Recently I touched on Unconscious Bias. And I’m going to bring it up again because it’s so important in recruitment.
As a recruiter, it’s something I’ve been aware of for a long time, and as a result, it’s been one of my greatest loathes for as long. But I can’t say I wasn’t even guilty of it myself. Because we all are, it’s human nature. We’re programmed to go with what we know. Most of us spend years building up a little database of knowledge in our heads––from our surroundings, our experiences and the people we have known. And as a result, we have formed these subtle little leanings toward certain people or experiences. These are our unconscious biases.
Although I said most people have them and they’re nothing to be ashamed of, they really aren’t anything you want to hold onto either. In fact, for business owners, leaders and managers (and recruiters!) they can become your biggest enemy. You see what you are doing when you let your unconscious bias live on, usually unbeknownst to you, is narrowing your options and worse yet, narrowing your potential to grow and thrive in the real world.
Because, hello, the real world is not the one you’ve created in your head over the years, while comfortable, that world is too small to realise the myriad opportunities out there.
More specifically when it comes to recruiting, you could be, and most probably are, missing out on some great candidates simply because you’re narrowing your search too much.
A recent paper studying implicit bias, another term for unconscious bias, looked more specifically at the detrimental effects of unconscious bias on gender equality.
“A focus on implicit bias ultimately obscures the many interconnecting layers of gender inequity and hampers opportunities for meaningful and lasting change.”
Gender equality is a huge one, but there are many types of biases at play when you’re not attuned to your unconscious, such as cultural, racial, social and, as I spoke of in my recent video, even age-based!
Again, it’s not really something you have any control over––unless you become aware of it and are ready to change. In saying that, now that you’re aware of your unconscious bias, I’d like to give you a few pointers on just how to overcome them. Trust me, it will open your world up and your business will benefit.
How to de-rail your unconscious bias…
- Be mindful.
In order to recognise and derail any unconscious bias, you need to slow all your processes down. Never hire or make important recruitment decisions in a hurry. Be very aware of all of your options and question your own quick decisions. Recognise where your biases may be leaning to and remain conscious of that when making decisions.
- Expose yourself.
Once you’ve recognised your biases and are being true to yourself, you need to begin to break down those leanings. To do this, seek out and expose yourself to the opposite of the stereotypes you have moulded yourself around. For instance, if you have a tendency to automatically think certain genders are better at certain roles, seek out several examples of the opposite, so you can start to even out your biases.
- See the person, not the idea.
Start to look deeper into people. Take the time to look beyond your own initial evaluation––which is most likely your unconscious bias and give them merit-based on evidence they are presenting not your own biased expectations. This should be an easy one if you’ve begun to practice the above two points!