Part I -- Beware the Bias Risks Inherent in Applicant Screening
Organizations that embrace diversity, equity and inclusion enable ALL employees to make meaningful contributions that advance the organization’s mission. Employers who practice diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) improve their ability to address challenges, compete for top talent, and respond to customers from all walks of life. Many of today’s organizations strive to build and enforce DEI-focused hiring practices and company policies.
Unfortunately, bias can easily creep into the selection process and undermine all these good intentions. Bias can get to the point that Human Resources employees only bring in the same type of people as themselves. If HR personnel only select applicants who think, look, and act like them, then the company will miss out on the diverse knowledge, experience, and skills that others can contribute.
Minimizing selection bias in recruitment and advertising
Employee selection bias starts long before the interview process. Minimizing selection bias in recruitment and advertising is the first step to ensure diversity in the workplace.
Where and how does your organization advertise for candidates? A 15dots client in the Philadelphia area (where there’s a large minority population) had an almost exclusively white workforce. When we asked, “What do you do to attract candidates when you have openings?” their reply was, “We just put the word out on the shop floor.” No wonder they lacked diversity in the organization. Therefore, they missed out on the diverse input that employees different than themselves bring.
Minimizing Selection Bias in Screening Applications/Resumes
As hard as we may try to stay unbiased when reviewing resumes and screening applications, bias can creep in. Some organizations continue to use screens that don’t allow potentially outstanding performers to even be considered.
True Story of a Faulty Screening Process
For example, 15dots helped an organization reselect the workforce for a paper mill restart on the West Coast. We told the HR group to liberally screen candidates, using the following criteria:
a) two years of full-time or part-time work experience
b) a high school diploma or GED
c) a complete and legible job application
However, the HR group decided to screen the candidates differently. Instead of having two piles – those that met the employment criteria and those that didn’t – there was an additional third pile. The HR leader screened out the candidates that he arbitrarily didn’t think would be successful.
15dots marked the candidates in the third pile and added them to the accepted pile. Not surprisingly, the selection ratio of these candidates was remarkably similar to the selection ratio of candidates who met the screening criteria. On a side note, one of the mill’s top performers in the selected group was a woman with job experience as a chef. She never would have been considered for a role in the organization if the HR leader’s more restrictive screening measures were used.
When in doubt during the employee screening process, leave a candidate in the process and allow the power of ability tests and a structured board interview to do their work.
Watchouts When Screening for Manufacturing Roles
When screening for operations/hourly positions, manufacturing organizations can build diversity by appropriately screening candidates. Here are three screening factors to consider:
- Manufacturing Experience: Screening for manufacturing experience disproportionally screens out female candidates. Therefore, if you want a diverse workforce that includes women, consider screening not just manufacturing experience but also for other workplace and life experience as well.
- Years of Experience: Screening for years of experience ignores the fact that candidates may have many years of experience, but they still aren’t good at what they do. Thus, despite their years of experience, they would not be a good fit for the role.
- Educational Requirements: Screening for educational requirements can arbitrarily eliminate exceptional talent. Years of formal education are a poor predictor of performance.
Fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion within organizations isn’t simply a feel-good, morally acceptable goal to write into a business plan. DEI also gives organizations a strategic advantage. By striving to minimize selection bias in recruitment, advertising, and applicant screening, companies can benefit from the contributions of a diverse workforce. Hiring candidates with diverse experiences and perspectives brings a wealth of skills and knowledge into the organization.
Contact us today to learn about the 15dots® Selection Process to repeatedly, reliably and independently choose the right hires for your organization.
Also, check out the 15Dots’ Quick Reference: Ways to Minimize Selection Bias for more information about minimizing employee selection bias.