The organisation of the present and the future is diverse: gender, ethnicity, culture, age, professional path. All these elements, previously taken for granted, are at the fore-front in selection processes, with policies that support these practices and increasingly more tools that fulfil this need of the 21st century society.
Hiring new talent is a complex process itself. However, when we also want to revolutionise the way we think about people and eliminate our unconscious personal bias, the process reaches new levels of complexity.
A practice that is becoming widespread is Blind Recruiting, which consists in eliminating data that specifies certain characteristics that may cause discrimination, such as the person’s name, gender, age, hobbies and interests, academic background, and so on, and instead focuses on the candidates’ experience and skills.
Even though it is very popular now, this practice is not new. It was first used in the 1950s in the US, when the Boston Symphony Orchestra started having blind auditions to eliminate gender bias when choosing its members. The practice extended to orchestras throughout the country in the 1970s, allowing female representation increase from 5% to 30% nowadays, taking interpretation and musical skills, not gender, as the main factor for selecting individuals.
Using this model in a selection process in an organisation comes with a series of adaptations that result in less discrimination, at least in theory, during the first stages.
As mentioned before, the elimination of data that may lead to a bias is the first step. There is already software that does this, such as Gap JumpersHYPERLINK “https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/magazine/is-blind-hiring-the-best-hiring.html”, created by Kedar Iyer, an entrepreneur from Silicon Valley who noticed the same problem when selecting encoders in the IT world, leaving talent out of the equation because they did not attend renowned universities.
Other ways to incorporate Blind Recruitment is through anonymous skills tests; these can be predesigned tests, chatbots or technical tests, all of which don’t show the information we wish to exclude.
One of the current needs when hiring new talent is the famous culture fit. When we understand it as a way to find people with the same work ethic, supported by behaviour consistent with the organisation’s goals, it may be a good way to filter out applicants. Now, when culture fit is a way of perpetuating cultural hegemony, without much variety in the kind of people who make up the organisation, then it can become a place with low diversity and results coherent with this lack of plurality of visions.
While bias can be avoided in the initial stages of recruiting using these techniques, the unavoidable personal interview presents a challenge when trying to keep the selection with as little a bias as possible. This is why commitment with diversity must be within the organisation’s core values, in addition to having continuous and proper training for the recruitment teams and HR in general, as part of a global strategy of inclusion.
The Blind Recruitment theory is pretty encouraging and seems to be a simple solution for a big problem; however, heterogeneous results have been reported. Even when Google uses this technique, among many others, for its selection processes, the company’s representation figures in terms of diversity are not balanced.
That’s why measuring results allows for a better delimitation of the inclusion strategy. Knowing the current company’s structure and how the selection process is done before implementing certain measures will help you understand which practices benefit the organisation’s diversification.
Inclusion problems in talent selection come from one source: human subjectivity. That’s why technology and a conscious effort to eliminate preconceptions are strong allies for achieving culturally rich, diverse and constantly evolving organisations, driven by capable human beings and with a diversity of voices that reflect this century’s complex globalised society.