Category Archives: Employment Screening

Research: How Companies Committed to Diverse Hiring Still Fail

Source: Judd Kessler and Corinne Low, Harvard Business Review, February 11, 2021
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Even if your company is committed to diversity inclusion, you might have hidden biases in your hiring strategies. According to recent research on the hiring practices at several prestigious firms, this can take several forms. For example, you might view unpaid internships more favorably than other types of summer jobs, which introduces socioeconomic bias. And you might think that minority and female candidates are less likely to accept a job if offered because so many other firms are also interested in hiring them (something, incidentally, the research doesn’t bear out); because of this, you might be less likely to pursue those candidates. So, if you’re truly committed to diversifying your organization, take a hard look at your hiring processes and face up the fact that they might not be as effective in practice as they are in intention.

Why Putting On Blinders Can Help Us See More Clearly

Source: Sean Fath, Richard P. Larrick, Jack B. Soll, and Susan Zhu, MIT Sloan Management Review, June 8, 2021

Even if your organization doesn’t have a “blinding” policy for hiring and other people evaluations, it’s possible to reap some of the benefits.

Would you decide which job candidates to interview based on their names — or which ventures to fund based on entrepreneurs’ gender or physical attractiveness? Few managers would admit doing so, even to themselves. But research shows that decision makers are in fact susceptible to exactly this type of bias. Identical resumes sent in response to job postings are less likely to generate a callback for an interview if the name at the top suggests the candidate is Black.1 And female entrepreneurs face harsher questions from potential investors and are less likely to have their ideas funded than men (particularly attractive men).

Generally, this body of research demonstrates that the fairness of social evaluations — such as whom to hire, invest in, or promote — can be adversely affected by irrelevant and seemingly innocuous attributes, like name or appearance, because of the biases they evoke. How might these judgments be made more equitably? One way to reduce the potential for bias and increase objectivity is to adopt a decision-making strategy called blinding — that is, limiting the information that can be considered in an evaluation. The logic is straightforward: An evaluator cannot be biased by irrelevant information about a target of evaluation (for instance, a job candidate’s name) if that information is hidden from view. It is for this reason that Justice is typically depicted wearing a blindfold: The blindfold ensures the impartiality of her decision-making.

4 Lessons for Building Diverse Teams

Source: Naomi Wheeless, Harvard Business Review, May 17, 2021
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Companies often hire the exact same type of employee over and over. The thinking is that if employee X is doing a great job and everyone gets along with them, then the smart thing to do must be to hire more people exactly like them. This mentality leads to hiring managers seeking out candidates that identically mirror their existing workforce. They’ll look for the same educational background and skillsets, source from the same narrow list of companies, and look for similar personality traits during interviews. Before you know it, you end up with an entire staff that looks, thinks, and — to a degree — acts almost exactly the same. Not only does this tend to result in a reduction in diversity of thought (among other aspects of diversity), but it can prevent the company from realizing its true potential. Fresh new perspectives are necessary to bring forth bold new ideas, challenge long-standing internal thinking, and provide a more complete internal representation of the customer base.

Diversity in Public Sector Hiring Report, 2021

Source: NEOGOV, 2021

From the beginning of 2018 to the end of 2019, we analyzed millions of recruitments through our applicant tracking system that serves city, county, and state governments across the country. Analyzing 16 million applicants by race and ethnicity and 17.4 million applicants by gender, we sought to identify where the drop-offs took place throughout the recruitment process by race, ethnicity, and gender.
• Diverse candidates are well-represented in government, but Black candidates have to apply at a significantly higher rate to maintain that representation
• White candidates are always hired above their application percentage, while Black candidates are always hired below their application percentage
• Eligible Black female applicants are 39% less likely to be interviewed and, once interviewed, are 31% less likely to be hired than eligible White male applicants
• Black females were 26% more likely to be interviewed and 33% more likely to be hired when PII blinding was used. When interviewers use a scoring rubric, Black females are 21% more likely to be hired.

Social Media Checks Can Bring Bias Into Hiring

Source: Matt Shipman, Futurity, March 4, 2021

The way human resources professionals review online information and social media profiles of job candidates highlights how so-called “cybervetting” can introduce bias and moral judgment into the hiring process.

Related:
The hunt for red flags: cybervetting as morally performative practice
Source: Steve McDonald, Amanda K Damarin, Hannah McQueen, Scott T Grether, Socio-Economic Review, Advance Articles, Published: February 10, 2021
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From the abstract:
Cybervetting refers to screening job candidates by evaluating information collected from internet searches and social media profiles. Relatively little is known about how organizational actors use this practice in hiring decisions. Interviews with 61 human resource (HR) professionals reveal that they cybervet in order to minimize hiring risks and maximize organizational fit. Their judgments are deeply rooted in assessments of job candidates’ moral character and how it might affect workplace interactions. Because it involves the construction of moral criteria that shape labor market actions and outcomes, we describe cybervetting as a morally performative practice. HR professionals express enthusiasm for cybervetting, but also concerns about privacy, bias and fairness. Importantly, cybervetting practices and policies vary substantially across different types of organizations. These findings deepen our understanding of how organizational actors define and regulate moral behavior and how their actions are moderated by market institutions.

Addressing Artificial Intelligence-Based Hiring Concerns

Source: Dave Zielinski, HR Magazine, Summer 2020

The honeymoon is over for the use of artificial intelligence in human resources. The introduction of a bevy of new artificial intelligence (AI) tools by industry vendors over the past few years was met with a buzz, and it was embraced by HR practitioners seeking to use machine-learning algorithms to bring new efficiencies to recruiting, employee engagement, shared services, learning and development, and other areas of HR.

But as the use of AI has grown, it has attracted more attention from regulators and lawmakers concerned about fairness and ethical issues tied to the technology. Chief among those concerns are a lack of transparency in the way that many AI vendors’ tools work—namely that too many still function as “black boxes” without an easily understood explanation of their inner workings—and that machine-learning algorithms can perpetuate or even exacerbate unconscious bias in hiring decisions.

Hiring Challenges Confront Public-Sector Employers

Source: Mike Ramsey, SHRM, All Things Work, February 15, 2020

Only a few years ago, applying for a job with the Pennsylvania state government could be a daunting process. Posted jobs had vague, bureaucratic titles like “Administrative Officer 1.” Applicants had to take written exams at a testing center. Some waited months for a civil service commission to respond by mail before they could interview. Many had moved on by then. …. Things changed in early 2019, after state lawmakers agreed to streamline the 1940s-era system. Now, Walsh’s agency oversees a centralized website, where job seekers apply for positions that are more clearly defined. Testing and scoring is folded into the online application process, which administrators track closely. ….

Thick Red Tape and the Thin Blue Line: A Field Study on Reducing Administrative Burden in Police Recruitment

Source: Elizabeth Linos, Nefara Riesch, Public Administration Review, Volume 80 Issue 1, January/February 2020
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From the abstract:
Police departments struggle to recruit officers, and voluntary drop‐off of candidates exacerbates this challenge. Using four years of administrative data and a field experiment conducted in the Los Angeles Police Department, the authors analyze the impact of administrative burden on the likelihood that a candidate will remain in the recruitment process. Findings show that reducing friction costs to participation and simplifying processes improve compliance, as behavioral public administration would predict. Applicants who were offered simpler, standardized processes completed more tests and were more likely to be hired. Later reductions to perceived burden led to an 8 percent increase in compliance, with a 60 percent increase in compliance within two weeks. However, removing steps that would have allowed for better understanding of eligibility kept unqualified candidates in the process for longer, reducing organizational efficiency. These results extend the field’s understanding of how administrative burden can impact the selection of talent into government.

Evidence for Practice
– Simplifying recruitment processes is associated with a reduction in voluntary drop‐offs in police recruitment.
– Removing stages in the process that allow for better self‐evaluation may increase learning costs, shifting unqualified candidates to later stages in the selection process.
– Participation in expedited testing, in which applicants can complete more than one assessment per day, is correlated with higher persistence through the recruitment process and higher applicant quality.

Getting In, Getting Hired, Getting Sideways Looks: Organizational Hierarchy and Perceptions of Racial Discrimination

Source: Adia Harvey Wingfield, Koji Chavez, OnlineFirst, Published January 2, 2020
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From the abstract:
This article argues that black workers’ perceptions of racial discrimination derive not just from being in the minority, but also from their position in the organizational structure. Researchers have shown that black individuals encounter an enormous amount of racial discrimination in the workplace, including but not limited to exclusion from critical social networks, wage disparities, and hiring disadvantages. But fewer studies examine the extent to which black workers believe racial discrimination is a salient factor in their occupational mobility or the factors that might explain their divergent perceptions of racial discrimination. Based on 60 in-depth interviews with black medical doctors, nurses, and technicians in the healthcare industry, we show that black workers’ status within an organizational hierarchy fundamentally informs perceptions of the nature and type of workplace racial discrimination. These findings have implications for understanding how racial dynamics at work are linked to mental health, occupational satisfaction, and organizational change.

Uneven Patterns of Inequality: An Audit Analysis of Hiring-Related Practices by Gendered and Classed Contexts

Source: Jill E Yavorsky. Social Forces, Volume 98, Issue 2, December 2019
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From the abstract:
Despite women’s uneven entrances into male-dominated occupations, limited scholarship has examined whether and how employers in different occupational classes unevenly discriminate against women during early hiring practices. This article argues that intersecting gendered and classed features of occupations simultaneously shape hiring-related practices and generate uneven patterns of inequality. Using data derived from comparative white-collar (N = 3,044 résumés) and working-class (N = 3,258 résumés) correspondence audits and content-coded analyses of more than 3,000 job advertisements, the author analyzes early hiring practices among employers across two gendered occupational dimensions: (1) sex composition (male- or female-dominated jobs) and (2) gender stereotyping (masculinized or feminized jobs, based on the attributes that employers emphasize in job advertisements). Broadly, findings suggest a polarization of early sorting mechanisms in which discrimination against female applicants is concentrated in male-dominated and masculinized working-class jobs, whereas discrimination against male applicants at early job-access points is more widespread, occurring in female-dominated and feminized jobs in both white-collar and working-class contexts. Interestingly, discrimination further compounds for male and female applicants—depending on the classed context—when these occupational dimensions align in the same gendered direction (e.g., male-dominated jobs that also have masculinized job advertisements). These findings have implications for the study of gender and work inequality and indicate the importance of a multidimensional approach to hiring-related inequality.