How to reduce bias in the hiring process

September 13, 2022
Mikaella McInerney
How to reduce bias in the hiring process

Bias in recruitment is a major problem, and diversity and inclusion have never been more important to the industry. In a study about hiring in the UK, the Centre for Social Investigation found that people from ethnic minorities needed to send 60% more applications in order to receive as many callbacks as the majority group.

And yet diversity is often intrinsic to a company’s success: a McKinsey study found that companies who rate highly for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies who didn’t. Harvard Business Review found that diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture new markets. Diverse companies see more innovation, better results, and better reputations in their industry. Not only is diversity the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense!

But bias is baked into our recruitment processes, in the same way it is baked into culture. We have to actively work to reduce bias. Not only against protected characteristics like race, sexuality, gender, and others, but against attrition bias (how you compare one candidate against another) and recency bias (the last candidate you saw will often feel like the best one). How can we fight against it? The answer is inclusive recruitment.

What is inclusive recruitment?

Inclusive recruitment or inclusive hiring is a set of practices recruiters can implement to reduce bias in hiring. It includes removing bias based on a name, ethnicity, gender, or assumed background, as well as using reliable data that helps you reduce bias. Most of us want to be less biased, but we might not realize which biases we are replicating on an unconscious level.

“It’s an important thing to acknowledge that we all have biases—that’s human,” Develop Diverse’s co-founder and CSO Pil Byriel told us. “Biases are our brain’s way of creating patterns. They help us navigate the world, and cross the street without getting hit by a car. But biases can become an obstacle, especially in recruitment or talent attraction.”

Implementing inclusive recruiting practices can improve your hiring amongst underrepresented groups, see you get a more diverse range of candidates, and lead your company to new and innovative highs!

Inclusive recruitment practices

So that’s inclusive recruitment—now, how do you do it? In this section, we’ll break down some standard practices you can use to improve diversity and inclusion in your recruitment processes.


Moving forward means recognizing what you’re doing wrong. Educate yourself on racism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism and ableism to be able to appreciate the biases in the way you approach the world. You could also use this opportunity to get educated on the way your company has approached diversity and inclusion in the past: what is the average make-up of your employees? How many diverse candidates do you see for each role? Once you realize what the issues are, you’ll be better able to fix them.

Reevaluate everything

The smallest things can make a difference to your ability to hire inclusively. A reference to “Christmas parties” in a job description might be off-putting to some candidates, while some recruiters might be unconsciously associating “leadership behaviors” with men. (Think of how often a man is considered to be “assertive”, while a woman is “bossy”!) Make sure you comb over your entire recruitment process with care to find and fix biases from the job description to the interview and even to the reference check process.

Hire different perspectives

You can’t do this all on your own—and you shouldn’t have to! A big part of addressing bias within recruitment is finding diverse perspectives who can feedback what you’re doing right and what needs more attention. Hiring different perspectives, different experiences, and different backgrounds to you will snowball into a boom in diversity and inclusion within your organization. And diverse recruiters also lead to diverse hiring! Just make sure that when you’re checking someone’s culture fit, you’re not hiring from a “one culture only” perspective.

Define your inclusive hiring strategy goals

Saying you want to hire inclusively is one thing. But what does that mean for your company? What targets do you need to hit? What results do you want to achieve? Like anything in a successful business, inclusive hiring requires setting and then meeting goals, rather than a vague wish that never sees any concrete results. Make diverse hiring one of your organization’s KPIs, and then follow up on it regularly.

Inclusive recruiting is high effort… and high reward

Unfortunately, bias is all too easy to continue to replicate in interview after interview, with role after role. Inclusive recruiting offers better results and better values, but it takes time, care and attention, as well as definitive goal setting.

Struggling on where to start? Use HiPeople’s inclusive talent insights to reduce bias in your hiring process—and increase efficiency at the same time. Book a demo today!