Biased culture breeds biased culture, and failure

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Written by Sabby Gill, Chief Executive Officer, Thomas International

Having a diverse, unbiased and inclusive workplace has never been more crucial. Diverse minds breed diverse problem solving, better employee engagement, productivity and more. What was once, wrongly, seen and dealt with as merely window dressing, has become a critical issue for businesses.

However, many companies continue to recruit new employees based on ‘cultural fit’, often hiring people who share a similar background. This identi-kit office culture, paired with unconscious biases, continues to present issues throughout the recruitment process. And these issues could lead to business failure.

According to a recent study commissioned by Culture Shift, 79 percent of UK employees confirmed that working at a company with a diverse team of staff is an important factor for their happiness at work. The same study also revealed that almost half (46 percent) of Britain’s workforce think their employer could make a greater effort when it comes to diversity, with 58 percent of employees from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds agreeing with this sentiment.

Taking action to build inclusive workplaces is a way to build a strong identity within your organisation, opening up your business to new perspectives, opportunities and creating balance within the organisation as a whole. But there still remain issues and challenges for British businesses when it comes to ensuring their hiring process is inclusive and fair.


The issue of unconscious bias

Many businesses still lead their hiring strategy based on the principle of whether the candidate is a ‘cultural fit’. But this approach can very often lead to a homologous workforce, due to the very nature of this practice. And often this approach can lead to failure, rather than success. It leads to too many people thinking and acting the same, substantially reducing innovative, different thinking.

Even in 2020, against a backdrop of greater awareness around D&I, there is still the opportunity for unconscious bias to form the basis of too many recruitment decisions. This can be the case even if HR personnel and interviewers make a conscious effort to approach their hiring processes with open minds.


Data over gut decisions

Still too many decisions are made by hiring managers and businesses based on gut feel. More hiring decisions need to be based on objective data and insights into a person’s skills, and what makes and defines a good team.

Seeing beyond what the candidate looks and sounds like, or where they come from, and focusing on personality traits, experiences, attitude and more will help to mitigate and break down a biased workforce.

Understanding what makes a good team culture is also important. If hiring managers and business leaders know what traits and experience make up the perfect team, they can work back from there.

Businesses also need to standardise their hiring process, ensuring they are measuring everybody against the same standards, as opposed to a broader cultural fit. Taking a data driven approach to hiring is key to removing human biases from the equation and enabling fairer hiring practices.


Tools that get the job done

To answer the requirement of better diversity and inclusion in the hiring process, businesses have to use better assessment tools that do not discriminate against people based on age, gender, ethnicity and other personal characteristics.

By removing the elements which cause unconscious bias such as, gender, race, age, religion, disability and sexual orientation at the application stage, you are creating a wider recruitment pool to select candidates from.

One of the best ways to ensure that screening is taken seriously and conducted with the applicants’ best interests at heart is to incorporate blind applications, and use assessment tools that enable hiring managers to create a job profile and match candidates skills and potential against that profile.


Ending the ‘cultural fit’ bias

While hiring based on personal preferences and gut instinct may have been commonplace in the past, a recruitment process that is reliant on finding the ‘best cultural fit’ is no longer relevant today. Because diversity matters to a business’ bottom line, too. A 2017 study by Cloverpop revealed that inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time, teams that follow an inclusive process make decisions twice as fast with half the meetings, and decisions made and executed by diverse teams delivered 60% better results.

As companies evaluate their D&I policies to create a more inclusive work environment, the place to start is by deploying the right tools to ensure a fairer recruitment process. Because greater diversity in a company leads to greater diversity in a culture. It breeds more contentment, but also better performance. And now’s never been a better time to start hiring better.

Originally posted here
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