Strategies for Mitigating Unconscious Bias in Hiring and Promotions

March 25, 2024 Human Resources

Unconscious bias in employment-related decision-making can have negative outcomes for all parties involved. This is true at all stages of the employment process, from recruiting and hiring to promotions and reductions in force. Fortunately, there are several steps that companies can take to mitigate unconscious bias in their workplaces.

Mitigating unconscious bias starts with acknowledging that the problem exists (or may exist) inherently within a company’s policies, practices and procedures. Since, unconscious bias is, by its nature, unintentional, companies may adopt biased practices without realizing it. This means that addressing the issue requires a nuanced approach that looks not only at the intent behind a company’s actions, but also at these actions’ effects.

5 Tips for Identifying and Addressing Unconscious Bias

With this in mind, what can (and should) companies do to mitigate unconscious bias in their workplaces? Here are some tips for getting started:

1. Review the Company’s Job Descriptions

Job descriptions are frequently tainted by unconscious bias. To avoid this issue, companies should craft their job descriptions with generic and inclusive language (i.e., referring to the “candidate” instead of “he” or “she”), and they should ensure that their job descriptions do not inherently favor individuals with characteristics that are unrelated to the essential functions of the job.

2. Review the Company’s Interview Questions and Procedures

Companies should review their interview questions and procedures for similar concerns. Job interviews should focus only on candidates’ qualifications for the job in question. As the Harvard Business School explains, “Candidates may not own computers that are compatible with Zoom backgrounds, could be sharing living space with limited private quiet areas, or managing multiple responsibilities including child or elder care. None of these factors impact how well a candidate could do the job.”

3. Ensure Standardization of All Recruitment and Hiring Practices

Standardizing recruitment and hiring practices will help to prevent deviations that reflect (or result in) unconscious bias. All companies should have documented human resources policies and procedures, and they should conduct training programs to ensure that all personnel who are involved in employment-related decision-making follow these policies and procedures consistently.

4. Ensure Standardization of All Promotion and Other Employment-Related Decisions

Just as companies’ recruitment and hiring practices should be standardized, their policies and practices for making promotion and other employment-related decisions should be standardized as well. Training is important here, too, as managers and supervisors need to be aware of the risks of unconscious bias (and how to avoid them).

5. Conduct “Blind” Assessments and Comparisons

Finally, an effective way to eliminate unconscious bias from many employment-related decisions is to conduct “blind” assessments and comparisons. By examining job candidates’ or employees’ credentials anonymously, and by comparing resumes without candidates’ or employees’ names attached, decisionmakers can ensure that they are focusing solely on qualifications that are relevant to the decision in question.

Do You Have Concerns About Unconscious Bias at Your Company? We Can Help

If you would like to know more about the steps involved in mitigating unconscious bias, we encourage you to get in touch. To schedule an appointment with a human resources consultant at AR Group, please call 720-452-3300 or tell us how we can reach you online today.