Role of HR
If you want to help eradicate selection bias within your own organisation, there are several steps you can take, suggests Keating. Review your person specifications and remove all unnecessary requirements that act as job filters or ways of narrowing your talent pool. Then only choose images and text that will appeal to a broad range of possible candidates. “Research shows that minority groups respond to adverts that reflect their social identity. But ensure that any case studies you use as part of selection tests do not favour any particular group,” she adds.
Keating also suggests you set diversity targets for recruitment agencies. “If you don’t ask you don’t get,” she says. “Without direction from their clients, there will be little motivation for recruitment agencies to field a wide range of talented candidates.”
Finally, be aware of the ‘halo effect’ – this operates at an unconscious level and allows candidates to pass through a ‘favourable filter’, by sending unconscious codes about who they are and their relationship to the interviewers, says Keating.
Keating believes HR can influence staff and managers/leaders within organisations through training, workshops or coaching and mentoring.
She adds: “Although specific unconscious bias training is in its infancy in the UK, several organisations have asked their staff to take ‘Implicitly’ – an online test of their people preferences. They are taking this forward into their people management processes and incorporating it into leadership training, to great effect.”
When it comes to equality, inclusion and diversity, Tulsiani believes the level of sophistication within HR varies wildly from one business to another. “The issue is not lack of effort or procedures; it is the lack of applied insight and business relevance. Until the business understands at board level how diversity can help them achieve their primary aims as a business, HR has a thankless task to best create the conditions for competitive advantage through diversity.”