Hiring is an area that is particularly susceptible to biases, advantaging some candidates but disadvantaging others. The most common bias within hiring is similarity bias - a bias towards hiring candidates who are similar to them. This occurs because we are programmed to seek out people who are similar to ourselves in race, religion, background, and beliefs - as this makes us feel comfortable and safe.
If a diverse workforce is your aim, then removing biases from the hiring process is of paramount importance. For inspiration, here are some initiatives that other UK firms and organisations are implementing to tackle this issue:
As part of the BBC Journalism Group's efforts to improve ethnic diversity, it set up a Journalism Talent Pool. Successful candidates joined the JTP for six months, during which time they received extra training and support to help them apply for BBC jobs.
The positions were advertised in ethnic minority websites and media, databases, and networks, and all selection panel members underwent fair selection training; consequently, one-third of those admitted to the Journalism Talent Pool were BME individuals.
British Telecoms (BT)
BT launched an extensive recruitment campaign for engineers and set targets for an increase in BME staff from 6% to 15%. Employee mentors assisted potential BME candidates from inner-city areas in understanding the recruitment process. The job advertisements incorporated a variety of different media and imagery representing those from different backgrounds, and recruiting managers worked together with an agency to ensure that a wider talent pool was available and no individual was disadvantaged. As a result, BT managed to double the number of BME employees from 6% to 12%.
Lancashire Police Service
In order to address underrepresentation among ethnic minorities in the police service, the service appointed an action coordinator to focus on the recruitment process and identify barriers for BME candidates. In addition to engagement initiatives, familiarisation days were made available for BME individuals interested in joining the service.