The Startups Trying to Fix The Bias Problem in Hiring
Solving the unsolvable problem in human resources.
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Implicit bias in hiring is so hard to root out because, well, it's implicit. Even when managers talk a good game about increasing diversity at the office, their actions rarely match their intent: In three studies, researchers at MIT and Indiana University found that organizations that tout meritocracy actually show the greatest bias against women. And homogeny isn't only unfair -- it's bad for business. Companies with the most ethnically diverse teams are 35 percent more likely to have returns above the national industry median, according to McKinsey.
Related: The Case for Blind Hiring
But how can a company fix the problem, and avoid fueling managers' conscious and subconscious biases? A new crop of startups has a solution: blind recruitment. It's a hiring method that conceals candidates' gender, race and education background -- enabling a person to interview or perform job-related tests and be considered solely on those merits. Think of The Voice, but with a job offer rather than a recording contract. Here's how three startups can help you go blind.
The GapJumpers team strips a job description of subjective junk (like passionate and team player) and creates an objective test for candidates, pulling from more than 750 challenges that span domain expertise and specific skills. "Just by applying blind auditions to the hiring funnel that already exists, we've seen a 60 percent increase in diverse applicants making it through to the interview, and a 200 percent increase in women," says cofounder Kédar Iyer. GapJumpers has done more than 1,600 blind auditions for companies including BBC, Dolby and Return Path.
This platform allows tech companies to assess coding skills through an anonymous system. If a candidate is up to snuff, the interview can be handled through voice-masking technology that obscures the applicant's gender. (A 2014 study found that candidates with "vocal fry" -- a low-pitched, creaky-sounding speech pattern common among young American women -- are perceived as less competent, less educated, less trustworthy and less hirable.) Twitch, Lyft and Asana are early embracers of the site.
Related: 6 Ways to Avoid the Dreaded Bad Hire
Created by Stephanie Lampkin, an African-American woman who was once told that her background wasn't technical enough for a job -- despite an engineering degree from Stanford and past gigs at Microsoft and Deloitte -- this app matches applicants to open positions Tinder-style (but minus photos). Hiring managers can swipe on profiles scrubbed clean of identifying info. If both sides have interest, they set up an interview. Launched in March, Blendoor is being tested by companies including Airbnb and Twitter.