name, just give them generic names. This will positively affect your hiring diversity without effecting the hiring managers free will (he/she can still select any applicant) and the quality of the applicants you choose.

Source: Harvard Business Review