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Blog

Can we really get rid of hiring bias in the workplace?

13 May 08:00 by Clare Beresford

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Diversity, equity, and inclusion runs through Laurence Simons Search.  Our diverse, collaborative, and forward-thinking team are multi-lingual, multi-cultural and highly experienced, and inclusivity is one of our company values, which we embrace with gusto.

As a female business owner, I am an active member of the 30% Club, and we consistently ask our clients about their D&I policies as part of our due diligence.

Laurence Simons Search also recently signed up to the Women in Law Pledge.  This pledge is a commitment to work together to harness the power of gender equality to transform the business of law.  We are proud to support this initiative.

We are proud to be a sponsor of the ACC Europe Conference in May 2021, and will be delivering a workshop on Eliminating Bias in the Workplace, which prompted me to write this feature to examine the theme, can we really eliminate bias? 

Science says that we can, ultimately, but biased without even realising that.  Research says the same too. Our minds are programmed to make decisions intuitively, and whereas we like to believe that logical processes affect our decision making, science has proven that there is also a lot of unconscious activity taking place too to bias our judgements.  The same applies when making hiring decisions too.

 In the recruitment process, bias happens when you create an opinion about someone based on their first impression. And it may not be social discrimination taking place, even their name, or hometown may create an impression, good or bad, in your mind, before you even meet them. And none of this information is relevant to whether they can do the job well.

Throw in some conscious bias too and the process gets even more complicated.  I am not suggesting that anyone deliberately discriminates, just highlighting that some pre-conceived ideas of who will fit best into the team culturally or be similar to the people already in that team.

Unconscious, and conscious, bias is undoubtedly costing companies time, money, and business productivity, it is proven that diverse teams perform better.

So, what can we all do to make some steps forward?   There are the obvious ways to remove bias from recruiting, for example, blind resume screening methods, female only career days etc, but you must take a step further back, and look at diversifying your hiring process, not just diversifying your team.  By using the same recruitment methodology, you are attracting the same people, and possibly missing out on some candidates that do have the correct skill set.

So, to answer the question originally posed, can we really remove unconscious bias from our hiring processes?  I am not 100% certain that we can, but by being aware of our biases, and helping people think more consciously when making hiring decisions, than we are all making very important steps in the right direction to reflect the society in which they are based.

My fabulous team are happy to discuss any aspects of your legal recruitment process, please reach out to us as we would love to hear from you.

Clare Beresford, CEO, Laurence Simons Search