6 Tips To Reduce Unconscious Bias In Hiring Practices And Strengthen C-Suite Diversity

Building a team to drive the company toward a sustainable future means taking the time to find the best fit for right now and for future growth

Diversity initiatives are everywhere in hiring, but so is the impact of unconscious bias. As HR departments and hiring teams look to find the right people for C-Suite positions, it can be easy to fall into old patterns of search behavior that may limit the definition of what would make someone a successful candidate. Rather than encouraging a new global perspective to keep the company current, these practices, rooted in unconscious bias, are more likely to stagnate innovation and growth. As marketplaces evolve and technology accelerates, companies need to examine and redesign their hiring practices to reduce the influence of unconscious bias and create a stronger C-Suite and workplace comprised of diverse people and ideas.

When companies rush to hire candidates quickly so they can get on with business, they often rely on tried and true search and recruitment to complete the task. But building a team to drive the company toward a sustainable future means taking the time to find the best fit for right now and for future growth. Diversity should be about more than checking off boxes. Statistically, diversity translates to increased profitability because it indicates a company’s readiness to consider broader perspectives and more nimble approaches to problems. While an increasing number of hiring managers appreciate the value of working toward this goal, unconscious bias can still find a way to negatively affect hiring decisions.

What’s especially difficult about unconscious bias is that people tend to be unaware of certain preferences they have and the external factors that influence them. Human minds are primed to respond to recognizable cues, creating tendencies toward certain attributes and against others. Yet while biases have a way of precluding new perspectives, and could ultimately make the company obsolete, experience with diversity can be an effective factor in reducing bias on a personal level. Companies like Microsoft and Amazon have shown their ability to remain nimble and adapt by prioritizing growth through new ideas that come from hiring outside of traditionally accepted demographics. The reality is that everyone is predisposed to certain conditioned biases, but their impact can be lessened when hiring teams make adjustments to their processes.

To hire the person who is truly the best fit for the role, these 6 actionable steps toward a more holistic search can aid companies in reducing unconscious bias in their recruiting and hiring practices:

  • Company Culture Assessment. Being able to gauge current executives’ priorities will help determine the company’s true needs when making the next C-Suite hire, though many are surprised to learn the executives may not always be on the same page. By performing an in-house assessment of the organization’s values and objectives, the hiring team will be more effective in identifying the essential elements of a candidate profile for the specific role.
  • Blind Resume Review. First impressions are a big part of unconscious bias, which is often the case when hiring teams review the elements of an application package. Unfortunately, names, pictures, etc. can influence decision making and trigger some of the barriers that prevent the development of diversity. At Miramar Global, the technology platform we use to track executive search progress removes these details so companies can focus on how skills and accomplishments actually fit with the updated candidate profile.
  • Marketplace Research. Taking a comprehensive approach to reducing unconscious bias and increasing diversity requires a thorough assessment of the marketplace. Researching competitors’ team compositions and identifying trends across the industry provide real information and greater exposure to alternative practices. Increasing knowledge and experience also help to make the transition to new expectations a little easier.
  • Chief Diversity Officer. In a homogenous workplace, who is the expert on increasing and supporting diversity? For some companies, adding an executive responsible for diversity initiatives helps to remind everyone to examine their biases on a consistent basis. A CDO guides the development of company culture so that new hires feel welcomed and supported in their growth.
  • Campus-Level Initiatives. The best way to ensure a diverse pool of qualified candidates is to invest in them. Sponsoring or participating in collegiate programs that focus on STEM training can help to identify potential candidates for the future and foster a deeper sense of the company’s culture. Access also helps to level the playing field for underrepresented groups.
  • Equal Pay. While this may seem like a given to some, wage gaps still plague the American workforce. Equal pay and representation are critical to building a more diverse team as they cycle on themselves- developing more opportunities for people and more people who are qualified to take on the opportunities.

 

While it is nearly impossible to remove all bias from hiring practices, the time has long passed for companies to rely on existing biases to determine the best C-Suite candidates. Diverse executives bring diverse ideas for growth, and no company can afford to sustain preconceived notions and isolated perspectives in an increasingly global marketplace.

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