Research shows that companies with greater gender, racial, and ethnic diversity perform better than more homogenous companies. Different backgrounds and methods for attacking problems sparks creativity and enables teams to uncover more original, efficient solutions to challenges.

Hiring a diverse workforce that also has the right skills for the job, however, isn’t as easy as one might think. Unconscious biases frequently get in the way of selecting the best applicants for jobs. Gallup finds that companies fail to choose candidates with the right talent for a position 82% of the time.

How can you remove bias and improve your hiring processes to ensure you select a diverse body of talent with the right skills? Here are a few ways to help remove bias from your hiring processes.

1. Provide Training

Most biases lie below the surface and may not be obvious to you or your hiring staff. Unconscious bias occurs when we make judgements about candidates based on their gender, race, age, religion, or other prohibited factors without realizing we are doing it. Education on common hiring prejudices is the first step to eliminating bias from hiring practices. Training not only helps to uncover and define common prejudices, but also explains how they affect our decisions and how certain hiring practices feed these biases.

2. Choose Words Wisely

Job descriptions are often the first contact a potential candidate has with your company. Gender-neutral job titles and descriptions help to avoid alienating women and other minorities. For example, aggressive terms like competitive and determined can seem overly masculine. Words like collaborative and cooperative are more neutral. Long lists of required skills or wordy descriptions can also turn off qualified candidates. Women are less likely to apply if they feel they cannot meet every requirement listed for a role.

3. Standardize Your Process 

Designing a standardized, repeatable structure for each stage of the interview process helps reduce bias. As hiring managers focus on the same factors with each applicant, they are more likely to focus on skills and qualifications that have a direct impact on performance. Provide interviewers with a script to ensure all candidates are asked the same defined questions. Structured, task-based interview templates help to ensure assessments are objective and that candidates are measured by the same yardstick. This approach is one of the best ways to remove inherent bias from hiring processes.

4. Level the Playing Field 

A blind, systematic hiring process helps to improve the chances that hiring managers truly select the most qualified candidates for a job. Consider utilizing blind reviews and talent-based assessments to increase hiring objectivity.

  • Blind Reviews: Studies have found that resumes with “white sounding” names get nearly 50% more call-backs than those with minority sounding names and that managers of both sexes are twice as likely to hire a man instead of a woman. For these reasons and more, blind resume reviewing practices have long been used by companies to reduce the bias that certain names or genders may generate. Consider employing software programs that mask job applicants’ ethnicity, gender, age, educational background, and more in the initial review stages of hiring to help remove bias.
  • Talent Based Assessments: Once candidates make it into your office for face-to-face interviews, it is important to look at what the individual uniquely brings to the table. Focus on qualifications, talents, and skills first. Ask candidates to solve the same work-related problems, or to complete a skills test. This shifts the focus from subjective views on personality, background, education and even experience to objective qualifications and on-the-job skills. Talent based assessments help hiring managers avoid unconscious judgements based on appearance, gender, age, and personality.

5. Consider a Diverse Interview Panel

Enlisting employees from diverse backgrounds to help interview and assess candidates makes it more likely you will hire diverse candidates. Include a mix of men, women, cultures and ages on your hiring and interview teams. While interview panels might seem intimidating, they help to reduce inherent bias and provide a more balanced assessment of candidates than one-on-one interviews. Personal opinions and blind spots are checked by others in the room, ensuring candidates get a fair assessment.

6. Employ an Outside Firm

Employing an outside staffing firm can also help reduce bias. You still get the final say on which applicants to interview and hire, but vetting prospects through an outside organization with expertise in this area can increase the diversity of candidates.

Reducing bias requires employers to make a conscious effort to consider job applicants that bring something different and unique to the company culture. While it might seem easier to hire those that look, act, talk, and think like you, it doesn’t actually serve business productivity or profitability. In contrast, stretching the boundaries of your culture serves innovation and boosts your bottom line.

Are you looking to hire a diverse, highly skilled workforce? PSI can help. Contact us today and put our expertise to work for you.