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Why We Use 'Blind Hiring' In Our Talent Selection Process

15/06/2016 8:43 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST
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The debate around the lack of diversity in the workplace is gaining momentum, particularly the underrepresentation of women. McKinsey's 2015, 'Women in the Workplace' report highlights gender bias as a major factor contributing to the imbalance between women and men at work. Furthermore, a study by the National Academy of Science revealed that both male and female hirers were twice as likely to select a man over a woman for a job in academic science.

Tackling gender inequality and promoting diversity can result in more women joining the workforce which could add $12 trillion to the world economy over the next decade, says a report by McKinsey Global Institute. The same report stated India's annual GDP would increase by 16% if more women joined the workforce.

Diversity in the workplace is about bringing in genuine balance and a fair mix of people from diverse education backgrounds, cultures, ethnic groups, with varied experiences, personalities and thinking hats. Many question why workforce diversity is still lagging behind and hiring gaps persist, even when economic and business growth continue to surge. The answer lies in the way companies recruit and hire people.

The first step to eliminating selection bias and kick-starting blind hiring is to request candidates to provide nameless resumes, test submissions and project work.

How does a traditional hiring process work? A manager posts an ad, providing details about the job requirements, skills and experience sought in a candidate. Then, a bunch of people apply and submit their resumes, which the manager sifts through and identifies the ones of interest. The manager may recruit a candidate based on a set of criteria, including geographical location, educational qualifications, the university or institution the candidate attended, or even on the basis of their name.

There are three main biases that have a great impact on the hiring process.

• Firstly, the implicit bias -- categorization of names into sex, race, religion and so on.

• Secondly, confirmation bias -- having preconceived ideas or beliefs about a candidate and taking this bias into interviews.

• Thirdly, the similarity bias; hiring someone with a similar demographic background to the recruiter.

Unconscious biases shape hiring decisions, highlighting the need for an immediate review of the end-to-end recruitment and hiring techniques used by companies.

We have integrated blind hiring as we feel strongly about promoting and embracing talent diversity.

"Blind hiring" is an effective hiring technique that eliminates the subjectivity and bias of traditional processes. Candidates are selected on the basis of talents and skills, rather than just educational background or prior experience.

GapJumpers is a software which uses "blind audition" principles in the form of "challenges" to evaluate the performance of potential candidates, rather than evaluating the keywords on their resume. Created by Petar Vujosevic, Kedar Iyer and Ashray Baruah, who had all been victims of bias in hiring, GapJumpers assists companies in finding a diverse, integrated and talented workforce. Blind auditioning is more famously seen on the reality TV show The Voice, where the judges have their backs turned away from the singers. A decision to send a contestant to the next stage of the competition is based on the their vocal skills rather than their appearance. Similarly, blind hiring techniques seek to omit selection bias by removing information such as the applicant's name, educational qualifications, age or any such information that could evoke preconceived notions. Blind hiring places emphasis on the applicant's ability, skills and talent.

It is important to foster an organizational culture that values skills and performance and appreciates different perspectives, viewpoints and opinions.

Blind hiring can greatly enhance traditional hiring processes, and can seamlessly integrate as an additional phase or step in the overall hiring lifecycle. It is not a phase that replaces or affects other key phases, like one-on-one interviews. Instead, it seeks to offer a viable alternative to the traditional methods of resume selection and referrals.

The likes of Mozilla, HSBC and the BBC have all introduced blind hiring in their organizations. We have integrated blind hiring at GrowthEnabler, as we feel strongly about promoting and embracing talent diversity. We urge other entrepreneurs and founders to do the same. The first step to eliminating selection bias and kick-starting blind hiring is to request candidates to provide nameless resumes, test submissions and project work. It is important to foster an organizational culture that values skills and performance and appreciates different perspectives, viewpoints and opinions. Diversity is not limited to race, age and sex, it extends to skills, viewpoints and personalities too. Blind hiring can transform the hiring paradigm, making it objective and impartial at its core. A workplace that boasts of having a diverse workforce is likely to attract great talent and customers alike.

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