The idea of implicit bias has been making its way into the business vernacular. It involves the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. As you probably gathered from the definition, implicit bias is something we all have. They are little mental shortcuts we have which can lead to discriminatory behavior.
Examples of implicit bias are found throughout the hiring process, including recruiting, interviews, and performance appraisals. I think that you will find this interview very helpful in understanding how these biases creep into our decision making.
It really breaks down the abstract to the actual behaviors and their impacts.
At this point of the blog is where I normally come up with a prescription of what to do. The only problem is that there are no good empirical studies showing how to reduce implicit bias. There are some lab studies with college students which support some short-term effectiveness, but some police departments swear that they are a waste of time. So, the jury is still out. But, there are some things you can do to reduce the opportunity for bias:
- You can (mostly) decode gender out of job postings.
- Take names off of applications before they are sent for review. The law requires that race, gender, and age information be optional on applications to help avoid discrimination. For the same reason, you should redact names on applications and resumes before they are evaluated (if they are not already being machine scored).
- If you are using pre-employment tests that do not have adverse impact, weight them more than your interviews, which are likely loaded with bias. If you insist on putting final decisions in the hands of interviewers, use a very structured process (pre-written questions, detailed scoring rubrics, etc.).
All humans have implicit biases—we want to be surrounded by our in-group. A reduction in these biases, or at least fewer opportunities to express them, will likely lead you to a more diverse, and better performing, team.