In 2018, less than a quarter of industries like science and technology held female employees in the U.K. While society has reduced this gender gap, and the government continues to work hard to improve the situation, gender bias is still prevalent and plaguing many industries today.
Improving gender equality within your company is vital. While there are multiple elements to consider tackling (think pay, benefits, company culture etc.) a great place to start is at the beginning, with the interview process. Removing gender bias in interviews will be a starting point for building a more gender-diverse company. But how do you improve your processes?
In this guide, we aim to provide you with advice you can easily apply in practice to minimise gender bias in interviews. Before that, however, we need to consider how gender bias negatively impacts companies in the first place.
What Is Gender Bias and How Does It Harm Companies?
Gender bias stems from the predisposed stereotypes and notions about different genders (women are emotional and fragile, men are strong and aggressive, etc.). These thoughts can lead hiring managers to turn away qualified candidates of a particular gender if they think they are not "built" to handle the demands of a specific industry.
Double standards for displayed traits also apply here. For example, think about how ambition is prided in men but seen as cunning and untrustworthy in women.
By making assumptions based on gender, there's potential to miss the best talent. However, even more concerning is a lack of diversity within a company is self-limiting, only seeing things from one angle. In a multicultural world, businesses need insights from multiple viewpoints to encourage growth and profit. In the long run, companies will end up with decreased profits, wasted training time, and higher turnover rates if they don't work to improve their balance of diversity.
Avoiding Gender Bias In Interviews
1) Gender Bias Training
Learning about equity, equality and the importance of diverse teams in the workplace will help those involved in the interview process to appreciate the relevance of gender bias. You can use training sessions to help interviewers recognise and deconstruct the inherent biases they may hold.
2) Structured interviews
Though unstructured interviews have their strengths, they are also more likely to allow unfair preconceptions to creep in and influence decisions. Looking at hard objective facts will help deliver a better verdict on which applicants to hire.
Use structured interviews that:
• Have a predetermined list to grade applicants by. These lists can include an applicant's body language and other factors that are important but usually not objectively graded.
• Ask the same questions of all candidates in a matching order and format.
• Grade the responses using pre-specified, standardised criteria. A standardised format makes responses comparable and reduces the impact of unconscious bias.
3) Multi-person interview panels
To alleviate one person's inherent bias, you should consider bringing multiple people in as a panel to consult on the hiring instead of a singular person. That way, you're getting a more comprehensive range of voices in the room.
4) Diverse interview panels
Concerning the above point, using a diverse interview panel may also be beneficial. Opinions from a diverse panel will improve the outcome of decision making. It may also feel less intimidating for female or non-binary candidates, allowing them to showcase their strengths within the interview stage. More evidence around this is needed, but having a diverse panel is undoubtedly far from negative.
5) Skill-based assessments
Rather than relying solely on interviews, skill-based assessment tasks in recruitment can help reduce emotionally motivated hiring decisions. However, from our consultant's experiences, asking candidates to perform pre-interview tasks is time-consuming and often not viewed favourably, sometimes putting off applicants. The use of this method, therefore, needs to be carefully thought through.
Bonus Strategies Pre Interview
Some companies find doing blind interviews a practical way to get rid of bias. Removing any hint of gender from resumes before presenting them to hiring managers will avoid judgment based on gender pre-interview stage.
Evidence has shown that bringing more women to interview in the first place has also helped companies improve their gender balance. Possibly from gaining more experience interviewing women or seeing a new view of what the female candidate can offer, which isn't easy to see on paper alone. Whatever the reason, there has been strong evidence for continuing this practice.
Finally, using an outside company, such as a recruitment agency like ourselves, to find and filter talent can also help. Our teams are aware of the importance and presence of gender bias and know how to reduce it at the selection stage. By minimising the use of male coded language, ensuring adverts are formatted in specific ways, as well as other methods, we can extend the appeal of jobs across genders. We can then provide you with a pool of the best talent without bias getting in the way.
Now Get Recruiting
Eliminating gender bias in interviews is just one small step in the process of creating a more diverse and robust workplace. But it's a vital step non the less. So if you're looking for a pool of pre-selected applicants with gender bias removed from the equation or want more advice on hiring within User Experience, Product Management, Development, DevOps or Data Science; you can contact us to learn more.