Eliminate Bias in Hiring to Combat Low Unemployment

At nearly full employment for certain pockets of the population, we need to look at typically under served workers as potential hires to fill the demand.

US unemployment in the 2nd Quarter stood at 3.5%. This is the lowest rate since the 1960s. It caps the culmination of the trend starting in 2010. However, this rate isn't equal. At nearly full employment for certain pockets of the population, we need to look at typically under served workers as potential hires to fill the demand.

Young African American Unemployment Remains Stubbornly High

source: tradingeconomics.com

We've talked before about unretirement and job hunting amongst the elderly, but younger people are at just as much of a disadvantage.

Across the age range of 25-34, Asian women fair the best with 2.1%. White men & women, Asian men, and Hispanic men have roughly equal unemployment rates (2.8-3.2%). Where things are a little different are with African American men and women and Hispanic women. Hispanic women are a full point higher than Hispanic men. African American men and women have similar rates (around 6.0%), but double that of all other ethnic groups.

LGBTQ Inclusion

While there are no hard statistics on LGBTQ unemployment. Discrimination amongst transgender remains strong. As does, LGBTQ persons of color. It would stand to reason that their unemployment is likely higher than their non-LGBTQ counterparts

Eliminating Bias in the Hiring in Hard Work

Eliminating bias in hiring is extremely difficult. As humans, we all carry a perception of people different from us. It how we evolved, and it's how we are socialized. Our tribe vs. theirs. This doesn't let us off the hook, but rather, we all have to be honest with ourselves, however difficult it may be, to acknowledge where our biases lie. Only then can we deal with them.

Tips to Help with Eliminating Bias

According to the Harvard Business Review, here are some dos and don'ts to consider in your hiring process to eliminate unintentional bias in the process


  1. Experiment with the wording of job listings by removing adjectives closely associated with a particular gender.
  2. Ask candidates to take sample work test, or provide a sample of how they solve a problem appropriate for the job. It's useful in comparing applicants and it's an effective predictor of future job performance.
  3. Control for your personal feelings about a particular candidate by giving likability a numerical score.

Do Not's

  1. Engage in unstructured interviews. Instead, standardize the interviews process by asking candidates the same set of defined questions.
  2. Â Allow surface demographic characteristics to play into your summary review. Use a software program that blinds that information and ensures a level playing field. If you can't afford software, blind the names

In Summary...

With the economy near full employment, bias can hurt our ability to compete and obtain the best candidates; so eliminate that mentality. Plus many States have tax incentives geared towards helping these disadvantaged groups. For example, New York State Youth Jobs Program provides up to $7,500 in tax credits for hiring disadvantaged youth. Even if you put half of that into job training, you will still come out ahead.

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About the Author

Brian Cairns, CEO of Prostrategix Consulting. Over 25 years of business experience as a corporate executive, entrepreneur, and small business owner. For more information, please visit my LinkedIn profile

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