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How To Remove Unconscious Bias From The Recruiting Process

Diverse and inclusive workforces benefit all organizations at every level. By leveraging fresh and different perspectives, an organization can create a more intentional and inclusive environment for its employees and a better experience for its customers. Diversity and inclusion have been at the forefront of recruiting for over 10 years, but only recently implemented into standard recruitment practices. One of the unspoken challenges when recruiting diverse talent, aside from a narrow talent pool, is the ability for organizations, private equity firms, and HR decision makers to remove their own unconscious biases from the recruiting life cycle. Below are a few best practices we implement when partnering with organizations and private equity firms for hiring more diverse leaders and teams.




Start With Sourcing.

When hiring for a more diverse workforce, begin by removing unconscious bias at the very beginning of the recruitment process. Some trade associations, universities, and talent sourcing platforms allow for unbiased sourcing by searching strictly for skills and qualifications that best match those required for a role. Candidate profiles and resumes are then indexed, presented and scored in an anonymized way based upon these attributes. Screening for candidates in this way is critical at the very beginning of a search since unconscious bias can easily influence the decision-making process based upon gender, education, and name.


Create Equity Through Access

With diversity talent already scarce at every level in the workforce, finding diverse candidates and talent at the senior leadership level presents an even more challenging mandate. When we partner with organizations and private equity firms we take our role and responsibility to remove unconscious bias very seriously. To attract more diversity talent beyond our immediate networks and pipelines - we carefully assess the position profile to eliminate any words or phrases that may prevent a diversity candidate from considering the opportunity. We also post these key hire positions to our job boards. While this is an uncommon practice for hiring senior leadership roles that may require discretion - we have found that it creates more equitable access and opportunity for diverse candidates to be exposed to these opportunities, who may not have appeared within our sourcing and research efforts.


Remove Bias As Late As Possible In The Recruitment Life Cycle

Once we have screened and conducted preliminary interviews we compile our long list of qualified, interested, and available candidates to share with the hiring manager and client. If a client is looking specifically to shortlist and hire a diversity candidate, we redact any key identifier information from all candidate profiles and resumes by removing full names, gender data, pronouns, photos, etc. As a result, we can fairly present all candidates on a level playing field without unconscious bias working its way into the recruitment process. After we advise and help our clients narrow it down to a smaller group of top candidates, we then reveal the candidates’ identities in our Shortlist. There are a few areas in the recruitment process where you can truly remove unconscious bias, and the early stages of talent attraction and candidate presentation are ideal phases to implement this.


Remain Objective and Unbiased During Interviews

As the recruitment life cycle moves toward interviewing one-on-one, it becomes even more challenging to keep unconscious bias out of the hiring and decision-making process. To help internal interviewers keep their unconscious bias in check, we encourage all internal stakeholders that are interviewing candidates to withhold from sharing their feedback with one another until interviews have concluded. This practice allows for all internal stakeholders to form their own opinion of a candidate’s qualification and cultural fit free from influence or prejudgement during the interview process.


Hire For Best Athlete Talent Over Corporate Succession

When it comes to finding and selecting the right diversity candidates at any level, the talent pool is already fairly limited. Organizations and private equity firms sometimes will weigh experience and professional career trajectory more heavily than skills, qualification, and fit. The best diversity candidate will always be the “best athlete” that has proven performance, leadership and skills rather than the ideal corporate pedigree. Best athlete talent is agile and can grow within the role and is more likely to bring the right leadership style and traits. When we work with organizations and private equity firms, they will sometimes require candidates to have worked at one or more prestigious organizations, such as a Fortune 100 company. In the end we advise clients that basing a hiring decision off of these accolades and corporate benchmarks can be a misstep, and they are likely overlooking the best athlete talent that will more readily succeed in the role.


In some cases, it is difficult for organizations and private equity firms to remove unconscious bias from their internal recruiting process. As a result, organizations and companies will partner with an external recruiting firm to gain wider access to talent and counteract the innate nature of unconscious bias. Chapel Hill Solutions partners with organizations and private equity firms by providing retained search services to manage the entire search and recruitment process or Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) services which outsource all or part of the recruitment process.


Learn more about RPO here.



About The Author


With over 10 years of experience in search and business operations, Julian is a highly diligent and efficient marketer and operations manager. He is a proven leader who combines creative thinking and strong communications with operational strategy, business development, recruitment operations, and digital marketing.


Julian joined Chapel Hill Solutions to modernize the recruitment industry’s approach. He is passionate about creating a transparent and collaborative relationship with his clients.


Connect with Julian on LinkedIn.

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