Are You Missing the Best Staffing Consultant Because of Unconscious Bias?
Discrimination You Rarely Recognize Could Be Damaging Your Business
Have you looked at your staff recently? Are your staffing consultants ‘lookalikes’, all in the same mold? If you notice this, then your staffing agency could be suffering from unconscious bias in its own recruitment strategies and organizational culture.
Are You Guilty of Discrimination?
Your answer to this question is probably going to be no. But if this is the case, why isn’t your staff more diversified? Your agency may be discriminating in its own hiring process without knowing it. This discrimination isn’t deliberate. It happens unconsciously.
What Is Unconscious Bias?
- Unconscious: You’re not aware of your thoughts or actions, they are unintentional and simply ‘happen’.
- Bias: Prejudice that is personal in nature.
Unconscious bias is difficult to identify, though we all suffer from it. Our brains make snap judgements based upon what we know (our experience, upbringing, societal background, etc.). We sometimes refer to this as instinct, though there are many different forms of unconscious bias. These include:
· Confirmation bias
You only absorb information that confirms what you already believe to be true. You take people at face value, and first impressions often make your decision for you.
· Affinity bias
You identify strongly with people who display a similar characteristic to your own. This makes you warm to them, and dictates subjective decision-making.
· Similarity bias
You hire people who are like you, believing this will be good for your company.
· Expectation anchor
You have interviewed a candidate, and believe them to be the best fit for the role. Consequently, your judgment of subsequent interviews is clouded.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of the types of unconscious bias, but should be enough to have better understanding of what may be going on under the bonnet of your organizational culture, and at individual levels, too.
Unconscious Bias Is Damaging
There have been numerous studies that show that bias in hiring results in less diverse team, and that this is bad for business. A simple search on Google will tell you all you need, but here are a few examples:
- In its 2018 research, titled ‘Delivering through Diversity’, McKinsey & Company found that diverse executive teams are one third more likely to benefit from above-average profits
- The Boston Consulting Group found that teams with above-average diversity report revenues 19% higher than those that are less diverse
- The Harvard Business Review published research in 2018 that showed better financial performance of venture capitalists with a diverse team
There are thousands of other studies, surveys, and research conducted on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. All conclude that diversity improves reputation, client relationships, productivity, sales, revenues, and profitability.
Your Unconscious Bias Harms Your Clients, and That Harms You
The staffing consultants you employ are tasked with one of the most responsible jobs in today’s market: finding the best hires for your clients.
If your staffing agency or any of your recruitment consultants suffers from unconscious bias, they are likely to be underdelivering to your clients. They won’t be hiring the best candidates because your agency is unconsciously blinded to them.
In the short term, unconscious bias means you aren’t hiring the best candidate for your staffing consultant roles. In the long term, your business could become unsustainable because your clients are underperforming because of a lack of diversity.
Your First Step to Eliminating Unconscious Bias
If you, your agency, or your staffing consultants suffer from unconscious bias, it will affect your performance. You are unlikely to hire the best recruitment consultant on every hire you make. The service you provide to clients is likely to suffer, too.
The first step to eliminating unconscious bias in your agency is to understand it and acknowledge it exists. This will make it easier to identify, as a personal issue and as an issue within your organizational culture. To increase your staff’s knowledge of the existence of and issues caused by unconscious bias, provide comprehensive training to tackle it.