A diverse workforce at your organization can offer significant economic and social benefits, leading to greater retention and innovation. However, invisible barriers must be overcome before such teams can form. Below, you’ll find out about these bottlenecks and how to achieve a more diverse workforce.
A Desire To Maintain the Status Quo
Perhaps the deepest barrier to diversity is our shared human preference for preserving the status quo. Research has shown that when making decisions, people have a bias toward the status quo alternative, which is doing nothing or keeping one’s current or prior decision. This bias can lead the board members of a company, for example, to continue to choose white men for executive leadership positions, since 94% of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies are men.
This bias towards the status quo was cleverly examined in three studies by researchers at the University of Colorado and profiled in an article in Harvard Business Review. The authors found the following important results:
- When there was only one woman or minority candidate out of 4 finalists for a position, their odds of being hired was down to 0.
- By having at least 2 women in the finalist pool, the odds of hiring a woman were 79 times higher.
- By having at least 2 minority candidates in the finalist pool, the odds of hiring a minority candidate were 194 times greater.
This effect held no matter the total number of finalists in the pool (e.g., 6 total finalists, 8 total finalists) and was statistically significant. The overarching realization was this: Being the only woman or minority candidate emphasized the difference from the norm, or status quo. When the status quo was changed by adding just one more woman or minority candidate, this led to the survey participants to consider hiring them.
The Unconscious Bias to Various Personal Traits
Biases are not limited to race and ethnicity; a person’s age, gender identity, physical abilities, weight, religion, sexual orientation, and other traits could be subject to unconscious bias. When scrolling through resumes, a recruiter or hiring manager may unconsciously apply bias when registering the applicant’s name, which can indicate race or gender.
Here are some examples of implicit bias in the hiring process, supported by research:
- Resumes with White-sounding names were 50% more likely to receive callbacks than African-American sounding names,
- The science faculty in one study rated male applicants as significantly more competent than female applicants for a lab manager position.
- A study showed that the mean salary of female physician-researchers was about $31,000 less than males.
- In a study of more than 40,000 fictitious resumes, older women had a 47% lower callback rate relative to younger applicants for administrative positions.
Because these biases may have a long-term impact on hiring, it is important to correct them through specific actions and policies.
Solutions to Diversity Bottlenecks
If an organization makes a commitment to promoting diversity, it should treat a diversity initiative just like it would any other business objective. The Society for Human Resource Management writes about how to create a diversity initiative, and it involves collecting data on the current makeup of the organization (demographic data), establishing strategy, implementing the program, and evaluating the results.
After compiling employee demographic data, your company will be able to see areas of concern, especially at a high-level of race, age, and gender. Then you can begin to address these areas by looking at current practices or policies.
The tips below have been taken from research and various data sources, including findings from the White House Office of Science and Technology:
- Increase representation: If your company seeks to hire more women or minority candidates, make sure to have more than one female or minority candidate in the finalist pool (to defeat the bias of status quo, as discussed above).
- Engage with leadership: Work with senior leaders to make diversity a priority in the organization.
- Improve the retention of current employees: Often recruitment is seen as the only way to increase diversity, yet current employees with diverse backgrounds are valuable candidates for promotion and advancement.
- Update candidate screening systems: Ensuring a strong pathway for candidates through deliberate outreach and prioritizing data can help eliminate bottlenecks.
- Consider the language of job descriptions: Words such as “digital native” or “ninja” can impact a potential older candidate’s desire to apply.
- Use LinkedIn profiles without judgment: According to LinkedIn insights, recruiters are 13% less likely to click on a woman’s profile when she shows up in search. LinkedIn suggests to recruiters that they open more profiles when sourcing.
- Use Smart Automation and Predictive Analysis: An AI-powered tool like our solution, Censia, can help reduce unconscious bias by presenting an objective list of ranked candidates without identifying information.
After implementing solutions to diversity bottlenecks, your company may need to review and adjust your programs according to results.
Our Solution: Censia AI-Powered Talent Intelligence
While establishing your strategy to improve hiring practices at your company, you may consider using an artificial intelligence (AI) solution to analyze and predict the success of potential candidates.
Censia is an AI-powered tool that analyzes and models the key characteristics of top performers in order to apply that model to a proprietary database of over 500 million professionals. The tool then presents a short-list of qualified candidates for you, saving you hours of time spent sourcing and decreasing the impact of unconscious bias. Censia can also analyze the fit of internal candidates at your company, promoting diversity from within.
Many companies have long-standing organizational cultures and homogenous leadership teams that can truly benefit from integrating different perspectives and viewpoints. Along with improved hiring practices discussed above, the AI-powered talent intelligence platform Censia can play a large role in diversity implementation.