Unconscious bias hides in every nook and cranny of the workplace, from recruiting to staff development to team management, internal mobility, and retention. Bias also adversely affects employee morale and harms productivity.
A recent Deloitte survey shows that 64% of U.S. adults had experienced bias in the workplace within the past year. Of this group, 83% said the bias was both subtle and indirect. Workers report feeling a lack of support, losing interest in their jobs and work environment.
The Deloitte survey also showed that over 84% of respondents believed that bias adversely affected productivity, happiness, and confidence.
Bias can start in the recruitment stage. Reducing the impact of bias should be a primary goal across HR and especially for recruiters. There are apparent categories such as age, gender, and race or ethnicity where unconscious bias lurks. But there are additional categories that can mess up your hiring plan.
Ten Areas Where Unconscious Bias Hides
Discriminating based on age, both younger and older, seems to affect women more than men, which is the perfect segue to gender bias.
Selecting candidates and assuming one gender is better than another. Also in this category are people that identify as gender fluid or other.
A first or last name may trigger bias associated with an ethnic group and perceived background.
Height and Weight
A significantly overweight person can be judged negatively as someone who is unusually short.
Some people may have a different impression of people who have a different skin color than theirs.
Someone perceived to be more attractive may receive different treatment than someone judged to be less attractive.
Sometimes obvious disabilities can create a negative impression and influence people’s attitudes.
A person’s academic credentials can also form a bias, depending on the type of institution or its location.
When a person speaks with a foreign or regional accent, it can also lead to a biased perception.
People can be drawn to others that look and act the same, went to the same school, come from similar backgrounds and geographical locations. It can also occur when one gender favors hiring the same gender.
Personality types like introverted and extroverted can also trigger bias based on personal preference.
How pervasive is unconscious bias?
Studies have concluded that unconscious bias is alive despite efforts to train staff to avoid discriminatory practices and attitude checks. Unconscious judgment may be hardwired when it comes to background, age, and other categories.
Many people are not aware they retain certain attitudes, stereotypes, and prejudices. These biases may not even align with their core beliefs, yet they can still be a factor in judging others.
Steps to address unconscious bias
Most companies have taken on the challenge to eliminate bias and offer training that covers the essential elements of the federal anti-discrimination laws. The 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and origin.
Training can focus a workforce on recognizing and dealing with preconceptions and intrinsic bias.
However, training may not be sufficient to reduce bias. Many organizations may need to address structural issues such as identifying discriminatory company policies or unequal treatment that promote bias.
Another step is turning to machine learning to reduce bias in recruiting.
How AI and machine learning remove bias from the hiring process
New technologies such as the Talent Intelligence (TI) platform will remove information that could contribute to bias in recruiting. It creates a shortlist of candidates based on skills and capabilities. Hidden biases prevent great candidates from getting deserved positions and companies acquiring the best talent.
Proactive steps and policies are the paths to reduce and even eliminate bias from all corners of the organization. Implementing anti-bias practices and promoting equal treatment is a hot-button issue for the Gen Y and Z emerging workforce. It can lead to attracting and retaining diverse talent.
A diverse and bias-free work environment has a positive impact on the company culture. If you’re looking to build a more loyal and committed workforce with improved productivity and more significant talent ROI, now is the time to learn more about how Censia eliminates unconscious bias from the talent search.