Let the Best People Win: How to Eliminate Hiring Bias

 

I have worked with  Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) for over 16 years. It goes without saying that technology today is much different than is was back then. Since I have already dated myself, I am not embarrassed to tell you that back in the day, there was no LinkedIn or Facebook. In fact, we barely had email. Now, there are hundreds of tools out there. Don’t believe me? Check out the recent post by William Tincup who listed 100+ HR Tech and Recruiting tools to watch in Q1-17. There is a tool or extension for every piece of HR.

All of these tools often leads me to worry about all of this new technology. So many fail while they are still in their infancy. It makes me cautious of working with a new one until they have been around for awhile. However, when you have technology that can actually help people hire better, it is worth a look.  This is how I feel about with Unitive.works. For years now, we have heard about the importance of diversity recruiting. Most recently, there has been attention about how unconscious bias can get in the way of that. Unitive claims to eliminate that, and I wanted to learn how.

Let the Best Man Person Win

Unitive’s company motto is “Let the best person win.” Let’s focus on that word “PERSON.” If you are like me, I bet you use this line occasionally, and it comes out “Let the best man win.” However, it is that type of pre-programmed bias that Unitive strives to fix. It is not that I am intentionally using the term “best man win” because I feel women are not in the running to win. It is truly a subconscious use of a term that is widely utilized in that way.  If you are indeed working towards not just “diversity” but real “inclusion” those phrases could turn candidates off. The science that sits behind the easy to use application that is Unitive.com is all about inclusion. Of course, there is science behind it. The Founder, Laura Mather, is an expert in cyberfraud who has a Ph.D. in Computer Science and a B.S. in Applied Mathematics.

Do not confuse this tool as the single solution for your diversity initiatives. In fact, a lot of those initiatives are in a sense the opposite of what Unitive is about. Unfortunately, diversity hiring initiatives can end up leading an organization to focus on the wrong things about an applicant. It is the wrong things for the right reason, but still the wrong things. The goal of course is the let the best person win regardless of diversity status.

What Does Your Company Value?

I will talk about the application itself, but before I do, I have to speak of the thought behind it a little. Based on their website and their documentation, the entire premise behind Unitive can be summed up in one word.Values. Their consulting services offer organizations values based look at their hiring practices, job descriptions, interviewing skills, etc. Their software application has a heavy focus on helping create job descriptions that are based on your organization’s values, what your team feels is most important to be successful.

I have not used Unitive’s consulting services, nor have I ever spoke to anyone personally at Unitive. However, after using the free trial, I can see that there truly has been a lot of thought, work and focus put into developing a tool that helps focus job descriptions and applicant screening in such a way to truly drive inclusion while developing these items with a focus on your organization’s values.

Eliminating Bias in the Job Description

After creating a free account and accessing the application, you find that you have to start by setting up a new job. This is the area where you will create the job description. If all you do is use this for helping you create job descriptions, I think you will find it to be valuable. I like the way it helps you create a new job description.

Starting with the job title then adding keywords. Why keywords? Those keywords help the application suggest items later in the process. Based on the job title, it will give you suggestions, but it is best to include as many and as accurate as possible.

After identifying your title and keywords, you work at adding the skills, values, and items you want an applicant to demonstrate in an interview (these are like demonstrating your skill with MS Excel or showing your ability to work through problems, etc.).

Skills and Values

As the next step, you rate the Skills, Values and Interview items by dragging them within a box from More Important to Less Important. This allows the application to quantify each item and helps in the next steps to guide the creation of the actual description. It also helps later when creating the interview items etc. Following the basic setup you set the meat and potatoes of the job description, the job summary, responsibilities, qualification, you know, all that stuff that takes hours to create normally. With Unitive, it took me a few minutes to create a job description.

At this point in the job description, the application uses all of the items you entered (title, keywords, skills, values, etc.) to assist with suggested content. All of the recommended content is editable, and you can steal parts of their suggestions, or you can just write your own from scratch. What is really cool is the word suggestions. As you type your items, the application will highlight words that may not fit best with your values. They also may be words that detract from the inclusiveness of your job description.

Mastery = Bad: Keyword Suggestions

The word suggestions were honestly eye-opening to me. It was interesting to see the different “feeling” the words it suggested gave the content. In the qualifications section, I used “Mastery of MS Office tools with a focus on Excel.” Unitive gave “Mastery” and “Tools” a red highlight (meaning these were items that may have a less than inclusive feeling). The suggested text to replace “Mastery” were “Excellence” and “Deep Understanding” and the suggestions for tools were resources, instruments, and infrastructure. I chose deep understanding and infrastructure. My text ended up being “Deep understanding of MS Office infrastructure with a focus on Excel.” Now tell me that doesn’t feel better to you.

As you work through building creating (yes, I stole a suggested text replacement from Unitive) your job description it provides a “Job Score” that helps you identify the quality of your description. It helps give a visual that demonstrates balance and inclusion. For me, this made writing the job description fun. That is something I have NEVER said when writing a job description.

The score made it a little like a game; I wanted to get the highest score possible so I played around with my wording to see how high I could get. Which led to a better-written job description in the end (in my opinion). After creating your job description, you can export it as text that can be used to put into your organization’s format,  and Alakazam you have a job description.

Eliminate Bias When Reviewing Resumes

You can now drop in resumes from applicants and send those resumes to the Hiring Managers. The Hiring Managers can then review the resume and score it based on the job description you set up. These reviewers receive the resume without the individual’s name or other personal information. This is to eliminate unintentional screening of specific groups of people based on their name etc.

After your reviewers provide their feedback on the resume, you get a score for each applicant. This score represents their fit to the job based on the job description and weighting of the skills and values. Giving you a quick view of the applicants based on their fit.

Now your job description is written in a way that encourages inclusion and is in line with your companies values. Your applicants and their resumes have been evaluated in a way that reduces unintentional bias. Now you can focus on the candidate that will best match to the job based on what you have identified matters most.

Interviewing Help

Unitive walks you through setting up structured and focused interviews. Furthermore, it assists in creating interview questions so the interviewer can focus on finding the best-fit person for the job. Further still, the interviewer can walk through the questions and record the interview all from the app.

The mobile app for interviewing integrates with the online tool and provides the interviewer with the structured questions. The interviewer can record the interview, star important sections, take pictures of relevant items. Additionally, with a single tap, you can record the interviewer’s impression for the specific answer given. All of this allows the interviewer to focus on the most important thing for an interview – the person. All of this is then provided within the job.

In my opinion, Unitive is, at a minimum, an excellent tool to help with crafting your job descriptions. Most importantly, it could help an organization take their people search to a new level. Finally, a tool that drives the selection of people to a new level of true inclusion. You will also create and a workforce that believes in the organization’s values.

Can Unitive Eliminate ALL Bias?

If your organization has not established an actual definition of values, using Unitive may be difficult. If you have not truly identified these, the application may be confusing. It asks you to develop items based on these values. However, if you have defined those values,  I think you will find even the free trial application to be an exciting experience. Especially if you are looking for a  way to attract the best person for your organization.

It would be interesting to study the 30 days, 90 days and first year turnover of individuals using Unitive vs. before using it. 30-day turnover and 90-day turnover are typically a result of the applicant not being a good fit for the job. In my opinion, the selection process is a very significant factor in this level of turnover. When that happens, either the applicant didn’t understand what they were getting into, or the organization did not know who they were hiring. I would wager that if the Unitive process was utilized for the selection process that an organization would see a drop in turnover. You can use a trial copy by clicking here.

That’s my perspective, what do you think?

 

About our Author:

Dave Curtis has 30+ years experience in the workforce.  Of which 18 have been within HR/HR Information Systems. Given the nickname ‘The Wizard’ by his co-workers, Dave is a leader, innovator, HR tech professional and overall tech geek. Connect with him on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter.




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