Increase Diversity by Reducing Unconscious Bias

It’s an ironic contrast. Silicon Valley drives the interconnected global economy, and yet our workforce suffers from a lack of diversity. In particular, gender diversity remains a challenge for many companies, even as our country prepares for the possible election of its first female president.

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stereotype contrasted to diversity concept

How Unconscious Bias Impacts Diversity

Over fifty years ago, the civil rights movement spearheaded decades of change to reduce overt discrimination. In the present day, as we move toward a more inclusive workforce, one of our main adversaries is less obvious: unconscious bias.

Simply put, unconscious bias in the workplace refers to unintentional perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors which result in practices and hiring decisions that adversely impact specific social groups. The challenge of unconscious bias is that it can perpetuate dynamics in which power and influence remain concentrated among a select, non-diverse group of individuals. For example, a very high percentage of Fortune 500 CEOs are white males. Increased awareness of unconscious bias can result in more diverse hiring, work assignment, and professional interactions.

Identifying Unconscious Bias in Job Descriptions

Unconscious bias often appears unnoticed in job descriptions. Did you know that certain words (particularly adjectives, but sometimes verbs) have been identified as “gender-coded?” This means that they subtly favor one gender over the other by reinforcing social stereotypes. For example, “assertive” may be gender-coded toward men, whereas “nurturing” may be gender-coded toward women.

Here is a simple online tool to help decode your job descriptions and reduce unconscious bias. By developing job posts that are free of bias, you will expand the opportunity to attract diverse candidates who will bring unique backgrounds and perspectives into your organization.

Reducing Bias in Candidate Selection

When it comes to reviewing resumes, recommends that you place two or more resumes side by side for a direct comparison of skills and experience, rather than looking at each candidate individually. Alternatively, you can partner with outside recruiters, such as the Recruiting Experts at Menlo Partners Staffing, for a point-counterpoint discussion of candidates with someone who is detached from your organization’s culture and may be able to identify your blind spots.

Take the Next Step Toward a More Diverse Workforce

The San Francisco Bay Area is a leader of thought and innovation in our country and around the world. Improving workforce diversity by reducing unconscious bias will create increased opportunities for people of all backgrounds. To continue this discussion and how it applies to your company, contact the AIRS-certified recruitment specialists at Menlo Partners Staffing today! Thanks for reading.


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