No matter the size or type of business you run, you want the best employees to keep it going. You're looking for certain qualities and skills and you want to make sure you get them. Job postings on the Internet can bring in a myriad of candidates with different backgrounds. However, the words and phrases you use in those descriptions can actually limit the job pool.
Detecting unconscious bias
For your business to have a wide range of opinions and skill sets, it needs a diverse staff. People with different backgrounds create an innovative and efficient company culture. A phenomenon known as "unconscious bias" can be standing in your way of achieving that goal. Unconscious bias, also known as second-generation discrimination, can show itself in the words and phrases you use to describe the ideal candidate, as well as in how you treat employees, without you even knowing.
Words such as competitive, driven and determined appeal more to male applicants, while cooperative, honest and understanding attract women, according to CNN Money. While you may think your job posting is open to everyone, you could be wrong. The language you use could alienate half of potential applicants. Women only apply to positions for which they meet all the requirements. Men will send in their resumes if they fit at least 60 percent of them. To truly be diverse, you'll need to include both masculine and feminine-geared words so the description doesn't single anyone out. Using gender-neutral terms will also attract more men, not only women, Catherine Ashcraft, the senior research scientist for the National Center for Women in Technology, explained to TechRepublic.
Recruiters for your company should also be sure to ask the right questions during job interviews. You shouldn't be looking for employees exactly like you and the rest of the staff, Ashcraft said. Instead, your questions should target the applicants' skills and abilities. You want workers who can perform the tasks efficiently and accurately, not ones who just fit the company image.
Unconscious bias is tough to defeat because, as the term says, it's unconscious. You may not realize you're doing it, but others will, even if it's not obvious. The best way to combat this problem is to make sure you and your employees are aware of it. You should work several strategies into your financial plan to accomplish this.
Monitoring your workplace, recruitment and retention will provide insight into how deeply involved your company is with unconscious bias. Do you have more men than women? What roles do each fill? Who's applying to your company? Once you've answered these general questions and others like them, you'll be able to determine what you're doing wrong, TechRepublic explained. However, you may not notice some patterns until you participate in some sort of training program, which can go a long way in teaching you how to detect unconscious bias. Ashcraft's program involves role playing aspects, which allow employees of different backgrounds to see things from other's perspectives, as well as other activities that encourage discussion and problem solving.
Software showing employers words and phrases that could be problematic in job postings also exists. The program will highlight the words and explain why it should be replaced using evidence from previous studies, according to CNN Money. It will also let you create interview questions and review resumes all within the system. Employers rank which qualities and skills are most important to them and software will scan applicants' resumes for those abilities and experiences while ignoring anything else, such as where someone went to school, which could cause bias.
While you may not realize it, your unconscious bias can affect your business. Knowing what it is and how to reverse it will ensure you get the best candidates and employees at your company.