Don’t trust your gut when it comes to increasing diversity

A diverse team has numerous benefits – it supports creative solutions, innovation, increased retention, improved culture and better decision-making. This article provides insight into how to develop and implement a diversity-focused hiring plan.
Authored by:
Kelly White
Published:
June 2021

Creating a diverse team has numerous benefits – a group of professionals from multiple backgrounds supports a multiplicity of perspectives, which can result in creative, unexpected solutions. This team also can support a vibrant company culture, increase retention and engagement and improve team decision-making.

But developing a diverse workplace does not happen by accident. It requires conscious effort and an awareness of some of the patterns hiring managers can fall into that keeps things as status quo.

T3 Talent has received a lot of interest from real estate companies and teams recently about building diverse teams, so we decided to provide an outline of some best hiring practices.

Creating more diversity involves identifying specific diversity targets, posting jobs on targeted platforms that match the diversity plan and through intentionally selecting for diversity, and a commitment to increase diversity as an ongoing organizational effort.

Implementing this plan requires a conscious effort to recognize the reality of unconscious bias and taking steps to reduce it by creating a standardized process that applies equally to all applicants.

This effort has five steps:

  1. Create a clear job description
  2. Evaluate résumés in a balanced way
  3. Don’t trust your gut
  4. Have separate people interview and make the hiring decision
  5. Have a diverse hiring committee

Each step to implementing the plan is described in more detail below.

Create a clear job description

In creating a job description that will result in diverse hiring, establish clear objectives with maximum specificity for each role. Hiring managers should ask themselves, "What are the outcomes that are required for this role?" The answer to this question creates clarity and keeps a focus on the role itself, rather than who fills it.

The job description should also use neutral language to eliminate bias. For example, using an adjective such as “energetic” could deter older candidates or using the word “mature” could deter younger candidates. Words like these with subtle connotations can reduce diversity. The same applies to words that unconsciously bias toward applicants based on race.

With a specific job description created, make sure it does not get adjusted during the process after interviewing begins. It is easy to like a candidate and then change a job's criteria that unknowingly inserts bias back into the process.

Evaluate résumés in a balanced way

Another element of reducing bias is to evaluate résumés without factors that could lead to bias.

For example, the college someone graduated from, or the ZIP code someone lives in can indicate socioeconomic status and other diversity factors. Redact this information from résumés before evaluating them to eliminate gender, age, location and other factors not relevant to the role.

Don’t trust your gut

Google did extensive research to see how well people make interview decisions. With a thorough study of its hiring practices, the company found out some surprising results, including that hiring managers who relied on their instincts in hiring actually performed worse than others who did not. The company also found that first impressions are irrelevant or, worse, frequently wrong.

Check out the book, “Work Rules” by Lazlo Bock, Head of People Operations at Google, for more detail into how Google has incorporated science and testing into its hiring process.

Have separate people interview and make the hiring decision

The No. 1 most valuable thing companies can do to reduce bias and create a more equitable outcome is to have someone who did not conduct the interview make the hiring decision.

This requires setting up an objective hiring process with four steps:

  1. Write down the interview questions.
  2. Write down the candidate’s answers.
  3. Make an assessment of the candidate based on the answers.
  4. Hand it off to a separate person or committee to make the decision.

Have a diverse hiring committee

Finally, have a hiring committee made up of diverse individuals. Many brokerage companies may not have a diverse staff to pull from. If the company does not yet have any leaders with diverse backgrounds, consider bringing in an outside consultant to help facilitate the process. This helps jumpstart diversity.

Takeaway

Developing and implementing a diversity-focused hiring plan is not easy. If you would like help in reviewing your plan or in developing one in concert with you, reach out to me, Kelly White, head of T3 Talent, or my colleague at T3 Sixty who leads our diversity initiatives, Kenya Burrell-VanWormer.

T3 Sixty – Trusted business advisors and management consultants.

Part of the T3 Sixty family of companies.

© T3 Sixty 2021. Enabling Intelligent Change.
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