The women in leadership topic have sparked much debate again. Latest research for instance – carried out by the Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders –has found that levels of FTSE 100 board appointments going to women have dropped significantly in the last six months. It’s clear that this is a complex issue and there have been several suggestions as to why we aren’t seeing more females on boards. But perhaps one of the contributing factors comes down to unconscious bias.
We all have our own individual biases, influenced by upbringing, culture and social environment. But when it comes to recruiting prejudices can take over, and you may not even realise you’re singling out certain candidates due to your unconscious biases. It’s worryingly common for employers to favour applicants who are similar to them over other individuals, but just because someone has comparable traits to you, doesn’t mean they’re the best candidate for the job.
If you only hire people who are like you, there’s the danger that everyone in your organisation will think the same, and it can be extremely difficult to bring in new ideas to your business. You need to have a diverse workforce so that fresh perspectives can be brought to the table in order to compete with other businesses in your space. So, an unfair recruitment process not only affects the individuals concerned but can also damage your business as a whole.
Everyone in your organisation who is involved in hiring should be made aware of the damage that unconscious biases can cause so that you aren’t missing out on top talent. Unconscious bias is something that can affect everyone, and it’s difficult to get away from it. But gaining an understanding is a good starting point, and educating your employees is key.