Rhett Lindsey, founder and chief executive officer of Siimee, discusses the roots of hiring bias, and details the change in mindset that companies need to undergo in order to eliminate it.
Much of the bias that occurs in the hiring process is unconscious, Lindsey says. “It’s rooted in who we are. We all have at some level been biased — it’s ingrained.” Eliminating that impulse requires a “rewiring and reengineering of the fundamentals of how we look at people, evaluate their backgrounds and focus on their skillsets.”
Bias might arise based on multiple characteristics of an applicant, including name, gender, education and workplace experience. Even modern technology aids like artificial intelligence are part of the problem if they’re designed to reflect their programmer’s bias. That’s one reason why so many otherwise qualified candidates never even get to the interview stage. According to Lindsey, 75% of all resumes get discarded.
Traditional hiring managers are focused on “what” a candidate is — the cold facts of his or her educational and work experience. Lindsey says it’s important to understand “who we are.” Too often job seekers get instantly labeled or places into boxes that prevent them from being fairly considered for a position.
The idea, says Lindsey, is to replace the notion of cultural “fit” with one of cultural “add.” “You want to make sure you’re looking at a holistic profile.” One way to achieve that within an organization is to build a community of employment relations groups (ERGs), consisting of like-minded individuals across job functions. Such a strategy can help to offset the isolation of employees who don’t conform to the profile of the majority, or the management structure.
“Inclusion is the connector between diversity and opportunity,” Lindsey says. “We need to implement that mindset.”
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