Safeguarding Against Hiring Bias

The question is, how do you guard against the biases that get in the way?

The JRoss team have been listening to and learning about the issues currently facing our society. Our goal in this email is to talk about bias and prejudice within the hiring process so we can understand its impact and learn how to minimize or eliminate it. In this issue of our biweekly email we will touch briefly on how to check for it and how to guard against it during the recruitment journey. We feel deeply that all Canadians deserve fair and equal opportunities, and here, at JRoss Hospitality Recruiters, we are committed to doing our part to make that belief a reality.

By removing bias from our hospitality recruiting strategies – whether it be subconscious or otherwise – we will broaden our candidate pool and therefore create more room for growth. We will also deliver improved company performance. Research from McKinsey & Company has shown that a diverse workplace delivers superior results, and companies with more culturally and ethnically diverse executive teams were 33% more likely to see better-than-average profits.

Reinforcing that conclusion, another recent study from Gallup surveyed 800 business units from two companies representing both the retail and hospitality industries. The results showed that specifically gender-diverse business units faired better in terms of financial success than those dominated by one gender. Results from the study concluded that gender-diverse business units in the hospitality industry showed a 19% higher average quarterly net profit than less-diverse business units.

How to Check for it

As a recruitment agency, we have participated in thousands of searches over the years. Our experience is that there are particular methods that have proven to be especially effective in reducing or eliminating bias. Having said that, we understand that this is a complicated journey; one that we are also attempting to navigate right alongside you.

What we’ve seen is that hiring biases can take many shapes. Projection bias and affinity bias stem from an arbitrary ‘feeling’ that someone is either like-minded or shares your beliefs, and is therefore more ‘hireable’. Nonverbal biases often base their prejudice on someone’s outer appearance. Regardless of their forms, bias and resulting discrimination can implicitly embed itself into the recruitment process.

Checking for signs of implicit bias can be as simple as asking yourself or others a few simple questions. Examples could include :

  • Have I passed judgement, or do I have a preconceived notion about this candidate?
  • Am I looking for someone like-minded or similar to me, or am I truly focused on finding the best candidate for the job?
  • Am I willing to change the dynamic within my team, or am I attempting to stick with the status quo?

By asking these simple questions you can unearth any potential implicit bias that may have become embedded in your hiring process. This exercise has the potential to hugely enhance diversity in your hospitality workforce.

How to Guard Against it

While it can be useful to ask yourself some important questions, it can be equally as helpful to curate the questions you ask candidates. The Society for Human Resource Management sets out a list of practical ways to avoid bias during the hiring process. Some examples include reworking your job descriptions to avoid any stereotypical verbiage, standardizing interviews to ensure each candidate is asked the same questions, and setting diversity goals for your company to keep equality at the forefront of your mind.

A Duke University study outlined a variety of interview questions that could help an organization reach its desired inclusivity quota. They would also stimulate a healthy conversation around diversity. Some examples include :

  • How has your background and experience prepared you to be effective in an environment that holds diversity as core to our mission and values?
  • What does it mean for you to have a commitment to diversity? How have you demonstrated that commitment, and how would you see yourself demonstrating it here?
  • Tell me about a time that you adapted your style to work effectively with those who were different from you.

Placing importance on difference can be a tricky business. What we’ve found to be most effective is to ensure to never base your hiring decisions purely on the hopes of filling a quota. Rather, we believe that grounding your decision-making process on merit and suitability, while ensuring that you’ve created a diverse candidate pool from which to choose from is most successful.

Making diversity a priority has been proven to deliver economic results and increased employee morale. How much value could it deliver for you?

To learn more on this and other hospitality trends and insights you can check out our blog.