Recruitment: how can cognitive biases be broken to diversify profiles?

Cognitive biases are allies of the brain. They help us on a daily basis, without us realizing it, to make decisions, understand our environment and act on it. But under certain circumstances, cognitive biases can have a negative effect. In the context of work and especially recruitment, it is useful to know them, pay attention to them and thwart them. Why ? Because our biases tend to distract us from the facts, to favor people who are similar to us and thus to move away from certain profiles that are better suited to the position being offered and that provide real added value to the company, in particularly from one of a diversity perspective. So how do you recognize these biases and what are the solutions to reduce them? explanation.

What is a cognitive bias?

Biases are just shortcuts created by our brains to help us process the vast amount of information we receive every moment of our lives, we read in a document co-signed by the Institute for Data Valorization of Montreal, The International Observatory. on the Societal Impact of AI and Digital Technology, the University of Montreal and the Quebec Interuniversity Network. There are different kinds of prejudice, some of which will play directly in the professional sphere, with the risk that“impede access to professional opportunities and harm individuals and the institution as a whole”

Here is a non-exhaustive list:

  • The Bias of Stereotypes : the fact of placing beliefs on an individual based on his membership (actual or presumed) in a particular group.
  • The Similarity Prejudice : the fact of cultivating a kind of benevolence with people who are similar to us or, on the contrary, judging someone negatively because he or she seems very different from yourself.
  • Projection bias : to favor a person who thinks or reasons as oneself.
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How to reduce prejudice and promote better recruitment?

Learn more about prejudice

One article will never be enough to learn more about cognitive biases and in particular their recruitment issues. There is really no other solution than to educate and/or train your teams. This is the best prevention to open the professional prospects of your future employees, but also to give your company the opportunity to diversify its teams.

Highlight a solid and concrete job description

It is forbidden to mention a discriminatory criterion in a job offer. Do the same in the detailing of a job description: use epicene (neutral) language, base yourself on minimal skills and aptitude and not on the profile of a previous employee who has held this position.

In their paper, universities and institutes in Quebec point out that research has shown that: “Adjectives like ‘competitive’ and ‘determined’ are often perceived by job applicants as masculine characteristics, while other terms like ‘cooperative’ and ‘cooperative’ attract more women than men.” The authors of the document therefore advise to work on a job offer “make it more gender neutral or use some adjectives that are ‘more feminine’ if that meets your hiring goals”

Leave your network

There’s nothing like reinforcing some of his prejudices by only publishing his job offer in his network. The ideal is to get out of it by making your offer public, in order to attract applications outside your network.

Preparing for the interview

An interview cannot be improvised. In that case, you leave the field free for your cognitive biases! In order to treat your candidates as fairly as possible, you must establish identical evaluation criteria for each person. In addition, plan to be at least two during the interviews and keep an eye on your own prejudices and those of your colleagues. Take notes and assess applications as factually as possible.

Algorithms as an effective solution?

In the fully digital age, algorithms are presented as an effective solution to combat our cognitive biases. Problem: Their effectiveness has been questioned several times. We particularly remember the Amazon affair, whose algorithm reproduced sexist biases… To learn more about this, consult the guide of the French Association of Diversity Managers.

Interested in this article? Read on with our interview with Antoinette Laurent, Anti-Discrimination Consultant: Sexism, Racism, Classism: How to End Discrimination at Work?

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