Companies are taking necessary steps to create hiring equity, and leaders are doing their best to identify key areas of improvement when it comes to bias. And it’s a tall order. For many business owners, just knowing where to start to identify biases before and after the hiring process can feel like trying to herd cats. While you work to improve your company culture and processes in a way that promotes equity among your ranks, you can likely find additional enhancements at the hiring, onboarding, and talent management levels. Here are three ways to get your business moving in the right, unbiased direction.
1. Changes at the People Level
It’s critical that you begin your bias prevention efforts with people. You have hiring managers, human resource coordinators, and key staff responsible for representing your company to clients, vendors, and potential new hires. To prevent and combat bias within your workplace, you’ll want to consider addressing perspectives and experiences with the people who may be intentionally or inadvertently perpetuating biases.
Understanding the Different Types of Bias
Your teams will probably be unaware of their bias, despite their best efforts to promote inclusion and diversity. Understanding the different kinds of potential biases will help you prevent further hindrance in your workplace. Here are a few to explore.
- The Halo Effect: A cognitive preference in which the overall impression of an individual, influences how someone concludes character.
- Affinity Bias: An unconscious tendency to associate and get along with others who are similar.
- Attribution Bias: Instead of understanding the situation at hand, this tendency speaks to how people make judgments and assumptions about why others behave the way they do.
- Confirmation Bias: An unconscious tendency to interpret new information as evidence for existing theories and beliefs.
Hiring Manager Perspective
Your company hiring managers are the first line of representation of your business. Any new team members that join the ranks will form an impression of your company’s inclusion based on the experiences with those key hiring managers. It’s imperative in combating bias pre-hire to establish structured interviews that promote consistency for every candidate. Several different pre-screening steps can lay in a more robust evaluation process, too. Everything from interview invitation emails to employment testing requirements needs to all be structured to help eliminate the “personal bias” from entering the process and misrepresenting your organization.
As a company owner or business manager yourself, you need to recognize that biases do exist. Identifying the conscious examples is pretty easy. And you likely already have policies prohibiting discrimination practices before and after the hire. But it’s those subconscious biases that tend to creep into organizations and transcend throughout the company. Open communication ongoing will help shed light on those instances of bias. Define biases to your existing teams and put in place a series of steps to deputize everyone so that anyone can identify concerns. Express your company’s mission to eradicate all instances of workplace bias as one of your many efforts to improve inclusion.
2. Changes at the Processes Level
In addition to coaching your people about workplace bias, you’ll need to support those efforts with the necessary processes. Don’t just tell employees not to be biased. Instead, offer a variety of support methods that make identifying and eliminating bias easier.
Bias-free technology is a thing. When you think about it, technology processes won’t have the consciousness to effect bias like humans do. Look at your hiring, onboarding, training, and evaluation processes. If there are opportunities to incorporate technology in the form of software, automation, or AI, you could use those solutions to reduce the instances of bias.
Unbiased Application Process
If every new hire application, for example, presents the same initial questions about experience or credentials, then you know that the playing field is level for all who apply. If, upon hire, new employees are introduced to the company with the help of consistent videos, new hire training, and key staff introductions, you can be sure to reduce any instances of potential bias in your onboarding. It’s often a good idea, too, to include several different perspectives in your hiring processes. Before a final decision is made regarding a potential hire, insist other managers weigh in by interviewing, evaluating, or reviewing the candidate as a second and third opinion.
Unbiased Performance Reviews
After the hire, you’ll likely have performance benchmarks in place to evaluate your employees ongoing. It’s imperative to prevent bias from seeping into these processes, as well. Many companies combat biases by assigning key decision-making responsibilities to more than one person. Goals and expectations should always be transparent to the employees. But when it comes to evaluation of performances, for purposes of reviews, personal growth, or pay increases, having more than one voice in this management discussion will help thwart any potential bias that having only one decision-maker will bring.
3. Changes Ongoing to Combat Bias
Once you identify and remove an instance of unconscious bias, don’t assume your mission is complete. Bias can present at any time and across a variety of workplace scenarios. As soon as you prioritize improvements with your people and process, you can then look to implement strategies to combat bias ongoing.
Diversity and Inclusion Improvements
If you don’t already have a diversity and inclusion policy, consider creating one. Share it with everyone from key stakeholders to entry-level employees. You can then explore each level of your organization to make sure everyone is adhering to basic policies supporting your inclusion efforts. And because the nature of inclusion changes over time, it’s best to examine your business’s adherence ongoing.
Company Culture Cultivation
As you add new hires to your teams, you’re essentially changing the company dynamic. Promoting existing employees into new positions changes the workplace dynamics, as well. Every internal shift, no matter how small, can disrupt the trajectory of your company culture. This is why you need to continuously manage your company culture and look for ways to cultivate it in the right direction. Here are a few areas that might need ongoing revision.
- Employee Recognition: Performance, loyalty, and company anniversaries.
- Employee-Level Career Development: Continuing education and certification opportunities.
- Employee Idea Sharing: Allowing employees to offer solutions, ideas, and concerns.
- Authentic Employee Identification: Allowing individuals to be their authentic selves in the workplace.
Identifying Bias Ongoing
The old-school method of having an “open-door policy” isn’t going to be good enough in today’s workplace. Company leaders should be routinely reaching out for feedback from every corner of the business. From new hire methods and beyond, having a continuous finger on the pulse of potential bias will allow you to identify and quickly remedy any situations before they become unmanageable.
The war on workplace bias will continue to shift and change. Keep your business in tune and promote the most inclusive company culture by leveraging these suggestions. And for any health insurance, ICHRA, and ACA Marketplace support you might need, contact W3ll.