Supervisors can mitigate risk by asking
themselves if they would give the same
feedback if they were evaluating a man
and not a woman or someone white rather
than a person of color, for example.
Of course, this introspection has value
only when managers are willing to be honest with themselves. And they are often
more inclined to take a hard look within
if they understand the well-documented
business benefits that come with having
a diverse workforce. Make sure that this
point is strongly emphasized in training.
3. Implement Systemic
Consider eliminating names and
addresses (which are often associ-
ated with specific demographics) from
resumes that are passed along to hir-
ing managers. Studies have shown that,
without this unnecessary information,
women, people of color and individuals
of different ancestries are less likely to be
Another strategy is to use the same
interview questions for all candidates.
This decreases the chances that uncon-
scious bias will play a role in what is being
asked. For example, queries designed
to assess whether the individual under-
stands the value of diversity should not
be addressed only to white men, with
the unconscious—and often untrue—
assumption that they do not.
Third, ponder providing decision-
makers with phrases to describe an
applicant based on observable behaviors
rather than labels. Decision-makers can
pick which words apply and then explain
the rationale for their selection. This
approach not only helps focus people on
behavioral descriptors but also makes it
less likely that they will write down words
that suggest bias.
Finally, it is helpful, particularly with
higher-level positions, to have a diverse
team guiding hiring decisions rather than
one that is monolithic, because the former
is more likely to catch implicit biases.
These are just a few suggestions for
taming the unconscious-bias beast. Keep
your eyes and ears—and most impor-
tantly, your mind—open for other
articles, blogs and podcasts to help you
understand this elusive form of bias. And
then crush it.
Jonathan A. Segal is a
partner at Duane Morris in
Philadelphia and New York
City. Follow him on Twitter
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