Are we using the right tools to combat recruitment bias?
If a CV is on the borderline of what a recruiter is looking for, it’s twice as likely to be shown leniency and accepted if it belongs to a man with a white-sounding name, compared to one belonging to a man with an ethnic-sounding name; even if their qualifications and experience are exactly the same. This may sound like a fact from the last century, but we are still seeing all kinds of prejudice – not just racial – prevailing within the recruitment process.
Although very few of us would like to think that we might judge someone by their race or gender, to some degree, we all make decisions that are influenced by bias. This is because the majority of our decisions are the result of often unconscious thought processes, and recruitment is no different. In fact, this implicit bias has an overwhelming impact on the types of people who are awarded roles.
Whilst there are some firms making great progress in addressing this issue, we still aren’t close to where we should be. One reason for this, is that despite their proactivity, there are firms still implementing solutions that seem to tick all the right boxes in promoting a fair and unbiased process, but instead, are only exacerbating the issue.
A prime example of this are psychometric ability tests such as verbal and numerical reasoning. Whilst both these tests are often used, they are generic, and almost always harm the progression of minority candidates when compared to white candidates. An important reason for this is that these tests measure ‘crystallised intelligence’, which is our knowledge of facts (such as the best use of specific words). Candidates who are first- or second-generation migrants, or from less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds, may have strong potential whilst performing less well on these tests.
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