#OZREC 6: Tackling unconscious bias in the recruitment process

Tackling unconscious bias in the recruitment process: “Bosses tend to recruit in their own image”, could unconscious bias be only the tip of the iceberg?

The recent decision (May 2014) by the Bank of Queensland to remove all identifying factors – name, age, gender, address – from its job application process, suggests companies do still see established patterns of behaviours based on bias, influencing decisions in recruitment, promotion and performance management.

The bank’s human resources general manager, Ian Doyle, said that said the move was designed to address unconscious bias in candidate selection for senior and executive roles.  “Bosses tend to recruit in their own image”, Mr Doyle said.

If “people tend to recruit like themselves”, is removing all identifying factors the best strategy to promote fairness and objectivity in candidate selection?

Granted there are still politically incorrect leaders, discriminatory HR practitioners and biased recruiters operating today, but most would genuinely believe they call for fairness and objectivity in their recruiting process. Most organisations have policies and procedures designed to fight ignorance and minimise the impact of unconscious bias in the workplace.  Having said this, the extent of bias is still difficult to quantify, partly due to unconscious drives affecting people’s agendas.  Very much like an iceberg, 80% of what occur in our mind, happen below the surface, just outside our awareness.

As our human decision process is not as rational and logical as historically understood by psychologists, is recruitment freed of decisions based on bias an achievable goal?

  1. Do people tend to recruit like themselves?
  2. Can we fight bias with numbers and quotas?
  3. What would be the best strategy to promote fairness and objectivity in candidate selection?
  4. Are we winning the war?


Corporate shotCorinne Torres, La Coach Extraordinaire  join the #OZrec and #NZLead community regularly from Brisbane, Australia.  She created Results Coaching Pty Ltd in 2007 to deliver EQ/EI coaching and well-being programs in the workplace.  Her vision was to create emotional health for all, through emotional freedom and psychological transformation beyond negative unconscious influences. The positive and consistent results I achieved with my signature programs have awakened new aspirations and possibilities. Corrine is working on a new brand to reflect her new direction and vision.  This is terribly exciting.  Stay tuned! Twitter:

Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/untitlism/22800371/in/photostream/

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