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Addressing Unconscious Bias in Hiring

“It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” 

James Baldwin

Your DEI success depends on not only defining a strong outcome, but also defining an equally strong process that helps mitigate individual and systemic biases. Hiring Leads or Hiring Teams can use this resource as a starting point to develop a better understanding of how those biases impact the hiring process.

As you move through the worksheet, consider your own biases and the current state of your organization’s hiring process. Reflect on the areas where you might have the biggest gaps or least structure. Where can you remove bias? What opportunities do you have to increase inclusion and equity? What new practices and policies could you adopt to create a more equitable hiring process?

It is important to remember that hiring for diversity and equity is a never-ending marathon, not a race. It takes time to create intentional processes and practices. It also takes time to see the results of putting these practices into place. You must commit to trying out different methods. You must also commit to moving through challenges when you make mistakes and not giving up on your hiring goals if there are setbacks. It will be an ever-evolving process that requires tending to and regularly reviewing practices for bias and equity.

Alongside equitable and deeply intentional hiring systems and practices, it is vital to also consider the work experience of your new hires once they join the organization. This is especially important for new hires from identity groups that are underrepresented on your team. Consider what it looks like and feels like to engage with your organization from beginning to end. What is the perception of your organization from the outside? Look at your website and hiring materials. How will you retain the new hire and support their well-being at work to ensure their success? How will you avoid tokenization and empower the new staff person? Do you conduct exit interviews and do you have a process to review the feedback?  

These questions all require their own time to consider, assess, and identify opportunities to take action. To support some of this work, TREC has a free webinar available on our website linked in the additional resources below that can support this vital part of building a more inclusive organization. 

Happy Hiring! 

In solidarity,

Cairá


TAKE ACTION!

When it comes to hiring, the average hiring manager or hiring team would likely say they don’t discriminate against applicants or candidates in the hiring process. That is because our biases often don’t show up in explicit and obvious ways. Bias tends to show up as a series of smaller decisions that we rationalize through our assumptions and perceptions. These biases are implicit–they are unconscious and tend to inform our decision-making whether we want them to or not. On average, humans make 1 decision every 2.5 seconds. Imagine how many decisions you’re making throughout the hiring process alone! The candidate selection process is the primary area where crucial decisions are being made in the hiring process and it is where bias tends to show up the most.

Activity Type

  • Personal Assessment
  • Organizational Assessment
  • Reflection Questions 

Activity Time

4 hours total (Including 3 exercises) 


What is this resource?

This resource is meant to address the individual unconscious biases that inform the hiring systems we create and the candidate selection process. Remaining unaware of these biases and their impact on our decision-making can contribute to the lack of representation of individuals from marginalized communities in the workplace.

Who is this resource for?

  • Hiring Leads, Hiring Teams, HR leads, DEI leads
  • Organizations that want to make their hiring processes more equitable.
  • Organizations with DEI-related hiring goals as a part of their overall DEI organizational strategy.

What will you gain through this resource?

  • An assessment of your current knowledge and understanding of underrepresented identity groups.
  • Identify opportunities to learn more about the communities you aim to recruit from.
  • Reasons why candidates from underrepresented groups are excluded or discriminated against in the hiring process.
  • Common candidate biases and solutions to address them.
  • An organizational gaps analysis of your organization’s hiring strategy and systems including:
    • Identifying priorities and areas that require focus.
    • Opportunities to increase inclusion and equity within the hiring process.
    • Gaps in the capacity of the hiring lead/team, as well as the capacity of the organization, and opportunities for other staff to get involved.

REFLECTION QUESTIONS

  • What themes emerged? Were there any surprises?  
  • What was uncomfortable or challenging?   
  • What did you learn from this exercise?  
  • Where do you see the greatest need to increase representation in your organization?  
  • Where do you believe, tactically, you have the greatest opportunity to first implement this work?

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Green 2.0 Reports 

Articles & Books

TREC Resources

Background Image: American Rivers | Scott Bosse

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